Warburton: The Most Exciting Thing Happening in Australian Mountain Biking

Warburton: The Most Exciting Thing Happening in Australian Mountain Biking


So what is the most exciting thing
happening in Australian mountain biking right now? Warburton. Warbur-what? Exactly. Given how massive this development is
going to be, there has been surprisingly little noise made about Warburton. But we
had a chance to visit this town last week and I think it’s fair to say that
my mind was comprehensively blown by what I saw there. The potential is
enormous. Warburton is a little town surrounded by
big mountains it’s tucked away in the Yarra Valley it’s about an
hour-and-a-half drive from Melbourne Airport, so really not that far away from
the thick of things, but when you stumble upon it it feels like some little tiny
Canadian Riverside town nestled up in the Rocky Mountains. It’s got a really
magical feel about it. This place already has a great
reputation amongst the road riding scene, rail trail riders and gravel riders too,
but the mountain bikers are going to be coming thick and fast soon. Warburton
has just been allocated an eleven point three million dollars for a mountain
bike trail development program. That is the single biggest chunk of funding ever
to be allocated for mountain biking in Australia. Huge stuff. The plans that
we’ve seen for this place are staggering; there’s over a hundred and ten
kilometers of trails that’s going to be going in, spread across three different
hillsides around town including a 22 kilometer descending trail from the top
of Mount Donna Buang, which tops out at around 1,300 meters, all the way back
down into town itself, so over a kilometre of descending in that trail alone. Now funding levels aside why are we so excited about what’s going on in
Warburton? Well there are a few reasons but first and foremost, Warburton is
going to have the benefit of looking at the successes and the challenges that
have been faced by some of the other destinations around Australia, in
particular Derby, which has a similar story in that they’re starting and
building a mountain bike destination essentially from scratch.
The crew behind Warburton can draw upon Derby’s experiences, they’ve seen
firsthand now what’s necessary in terms of both the quality and quantity of
trails that have to go in, but also the supporting infrastructure, the
businesses that are needed to support the growth of a mountain bike
destination such as this, and also how to get the locals invested and activated
and on board with the whole mountain bike thing. You don’t have all the hang-ups
that are associated with the legacy of illegal trail building. Essentially you
can start from scratch, building the best trails with the best outcomes for
everyone. The terrain around the area is simply out of control as well. As I said
before the hillsides are massive they are steep and they are beautiful and
covered in these huge towering gums. The soils beneath them are all loamy. It’s a
beautiful cold climate rainforest, huge ferns, it’s really the best stuff you can
imagine for building trails here in Australia. The dirt is absolutely
fantastic and of course it’s all centered around the bubbling Yarra River
as well which rolls straight through the middle of town, and it’s really easy to
picture yourself coming down that hillside straight to the bank of the
river for a beer to chill out after a big day of riding. Another aspect that
has us excited is the area that the township is in, already it’s really cool
and you’ve got everything you need. It’s got great food, you’ve got restaurants
and accommodation, wineries, breweries all that kind of stuff is nearby as well. Now
the next step of course is going to be building the trail offering to back up
all this potential. World Trail have just got the nod for being the trail builders
for stage one, which is great news obviously, we’re now in safe hands there.
These guys have a fantastic track record including of course building Derby. To
start off, most of the trails are going to be targeted at the intermediate level
ride, blue level trails, which is where the bulk of the market is, so it
makes sense. That said we really do hope that there is scope to have some higher-end gravity trails and some beginner trails as well. When we look at this
terrain we can see how it lends itself to both of those types of riding as
well. Those huge hillsides are perfectly suited to big, steep, fast challenging
gravity trails to cater for advanced level riders. And similarly we can
imagine nice mellow loops of single track making its way off the rail trail
that is already in place. We think that’s what’s necessary to make a destination
like this truly stand out and be a world-class kind of destination that’s
going to attract people from all around the world. You have to have that
complete picture, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens there. Regardless we think we’re
gonna be spending a lot of time in this little town over the coming months as
things start to roll out. We can’t wait to jump in there and give
you a bit of a preview of some of the trails that are being built and
hopefully get back there and ride very very soon. It is a bloody good time to be
a mountain biker in Australia, I’ll tell you what.