An ambitious plan to link hundreds of Creswick’s BMX tracks will finally be built after lengthy negotiation delays.
With the sod turned at Hammon Park on Tuesday, the town’s residents, restaurants and racers are riding high on the long-awaited plan for a mountain-biking mecca.
When constructed, the Creswick Trails Project will host more than 100 kilometres of purpose-built mountain bike trails, with projections that Creswick could host 80,000 visitors annually by 2022.
The state government contributed $2.56 million to the project last year, with Hepburn Shire Council providing $200,000 and the Creswick community raising around $200,000.
Villages of the Old Goldfields Association (VOGA) Cycle Club president Chris Chatham said it was “going to be a great thing” for Creswick, with international mountain-biking retailers already considering setting up shop. “The sport is expanding, it’s going to bring more people to town,” he said.
“There has been a movement in mountain-biking just in general, we’re going to tap into that, there’s going to be an opportunity to have a mountain bike trail network between Bendigo and Ballarat.
“The idea is we can eventually attract high-level, national events.”
The first element to be constructed with be the Hammon Park pump track, an off-road BMX-style circuit which caters for experienced and novice riders.
The sod turn on Tuesday signified a concrete direction for the long-gestating project, which has been plagued by delays due to negotiations between landowners.
Although construction on the trail head at Hammon Park was planned to start in April this year, an agreement to collaborate was only signed by all six land owners at the end of August.
Hepburn Shire Council deputy mayor Don Henderson said the “community has been on edge” about the project for years, with the trails to become a major tourism attraction for the town.
“100 kilometres of trails doesn’t bring people for a day ride, they come and they stay overnight, they’re hungry and the do eat in our restaurants and cafes,” he said.
Cr Henderson noted trails had changed multiple times, with one landowner HVP Plantations saying riders would be “disrupted” by operations in original plans, and community uproar about the car park being to close to homes.
“You do have to do designs … and unfortunately you do have to pay people to negotiate, but not a lot of that money has been used,” she said. “[Negotiation] takes time, and time is money. It’s normal for any project, though this one has been a bit more difficult.”