Less-than-pleasant weather couldn’t keep dedicated mountain bikers away from the trails in the Creswick this weekend as part of the 2018 Brackenbury Challenge.
The two day event based at Hammon Park, the flagship event for the sport in the region, has also taken place in the locale of a major upgrade project aimed at turning Creswick into a mountain biking destination.
Construction on the first stage of the project is due to begin this year with the first part of the trail-head at Hammon Park is set to be finished by June.
Creswick is set to become a world-class mountain biking destination, with more than 100km of new trails planned to make it one of the biggest mountain biking destinations in the country.
The completed trail network, which will connect to existing mountain bike trails and the Goldfields Track, is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors to Creswick each year, with an estimated direct economic impact of $11.5 million, according to the Dirt Art Trail Master Plan report.
VOGA Cycling Club member Michael Veal said the Creswick trails will have the best connections of any mountain bike destination in Australia.
“It will have the best connections with the V/Line and it is only about 15km by road from Ballarat,” Mr Veal said.
Ballarat’s Gove Cycles Phil Orr told the Courier last year 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.
State government figures estimate the Hepburn Shire town is expected to see 80,000 visitors annually by 2022 when the project is finished.
The state government committed $2.56 million to the estimated $2.9 million project last year. The project will create at least 30 jobs in the Creswick area.