“Cyclists are arriving daily from as far as Townsville over the Christmas holiday period even though the trails have only been open a few weeks and if these early indications are anything to go by there is plenty more to come.
“Cycle tourism is a significant industry in countries such as the UK and Europe as well as closer to home in New Zealand and we want to develop this into a similar industry here on the Tablelands.
“Data indicates in New Zealand that cycling tourists stay more than twice as long as the average tourist and during their time in the country spend about 1.6 times more.”
Behind the mountain bike trails project is the Tablelands Integrated Mountain Bike Alliance (TiMBa) together with the Tablelands Outdoor Recreation Association (TORA).
The total cost of the project is approximately $2m with $250,000 already secured for the current financial year in grants through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Tablelands Regional Council have also been very supportive of the project and have brokered significant funding during the last two years.
Tablelands Futures Corporation has been largely responsible for overseeing the allocation of the funding and managing the project.
For David Prete, a director with TiMBa, it was a proud moment seeing the bike trails open and he is looking forward to more in the future.
“It is amazing to think this all started 10 years ago. To ride real tracks purpose built overlooking the Tablelands and Lake Tinaroo is just spectacular.
“Where we are today would not have been possible without the support of Mayor Rosa Lee Long and her council, Tablelands Futures Corporation, Minister Steve Dickson and Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, in particular local senior officers from this department, Michael Overland and Andrew Millerd.
“It has been hard work but the long term goal of this project has always been at the forefront of our minds. This project comes with huge economic and social benefits as well as the opportunity to develop another tourism niche.”
Mr Prete said the TiMBa led mountain bike trail project would ultimately bring together a network of regional trails capitalising on the Tablelands diverse regional landscapes and local highlights as well as its rich mining history.
“The trails meander through open forest of gums, bloodwoods, mahogany, she-oaks, grasstrees and cycads. Some of the trails also pass former forestry experimental plots of teak, blackbutt and tallowwood trees,” he said.
While there is currently 20km of off road cycle tracks this will grow to encompass more than 60km. Mr Prete said these trails, as they open, would connect with a network of internal roads such as State Forestry and Fire Roads to create cycle routes to link key towns on the Tablelands.
“As we receive more funding these trails will open progressively. We hope to complete the project by June 2015.”
The first fully completed trails, located at the top of Rifle Range Road in Atherton, opened late November. The newest completed ride – trail six (also known as Ridgey Didge) – opened on December 27, 2012.
World Trail, under the leadership of Glenn Jacobs and Dylan Jefferies, has been behind the design of the trails. Internationally renowned, World Trail have built trails around the world for the International Cycling Union, the 1996 World Course in Cairns, the 2000 Sydney Olympics Mountain Bike course and the site for the 2009 Mountain Bike World Titles in Canberra.
“Glenn and Dylan are the best in the business and we are lucky to have them involved in this project. Their stamp gives our trails international appeal,” Mr Prete added.
For more information on the trails, visit www.tablelandtrails.com (http://www.cairnstrails.com) or contact a TiMBa representative on 4096 7407.
Interviews: Michael Trout, Chair of Tropical Tablelands Tourism M: 0412 183 194
David Prete, TiMBa Director M: 0418 878 391 E: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:dmprete@