The Old Paradian’s Association Ski Club was formed in the 1963 by a group of like minded individuals who enjoyed skiing, bushwalking and the alpine environment in general. Their desire for a permanent on mountain lodge was achieved in 1967 with the construction of an ‘A’ frame building designed and physically built by the members themselves with little outside assistance. This considerable task was accomplished through the commitment of members and a system of compulsory working bees and contributions, which continues to this day. The lodge is now known generally as Opal Ski Club.
Opal membership is not on a shareholding or part ownership basis and is not transferable or saleable. Every prospective member has to be nominated by an existing member and approved by the Membership Committee. There is an initial joining fee, a yearly subscription and a nominal bed charge to members who use the lodge. The lodge is not a commercial operation that lets rooms to the general public. All visitors must be lodge members or guests of members. The host member must be in attendance at the lodge and is responsible for their guests.
Over many years the lodge has been kept in fairly good repair due to the efforts of the members who must attend five compulsory work parties each year.
Opal Ski Club currently has 40 full members including a number of founding members involved in the original design and construction of the lodge.
The type of accommodation currently provided by Opal is bunkroom sleeping for up to 22 guests with shared cooking, dining and lounge areas along with ancillary drying room and member's storage lockers.
The Site and Orientation
The Opal lodge is located at the northern end of Goal Post Road at lot number 96.
Goal Post Road follows a spur from One Tree Hill, which runs in a northerly direction. This results in most of the upper lots along the road being of a similar elevation to those on the opposite side of the road. In effect there is not an ‘uphill’ or ‘downhill’ side of the road as is the case in most other areas of the village.
Opal is the last lodge on Goal Post Road in the current village plan. Many years ago there were three blocks further north around the end of the road but these have been abandoned. Interestingly, the western side of Goal Post Road from the Delatite Lane intersection heading north has never been proposed for subdivision so Opal Ski Club, Duck Inn and Bayerland are the only three lodges at this end of Goal Post Road.
Our block is irregular in proportion with a street frontage of 28.77 metres and an area of 1070 square metres. The long axis of the site runs east West and the land falls from the south east to the north west with an approximate total cross fall of 6.5 metres which is moderate in terms of the village topography.
The existing ‘A’ frame lodge is constructed on a benched out portion of the site, which is cut into the hillside to a depth of approximately 1.5 metres on the building's southern side. In 2005 a new loungeroom wing was constructed which abuts the ‘A’ frame on its southwest flank.
In terms of the immediate site streetscape the existing Opal lodge only has one neighbour, Duck Inn to its south and no other buildings opposite or behind.
Although a rather tall ‘A’ frame building the Opal lodge is cut into the hillside and in overall streetscape terms reads as being no taller than the 2 storey portion of Duck Inn some 20 metres away.
Skier Movement and Snow Shedding
A rather interesting aspect of our site is that the village circuit cross country skiing track runs between the Opal lodge and Duck Inn. It then runs across Goal Post Road and heads west along the village pedestrian access path.
This route is sometimes used by skiers to access the village but most skiers track up Goal Post Road and along Stirling Road to the top of the Chamois lift, as there is a ticket office located there.
Views to and from the Lodge
The existing lodge, although fairly tall due to its ‘A’ frame construction is not obvious when viewed from Goal Post Road. A stand of snow gums between the Opal lodge and the road effectively screens the structure and the weathered blue grey of the sheet roofing acts as a camouflage especially in misty conditions.
A single post top lantern with ‘Opal’ written on the diffuser is installed as an aid to finding the lodge.
Views from the lodge are spectacular to the north and east down the Chalet Creek catchment with further distant views across Kings Saddle.
Heritage of the Area
The entire Mt Buller Alpine Resort and areas beyond are included on the register of the National Estate and as such are considered by the Australian Heritage Commission as important.
Aboriginal heritage and association with the greater alpine area has been tracked back for many thousands of years. Of the sites showing evidence of aboriginal activity, two have major archaeological significance: the Howqua area was an important source of stone used for making the stone artefacts found in the Gippsland region and caves in the area of the Snowy River National Park contain engravings that are unique to Victoria.
The lodge has existed in its original form since the mid 1960’s making it one of a number of older lodges on the mountain. During this time no obvious evidence of Aboriginal occupation on the site has been found during numerous lodge’ work party’ clean ups.
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