Road collapse keeps skiers from enjoying 'perfect conditions' on Mount Mawson for season opener
Rhiannon Shine, Sun 13 Aug 2017
Excitement about the start of southern Tasmania's ski season has turned to frustration for hundreds of people who waited hours to access the slopes.
Southern Tasmania's ski season officially kicked off on Sunday after a decent dump of fresh snow in recent days.
After waiting a year for the season to restart, skiers were forced to exercise further patience, with some sitting in their cars for up to five hours while the access road was closed.
President of the Southern Tasmanian Ski Association Peter Davis said a queue of more than 100 cars was lined up at the bottom of Mount Mawson in Mount Field National Park waiting for Lake Dobson Road to open.
He said the ski conditions were "perfect" but some people ended up leaving out of frustration.
"It has been a pretty frustrating day at Mount Field today," he said.
"The road was initially closed due to snow cover and it was taking a while to get it cleared away and we had more than 100 cars queued up waiting to get up for the opening of the ski season."
The snowplough cleared the road but unfortunately it remained closed for more hours after the Department of State Growth determined it was not safe due to a partial collapse.
Skiers forced to wait five hours
Mr Davis said the disruption was disappointing because the volunteer-run organisation only operated from 10:00am-4:00pm and the road did not re-open (for one-way traffic) until just before 1:00pm.
"So people will only get about two hours worth of skiing in," he said.
Skiers who arrived early hoping to be on the mountain first had to wait five hours. Some turned back and headed home.
"We have got lots and lots of disappointed people who were hoping to take their families up there for the opening of the ski season," Mr Davis said.
'Disappointing' neglect of Lake Dobson Road
Mr Davis said it raised concerns about maintenance of the road.
"This road is used for tourists throughout the year and it is very disappointing that on the day we have a huge crowd here the department determined there needed to be some more work done on it," he said.
"Mount Field National Park has become increasingly popular, it is the fastest growing national park in Tasmania and had almost 250,000 visitors last year and many of those want to go up the Lake Dobson Road to view the beautiful scenery.
"So it is important that enough money is spent on the road ensure it is kept safe for all of those tourists."
Mr Davis said the chaos would have a huge impact on revenue.
"Opening day is usually the biggest day of the season," he said.
"We will have lost revenue. We are a not-for-profit organisation so the money that we make is all put back into infrastructure on the ski field.
"This is a significant loss to the Southern Tasmanian Ski Association that runs the ski field.
"People go away feeling disappointed.
"We keep our ski tickets at the lowest in Australia â they are only $30 a ticket."
A government spokesman said the road was closed due to safety concerns after parts of the surface were found to have given way, likely as a result of recent storms.
"[Road company] Stornoway crews are on site controlling traffic until additional signage arrives," he said.
"The Department of State Growth will undertake further inspections later in the week.
"While we apologise for the inconvenience, it was necessary to close the road while engineers carried out inspections to ensure that it was safe."
Meanwhile in the north of the state, about 1,000 people enjoyed skiing at Ben Lomond without any issues.
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