Snow seasons were notoriously unreliable before snow making and snow harvesting gave some security to the resorts' snow cover. This year, in Victoria, they haven't lost their snow cover, they've lost their market.
A percentage of visitors to Victoria's three major resorts come from regional Victoria, but the vast number are from Melbourne and its 5 million citizens. And Melburnians aren't going anywhere, at least until August 19.
Despite that, Mt Buller will continue lift operations. "The decision to continue running ski lifts, lessons and snow making was reached with the well-being and livelihoods of our employees, the community and our guests in mind. Remaining open is not an easy decision however we believe it is in the best interests of our community and regional Victorians," Buller Ski Lifts general manager Laurie Blampied said.
However, Vail Resorts, the US company that owns the lifts at Falls Creek and Mount Hotham shut them down on Thursday afternoon. The company's chief operating officer in Australia, Peter Brulisauer, said they made the decision in line with Victoria's stay at home directions.
"We know our employees, guests and the communities where we operate have already endured so much hardship this year," he said. "However, we are focused first and foremost on health and safety, following local health guidelines and doing our part to support efforts across Victoria to address the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
"We recognise this is incredibly disappointing to our guests and pass holders, including those who have made reservations at Hotham and Falls Creek this season. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this incredibly challenging time."
Falls Creek and Mount Hotham only started operations on Monday; that's a four-day snow season so far for those two. Vail Resorts are refunding pre-paid lift passes, lessons and equipment rentals at Falls Cree and Mount Hotham.
Both Falls Creek and Mount Hotham remain open to locals and visitors from regional Victoria, offering cross-country skiing on groomed trails and other winter activities. But without the ski lifts.
Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass resorts in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains are all continuing to operate under their restricted, COVID-19 conditions.