Rising from the dust: mountain biking revitalises Black Hill Reserve

The refurbishment of mountain bike trails at Black Hill Reserve will help build Ballarat as a premier cycling destination, says Ballarat’s peak tourism body Visit Ballarat. 

The $320,000 City of Ballarat funded mountain bike trail upgrade was completed late 2017 and has since attracted a new group of users to the reserve. 

DIRT RIDER: Black Hill residents Graheme Coutts and Fraser Gibson ride the refurbished mountain bike trails at Black Hill Reserve at least two times a week and say there is potential to attract visitors. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

DIRT RIDER: Black Hill residents Graheme Coutts and Fraser Gibson ride the refurbished mountain bike trails at Black Hill Reserve at least two times a week and say there is potential to attract visitors. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Advanced, intermediate and beginner mountain bike riders have taken advantage of the new tracks, as well as families with young children practicing on the pump tracks and skills area. 

Andrew Harris, president of Ballarat mountain biking group Club Mud, said many visitors to the region were also enjoying riding the new trails. “The feedback on the new trails has been very positive,” he said. 

Many Black Hill residents said the reserve had been revitalised by the recent investment. 

“It was basically a bit of an industrial wasteland from gold mining and now it has been turned into something that community can use and appreciate,” Friends of Black Hill member Jenni Eastwood said. 

Black Hill Reserve was used extensively for mining in the 1800s and early 1900s. The lookout carpark has also been upgraded in recent years. 

Black Hill resident and mountain bike rider Graheme Coutts uses the park at least a few times a week and sometimes daily. 

He said high quality trails meant there was great potential for increased usage by attracting visitors to the reserve. 

“The train station is so close for people from Melbourne to come here. Years ago people would hop on the train to Melbourne to do the bike paths, now they’re coming here,” he said. 

“One of the most repeated quotes I hear from people from out of town is ‘you don’t know how lucky you guys are to have this in the centre of your city’.”

Visit Ballarat are not yet promoting the mountain bike tracks but are working with City of Ballarat to develop promotional material which will be launched at an official event in coming months. 

Visit Ballarat CEO Noel Dempsey said Ballarat could now offer a myriad of cycling options, from road cycling at the Road Nationals, trail riding on the Skipton Rail Trail and Goldfields Track and mountain biking at Black Hill Reserve. 

“The challenge of course is it is not just us - everyone is doing it. So we have to make points of difference,” Mr Dempsey said. 

The Black Hill Masterplan includes other upgrades including new public toilets, bbq shelters, picnic facilities, fencing and signage. City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh said these aspects could be considered as part of future council budgets.

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