Growing up I only ever saw pristine trails in older copies of mountain biking magazines from the US. What was around me was rocky fire trail and walking trails with endless stairs and grumpy people on them. The 90’s on a beater bike in the Hawkesbury Sandstone Basin was a tough MTB upbringing. My first trip to Canberra to ride my mountain bike in 2000 (for the Mont 24hr) was a revelation. Sections like ‘Kowalski’ in Original Stromlo are permanently etched into my memory. The past few years have seen so much change for Australia, with more areas accepting MTBing as a legitimate leisure pursuit – with funding for quality trail building following.
And now, Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Resort Management have announced the beginning of construction on what is set to become Australia’s first International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) EPIC mountain bike trail. The project is a partnership between the Australian Alps National Landscape Committee Inc, Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management and the Australian Government through the T-QUAL Strategic Tourism Investment Grants program.
Designed and constructed by Glen Jacobs and his team at World Trail, the 40.39km trail will offer visitors to the region a long distance, cross-country descending ride on terrain within the Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Resorts (managed by the Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management), Mansfield State Forest (managed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment), and the Mt Russell Education Area (managed by Parks Victoria).
Jacobs should be well known to you, and his enthusiasm for all things MTB and for building trails that work for all riders, for a long time to come, is infectious.
After the trail is finished next summer, IMBA will undertake an assessment of the trail and if EPIC status is attained, it will be one of the few trails outside of North America to receive this endorsement, meaning that it is recognised as a world-class trail that offers an iconic, diverse and high-quality backcountry ride experience.
“While Resort Management has already invested over $1 million into the development of a dedicated mountain bike network at Mt Buller, we understand the importance of continually evolving our offering to maintain our position as a market leader,” said Amber Gardner, Director of Marketing, Sales and Business Development for the Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management. “The launch our Epic trail project in summer 2014/15 will truly solidify Mt Buller’s role as the premier mountain bike park in the State, delivering significant tourism benefits to the Mansfield-Mt Buller region.”
To date, the project has received $125,000 in federal funding through T-QUAL Strategic Tourism Investment Grants, and $375,000 in state funding through Regional Development Victoria. Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management has contributed $225,000 and the Mansfield Shire Council a further $25,000.
One of the main trail builders for World Trail, Ryan de la Rue, made the trip back home to Victoria after extensive work in Far North Queensland. He made a great video of his road trip showing the riding, driving and antics between FNQ and Mt Buller.