Riders worldwide are making tracks to Tasmania. An island at the world’s edge covered in wild mountain bike trails with ribbons of dirt tracks passing some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
By Troy Grundy
Whoever said ‘the fun is over at the end of the trail’ didn’t ride this island. Adrenaline pumping adventures are just minutes from trails. Jump on a quad bike and seek out secluded beaches, fly above the forest canopy, raft wild rivers and abseil Gordon Dam.
It’s not just mountain biking trails drawing people to Tasmania. It also has a good reputation for food and wine trails and, more recently, lesser-known beer and whisky trails are making their mark.
Here are the rides shifting the island’s mountain biking reputation up a gear.
Blue Derby is a network of trails that surround the town of Derby. Once the centre of a tin mining boom, these days it’s the mountain bikers carving up the dirt. The Blue Derby Network has changed mountain biking in Tasmania and Australia forever. The trails encompass everything mountain bikers love. Cruise to the top of the hill, tear downhill as fast as you can. Repeat.
Two of the notable trails are Dam Busters and Blue Tier. The Dam Busters trail takes its name from the 1929 disaster when the Cascade Dam burst, wiping out the riverbed and half of the township of Derby. Ride the forest and exposed riverbed and finish with a white-knuckle descent to Derby.
Blue Tier trail cuts through the mountain ranges it’s named after, descending to Weldborough Pub. Just in time for a hearty counter meal and a huge selection of craft beer sourced from local Tasmanian microbreweries.
Want to taste a local brew at the source? Head to Little Rivers Brewing Co. in Scottsdale for a Dam Busters pale – it packs a punch, just like the trail it’s named after. If you feel like cooling down after your ride, follow the locals lead and take a swim underneath Mathinna Falls.
Launceston is a great base to ride the Hollybank Mountain Bike Park. It's just a twenty-minute drive from the city with easy to ride loops and wooden berms. Those seeking a challenge can tackle the Juggernaut track, a ten-kilometre downhill descent. A short drive north-east from Launceston will lead you to Hollybank Nature Reserve where you’ll find the track.
Adrenaline junkies can hop on a segway or zip line tour with Hollybank Wilderness Adventures or hit a trail of the cool climate wines on the Tamar Valley Wine Route.
Maria Island is covered entirely with a national park and natural wildlife sanctuary. Historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic sea cliffs and plenty of stories await, but don’t expect to find hard-core mountain biking trails here. The main attraction of exploring Maria Island by bike is getting off the grid. Maria is great for those with little mountain biking experience, a keen sense of adventure and a desire to explore a place free from the confines of modern life. With 30 kilometres (18 miles) of tracks and trails on the island, a mountain bike that can handle loose sand, mud and rocks should guarantee you see it all.
There are no shops on the island, and no cars. The only traffic you might encounter is a wandering wombat or hopping kangaroo. You may even get a bossy honk from a Cape Barren goose if you don’t follow the island road rules – give way to wildlife.
Stay on the island overnight at the Maria Island Penutentiary, a historic building that originally housed convicts. A short ride from Darlington will take you to the Painted Cliffs, best visited at low tide to appreciate the layered colours. Further up the East Coast at Freycinet National Park, swap two wheels for four and explore the Freycinet National Park on a quad bike.
The summit of kunanyi (Mount Wellington) looms large behind the riverside city of Hobart and mountain bikers are drawn to it. Enjoy the run down from The Springs along the North-South Track. This is some of Hobart’s best riding with a bonus Instagrammable backdrop.
Afterwards, take a brewery tour at the historic Cascade Brewery, visit Mona (Museum of Old and New Art) to see eye-popping art, or test your nerves abseiling Gordon Dam. Come nightfall pull up a seat at Salamanca Place. You can’t go past Jack Greene for a hearty burger and local craft beer.
The Penguin MTB Park is small, but where it’s lacking in quantity it makes up for in quality. Ride an old disused speedway, a corkscrew bridge, north shore features, and massive berms. Once you’re through head to Dial Range for longer tracks with higher elevations. This rugged area is a mixture of forestry trails, motocross trails and wooden tramways – an infrequently ridden trail of climbing and descending.
After your ride, drive to Burnie where you can pour, wax and seal your own bottle of whisky; drop into places along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail; and tag along on a free penguin tour. For a chilling adventure make your way to Cradle Mountain for a canyoning tour with Cradle Mountain Canyons that’s off the charts.
Tasmania's rugged western region is called the 'wild west' for a reason. This remote region has many ‘old school’ trails along former railways as well as prospecting routes. Check out the descending Stirling Valley track near Rosebery, or the mellower Montezuma Falls track. Climies Track from Trial Harbour to Granville Harbour connects the two shack towns and is exposed to the West Coast’s wild weather.
Following your ride, walk Ocean Beach or cruise down the Gordon River through World Heritage rainforest.