In the Age Newspaper it was reported that the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project would make Warburton ‘The Mountain Bike Capital of Australia’ – The Age 31 July 2015
The Project aims to achieve Australia’s first IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) Gold Standard rating. This requires an absolute minimum of 160 kms of single lane mountain bike tracks and many other developments that will turn our area into a Mountain Bike Theme Park.
The evaluation criteria include the standard of tracks but also other features like standards for shops for Mountain Bike Goods and Services, Mountain Bike Rentals, Shopping, Accommodation, Restaurants, Brewpubs/Breweries, Coffee Shops, Emergency Services, Signage, Trailheads (carparks+), shuttle services, etc.
It is estimated that the Project will attract 165,000 tourists per year over the forty week period that it is planned to have the tracks open. This is a total of 4,125 visitors per week. This is additional to other visitors, including those that currently use the RailTrail and the new tourists that will use the Yarra Valley Trail that is also under development.
The project began when Andrew Swann and Jerry Healy of the Fat Tyre Flyers (a mountain biking group) began to activate for mountain biking trails in Warburton in September 2006. They approached the Warburton Advancement League who put them in contact with Stuart Ored of Parks Victoria. Parks identified the project as compatible with their “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” initiative. Parks appointed a project manager, Steve Pellan, gave the project a name, Warburton Cycling Hub (WCH) and started reviewing the potential locations for trail development. In six months more ‘stake holders’ were brought on board including the Shire of Yarra Ranges, CEDA (Community Economic Development of Australia), DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) and a variety of Mountain Biker organisations that were amalgamated into the YRMTB.
ref: YRMTB – a brief history of the club
The Project was renamed the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination.
In 2013 World Trails Pty. Ltd. was commissioned to prepare the Warburton Mountain Bike Feasibility Study that was released in November 2013.
Community Engagement forums began in 2015 however there was some confusion as to what was really happening and many who attended later reported that they had no idea from those meetings that the proposal was to be of such a large scale and others who did not know that it was about official Mountain Bike Trails at all.
A local newspaper article reporting on one meeting from the time gives little clue to the project: Uphill Task for all Users 30-11-2015
In June 2018 the Master Plan for Stage 1 of the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination was released and five pop-up information sessions were held to inform the public. Changes to the half of the original Warburton Mountain Bike Feasibility study 2013 included the taking of most trails off pre-existing trails creating kilometres of new tracks, the addition of trails on Mount Donna Buang including the Drop A K 37 km trail from the top of Mt. Donna Buang and many trails just above the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail.
These information sessions were often the first time that residents became aware of the scale of the project.
Despite the similarity (plus additions) of the first stage of the project to the Feasibility Study of 2013, and despite being told that the Second Stage will be South and East of the First Stage (the same area that has trails in the Feasibility Study), any enquiries are met with no more information that that general area.
Update: The Black Diamond Trail between Powelltown and Mt. Tugwell and the Big Pat’s Creek Trail between Powelltown and Big Pat’s Creek have been added as part of second stage.
For more information about the second stage: What’s in the Second Stage?