Maintenance Officer, Mt Baw Baw Village
Russell Paliew arrived at Mt Baw Baw Village five years ago in search of winter work, and he hasn't yet found a reason to leave. From a winter gig working on the maintenance of the giant air bags offering a soft landing to ambitious skiers and snowboarders, Russell is now a maintenance officer year-round across the village and ski operations.
'I just came here for a job but I've fallen in love with the place,' says Russell.
'There is a crispness to the air, so you can see quite a distance from the mountain on a clear day. My favourite place is up on the Mt Baw Baw summit at sunrise, watching the light changing over the whole of south Gippsland. I love photography and every month of the year there is something new to photograph here, something new to look out for. This place is constantly changing.'
Russell got hooked on his job, mostly for the opportunities it affords him to really get to know the mountain inside out; in a way that he knows would take years if he was just visiting.
'Having that familiarity with all the trails and locations is essential on the job, but it's pretty handy when you knock off at the end of the day too. There's nothing better than just getting out and looking around all the different trails here,' says the four-wheel driving fan.
Russell enjoys showing his family and friends around the mountain, and has built up a few tips for visitors to Mt Baw Baw.
'You have to get out and walk around; go out on the trails and actually experience the different landscapes.' Russell's favourite is the Village Trail, which leads right out to the Baw Baw National Park boundary or loops back to the Mt Baw Baw Village along McMillan's Trail.
'You'll experience different elements of the alpine landscape and see a variety of different birds among the snow gums,' enthuses Russell.
'Once or twice a year I see yellow crested black cockatoos – I'm not sure if they're migrating through or just confused! I also love the Flame Robin, which is here in the summer.'