Words by Flow | Images by Matt Staggs, Josh Stephenson

Yackandandah. The town with the best name in mountain biking had been simmering away quietly for a while, but that’s turned into a rolling boil now, with over 50km of effortlessly enjoyable trails open and waiting. You can be assured that Yackandandah, just like Bright, Mt Beauty or Beechworth, is going to become a household name amongst Australian mountain bikers.

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No stress, all smiles. Yack is mountain biking at its relaxing finest.

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This passionate community has paid close attention to the important elements that have made some of the other towns in the region such successful mountain bike destinations, and then found their own niche in the landscape. They’ve absolutely nailed it too.

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Some of the biggest Yack Tracks fans we’ve met have been locals from Beechworth, which lies just 15 minutes’ drive away. Given how great Beechworth’s own trails are, that praise put Yack right on top of the pile for us to visit during our Ride High Country Road Trip.

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Mining has left some interesting features for the trail builders to work with, like these cool old chutes on ‘Skulls’.

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Classic riding like this will never grow old.

Yackandandah brings a much needed pure cross-country experience to the Victorian High Country. The riding here is gloriously simple, you don’t need a shuttle, you don’t need a map, you don’t need to psych yourself up, or even be that fit. These are trails built for the pure enjoyment of it all, not for scaring yourself or finding your limits. You can lose yourself (metaphorically -the signage is too good to get genuinely lost) for a few hours; just you and the bike in the bush, with seemingly never-ending, flowing cross-country singletrack. It’s really interesting terrain too, especially in the areas where mining has re-shaped the landscape, with deep gullies, old water races, and caves gouged into the clay.

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The crew in Yack have got to be some of the most easy-going folk out there, and in mountain biking that’s saying something.

Are the trails tame? Not when you start riding them fast, they’re not. But they won’t intimidate a newer rider either, and we think that’s going to be real drawcard for this town. Experienced riders can bring someone who is fresh to the sport out to Yack, and both are going to love it. The growth of mountain biking depends vitally on trails like this, and we feel that the High Country is going to benefit greatly from having such a welcoming addition for new mountain bikers. It’s the kind of town and trails that can make someone fall in love with mountain biking.

That diversity of riders who can enjoy trails like the Yack Tracks was on full display amongst the crew of locals who came out to show us around the forest. A mixed bunch – men and women, young and not-so-young, some who were new to it all, and others who’d been mountain biking for 20 years or more – they welcomed us with open arms, and after a loop it was back to the Star Hotel for a drink and a chat.

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Top notch way-finding.

As a visitor, it just doesn’t get any easier than the experience offered by Yack – it’s real rock up and ride stuff for out-of-towners. In the car park you’ll find a brilliant map board, with four recommended loops mapped out. All the information is there, from distances to elevation profiles and estimated times. There’s no poking through Strava or phoning a local to beg directions, you simply pick the loops that match the experience you’re after, then follow the arrows. It’s some of the best trail marking we’ve ever encountered, and the effort that has been put into perfecting the navigation can make all the difference between an incredible day on the trails, or a world of confusion.

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We’re very excited that a region like this, already heaving with great riding, can suddenly have an entirely new, and totally unique, option for mountain bikers. Yack is a real feather in the cap of the Victorian High Country, and a spot that is going to play a big role in ensuring a stream of fresh riders find their feet in the sport. We’ll be back, and we’ll be bringing a few potential mountain converts with us too. We’re sure that Yack will woo them nicely.

For more information about riding Yackandandah, or across the whole region, head to www.ridehighcountry.com.au

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Meanwhile, back at the Star Hotel.

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James Lacey, head of the Yackandandah Old Blokes Biking on Sundays (YOBBOS).

Now that was a good day on the trails.

Now that was a good day on the trails.

 

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