The Project

The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination First Stage MasterPlan includes 185 kms of single lane mountain bike trails and many other developments that will turn our area into a Mountain Bike Theme Park.

These trails broadly cover the sides of Mt. Tugwell, Mt. Little Joe and Mt. Donna Buang. The plans include trailheads – car parks where bike riders can park and ride with amenities such as toilet blocks, drink stations, signage, kiosks/food vans, shuttle services, pump tracks (for children), etc.

There are also proposals to build bicycle bridges over both Old Warburton Road and Warburton Highway. The Warburton Golf Club is proposed to be a central Hub/Trail Head, extending the car park across the lower end of the course and to building a tunnel under the golf course for bikes coming down from the Aqueduct Trail.

The Aqueduct car parks at Dee Road and Yuonga Road will also be Trailheads, as will developments on the top of Mt. Donna Buang and Mt. Tugwell and at Wesburn Oval. Entrances to Mt. Little Joe will be over the bridges from Mt. Tugwell and from the Rail Trail between Hooks Road and Warburton.

The Backstory

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 Warburton Mountain Bike Destination 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.

2018 IMBA Ride Center Guide
IMBA Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria include the standard of tracks but also other features like standards for shopping for Mountain Bike Goods and Services, Mountain Bike Rentals, Accommodation, Restaurants, Brewpubs/Breweries, Coffee Shops, Emergency Services, Signage, Trailheads (carparks+), shuttle services, events staging, etc. required to achieve the Gold Standard that the Project is aiming for.

It is estimated that the Project will attract up to 221,454  tourists per year over the forty week period that it is planned to have the tracks open. This is a total of 5,536 visitors per week which will be concentrated on weekends, holidays and good weather days. 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

Stage 1

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 original Warburton Mountain Bike Feasibility study 2013 included taking most trails off pre-existing trails and replacing them with 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. The trails at this stage had grown from 90 kms of trails all up to 165 kms just for the first stage.

These information sessions were the first time that most residents became aware of the scale of the project and there was no opportunity to object given. The only feedback forms given out were requesting what type of mountain bike trails and facilities were wanted. Most refused to fill them in because of this lack of options while others simply said “no – don’t want any”.

The Masterplan update of 2020 added even more trails, now 185 kms, as well as bridges and other infrastructure. The consultation for this new plan was due to be held in March, 2020, however Covid-19 Restrictions intervened and the consultation did not happen.

Stage 2

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 if you enquire about the second stage.

Update: 13 November, 2018 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 presented to the Powelltown Community as part of second stage in a community information session.

For more information about the second stage: What’s in the Second Stage?