Riders worldwide are making tracks to Tasmania. An island at the world’s edge covered in wild mountain bike trails with ribbons of dirt tracks passing some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
Whoever said “the fun is over at the end of the trail’ didn’t ride this island. Adrenaline pumping adventures are just minutes from trails. Jump on a quad bike and seek out secluded beaches, fly above the forest canopy, raft wild rivers and abseil Gordon Dam.
It’s not just mountain biking trails drawing people to Tasmania. It also has a good reputation for tantalising food and wine trails and more recently lesser-known beer and whisky trails are making their mark. It’s just the ticket to quench your thirst, warm your cockles, and calm your nerves.
Here are the 6 rides shifting the island’s mountain biking reputation up a gear. To nail your trip on and off the trails, tuck these insider tips firmly in your back pocket.
1. Blue Derby Network
Blue Derby Trail (photo Rob Burnett)
Blue Derby is a network of trails that surround the town of Derby. Once the centre of a tin mining boom, these days it’s the mountain bikers carving up the dirt. The Blue Derby Network has changed mountain biking in Tasmania and Australia forever. The trails encompass everything mountain bikers love. Cruise to the top of the hill. Tear downhill as fast as you can. Repeat.
Dam Busters trail takes its name from the 1929 disaster when the Cascade Dam burst wiping out the riverbed and half of the township of Derby. Ride the forest and exposed riverbed and finish with a white-knuckle descent to Derby.
Blue Tier trail cuts through the mountain ranges it’s named after, descending to Weldborough Pub. Just in time for a hearty counter meal and a huge selection of craft beer sourced from local Tasmanian microbreweries.
Want to taste a local brew at the source? Head to Little Rivers Brewing Co. in Scottsdale for a Dam Busters pale – it packs a punch, just like the trail it’s named after. Need to brush up on your Australian history? Learn about Tasmania’s tin mining history at the Tin Dragon Interpretation Centre. Feel like cooling down after your ride? Follow the locals lead and skinny-dip underneath Mathinna Falls.
2. Hollybank MTB Park
Launceston is a great base to ride the Hollybank Mountain Bike Park. Only twenty minutes from the city with easy to ride loops and wooden berms. Those seeking a challenge can tackle the Juggernaut track, a ten kilometre downhill descent. A short drive north east from Launceston will lead you to Hollybank Nature Reserve where you’ll find the track.
Adrenaline junkies can hop on a Segway or zip line tour with Hollybank Treetops Adventure or hit a trail of the cool climate wine variety on the Tamar Valley Wine Route.
3. Maria Island National Park
Maria Island (photo Great Walks of Australia)
Maria Island is an island that’s entirely a national park as well as a natural wildlife sanctuary. Historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic sea cliffs and plenty of stories await, but don’t expect to find hard-core mountain biking trails here. The main attraction of exploring Maria Island by bike is getting off the grid. Maria is great for those with little or no mountain biking experience, a keen sense of adventure, and a desire to explore a place free from the confines of modern life. With 30km of tracks and trails on the island, a mountain bike that can handle loose sand, mud and rocks should guarantee you see it all.
There are no shops on the island, and no cars. The only traffic you might encounter is a wandering wombat or hopping kangaroo. Oh, and you may get a bossy honk from a Cape Barren Goose if you don’t follow the island road rules – give way to wildlife.
Stay on the island overnight at Darlington Probation Station, a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site rich with Australian convict history. A short ride from Darlington will take you to the Painted Cliffs. Further up the East Coast at Freycinet National Park, swap two wheels for four and explore the Freycinet National Park on a quad bike.
4. North-South Track, Mount Wellington
North-South Track (photo courtesy of Flow Mountain Bike)
The summit of kunanyi / Mount Wellington looms large behind the riverside city of Hobart and mountain bikers are drawn to it. Enjoy the run down from The Springs along the North-South Track. This is some of Hobart’s best riding with a bonus Instagrammable backdrop.
Afterwards, take a brewery tour at the historic Cascade Brewery, visit Mona to see eye-popping art, or test your nerves abseiling Gordon Dam. Come nightfall pull up a seat at Salamanca Place. You can’t go past Jack Greene for a hearty burger and local craft beer.
5. Penguin MTB Park and Dial Range
The Penguin MTB Park is small, but where it’s lacking in quantity it makes up for in quality. Ride an old disused speedway, a corkscrew bridge, north shore features, and massive berms. Once you’re through head to Dial Range for longer tracks with higher elevations. This rugged area is a mixture of forestry-trails, motocross trails and wooden tramways – an infrequently ridden world of climbing and descending.
After your ride drive to Burnie where you can pour, wax, and seal your own bottle of whisky; drop into places along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail; and tag along on a free penguin tour. For a chilling adventure make your way to Cradle Mountain and dive, leap, shoot and repel your way down river on a canyoning tour with Cradle Mountain Canyons that’s off the charts.
6. Wild West MTB Trails
Montezuma Falls Track (photo Rick Eaves)
This wild remote region has many “˜old school’ trails along former railways, and prospecting routes. Check out the descending Stirling Valley track near Rosebery, or the mellower Montezuma Falls track. Climies Track from Trial Harbour to Granville harbour connects the two shack towns and is exposed to the West Coast’s wild weather.
Following your ride walk Ocean Beach or cruise down the Gordon River through World Heritage rainforest.
Enduro World Series
In 2017 Derby hosted round two of the Enduro World Series, the first time the global event has been held in Australia. The hand cut trails challenged the world’s best Enduro riders. The rain that dogged this year’s EWS added additional challenges on race day, but Tassie shone through.
Travelling with your bike
Travelling to Tasmania with a bike is easy. Grab a bike box or bike bag from your local bike store before you book your flights (don’t forget to include the excess weight). If you land at Launceston Airport there’s an area to assemble your rig and you can rent a vehicle with bike racks from AutoRent Hertz. Campervans offer a cosy alternative, and the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport has room for bags, bikes and your car, so you can just drive on in Melbourne and drive off when you get to Tasmania.
Future Mountain Biking Trails
There’s a swag of mountain bike projects in the pipeline. They include the West Coast Mountain Bike Project; Maydena Bike Park; Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Development; Dial Range Network; Bay of Fires Descent and St Helens Trail Network; South East Mountain Bike Park Proposal; and the much anticipated Mount Wellington Epic Trail – classed as an “epic ride’ by the International Mountain Bike Association it will be only the second of its class in Australia. Now that’s epic!