Creswick becomes mountain bike Mecca

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford with Creswick mountain bike riders. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford with Creswick mountain bike riders. Picture: Lachlan Bence

A world class mountain bike trail at Creswick will be one of the top destinations in the state for riding enthusiasts.

More than 100 kilometres of new trails will put the Central Highlands town on the map.

It will built near the RACV Goldfields Resort, making it one of the few destinations with close access to four-star accommodation.

Ballarat’s Gove Cycles and Bike Rack Cafe owner Phil Orr said the project would put Creswick among the top 10 mountain bike trails in the state.

“If the trail is a world class trail, which I am sure they will be, it is going to have a huge and a positive impact on local, regional tourism,” he said.

“There might be 10 areas like this – most of the mountain resorts, that is where these professional trail builders have gone up, Mount Bulla, Falls Creek and Thredbo in NSW – there is a network of trails to provide employment during summer months when there is no snow.

“Even the You Yangs, there is a huge network of trails that people will drive just on the weekend to use, but at the You Yangs or Otways there is no shops there, having these close to Creswick and Ballarat is huge.

“Riders will be blown away, being so close to Ballarat you could ride out there, it is a whole new world of trails to explore and ride.”

Riders will be blown away, being so close to Ballarat you could ride out there, it is a whole new world of trails to explore and ride

Mountain bike rider Phil Orr

The other trails across the state draw thousands of riders each year.

None of those areas have the access to shops, public transport or accommodation that Creswick and Ballarat can offer.

There are a number of construction techniques to make the trails at the town among the state’s best.

This includes making sure rainfall does not create ruts in track, or that corners are too tight for turning.

A pump track, which is a small BMX track with bumps, will also be built at Creswick’s Hammon Park.

The state government has promised $2.56 million to fund the mountain bike trail project at Creswick.

Community members and mountain bike riders met at Hammon Park with Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford who announced the funding on Wednesday.

Phil Orr. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Phil Orr. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Tourism to benefit businesses

Creswick businesses are set to reap millions of dollars in added tourism benefits thanks mountain bike trail plan.

State government figures estimate the Hepburn Shire town is expected to see 80,000 visitors annually by 2022 when the project is finished.

More than 100 kilometres of purpose-built mountain bike trails will connect unofficial tracks near Creswick to the town itself.

A trail head will be established at the town’s Hammon Park where a pump track will also be built.

Signage will be built right across the new network.

Residents and the Hepburn Shire Council have been pursuing the project for seven years.

Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein said the community had been pursuing the project for a long time.

“From when council were first involved seven years ago, from the local councillors, staff and mayors, there has been lots of lobbying,” he said.

“This space at Hammon Park, which is actually under utilised in the community, will be used.

“Hepburn Shire is the spa and wellness capital of the state, so to join these tracks with the goldfields track is really fantastic.”

A state government regional tourism and infrastructure grant will fund the development of the trails.

The RACV Goldfields Resort has already invested in the development of mountain bike trails in the Creswick area.

The project will create at least 30 jobs in the Creswick area.

Ms Pulford said the project would be a massive boost to the visitor economy, tourism and community at Creswick.

“That is pretty staggering numbers of mountain bike enthusiasts,” she said.

“This will be a very big project for Creswick, which they have been chasing for seven years.”

Ms Pulford was in the town to announce the million dollar grant with community members, mountain bike riders and councillors on Wednesday.

She said the government was proud to back a project that created jobs and would put Creswick on the map as a mountain bike destination of choice.

“With more than 80,000 annual visitors expected within five years, this couldn’t be more exciting for local businesses,” she said.

“We want more people to enjoy our great outdoors and spend more time in regional Victoria because it has the best of everything.

“The combination of a trail network that is accessible by public transport and linked to a major resort presents a truly unique opportunity that has never been delivered in Victoria.”

The new trails will be one of the most accessible within the state because of train connections in Ballarat.

Tourism brings in $11.5 billion each year to the state’s economy and creates 114,400 jobs.

Creswick Ward Cr Don Henderson said the plan to build mountain bike trails had grown from a small project seven years ago.

“We had to convince the council itself that Creswick should have a mountain bike Mecca,” he said.

“It was not something that was already there, back then it was just some people with ideas.”