Up in tropical north Queensland, lies one of Australia’s fastest growing and most amazing mountain bike destinations: Atherton. A town where the singletrack is more plentiful than the mangoes, or even the cane toads, and the living is good.
Atherton has been receiving a lot of attention lately, after the tireless work of local mountain bikers secured a near unprecedented level of funding for trail construction as part of a regional development grant. Over the last twelve months this funding has been put to work, dug into the rocky hillside of Mt Baldy. Almost 40km of professionally designed and built singletrack has been put dug in so far, with close to another 30km to be built throughout 2104.
Naturally, Flow had to check it out.
Atherton is about an hour inland from Cairns, up on the tablelands at around 800 metres above sea level, amongst the rolling hills of cattle country and banana plantations. It’s cooler, and a little drier, than Cairns down on the coast, making it the ideal escape from the maddening humidity that can plague this part of the world. We have a feeling this town will become a popular refuge amongst the Europeans in Cairns for next year’s World Cup!
There are plenty of things that make Atherton a special place (the volcano lakes and colossal pubs are two), but the proximity and the quality of the trails are really amazing. A five minute pedal from the coffee shop will see you deep in singletrack, where you can lose yourself for a few hours in the steep terrain, riding deep benched flow trail. The local crew are all quality folk too, and more than happy to have an outsider lob in on their ritual morning ride, leaving at 6:00am every single day.
We’ll let the photos and video tell the story. Atherton is truly one of Australia’s must-ride destinations. Ah, take us back, we can still taste the mangos!
60km of purpose built mountain bike singletrack, that is plenty!
Being up high in the tropics is a unique experience, like nowhere else in the country.
A social ride at 6am happens every day, as there is a healthy riding scene in town and growing.
This trail is named Bandy Bandy, which evidently the name of a snake. We didn’t see one, just deliciously green bush and deep flowing turns.
Best coffee in town, Gallery 5, and coincidentally the hub for any social cycling gatherings in Atherton.
Can a trail flow up a hill, too? Yes.
Bush tucker and Stans Sealant, make sure you’re running tough rubber and a tubeless setup, or else.
A short and scenic drive from Atherton, is Millaa Millaa Falls. Heavenly!
The tropics can dish out some big afternoon storms, which can both cool down and boost traction to the trails.
High up in the clouds, the beginning of Ricochet Track is the place to engage ‘extreme mode’.
Keep an eye out for sneaky gap lines and doubles on Ricochet, the keen eye will see many creative lines to shortcut through the air, if you’re game.
There must be at least 8000 big, fast berms on the Ricohet descent.
It’s not the type of trail you’d normally find in the middle of the Aussie bush – rather under a chairlift in Europe or Canada!
Dirt Art were munching away at the earth when we were in town, adding a bunch more singletrack to the area.
From Leasie’s Lookout you can sit on a stone sofa and feast your eyes on the green rolling hills of the tablelands. Absolutely stunning views.
Chase a chook, ride a horse or squash a cane toad, all in a day at Atherton.
Early bird gets the nicest conditions, with the middle of the day quite warm, we snuck out at first, and last light to make the most of it.
It was hard to pick our favourite trail, but Ridgey Didge is a solid contender. Following a rolling ridge line this track milks the terrain for speed and maximum fun.
Lake Eacham, the ideal way to spend the hot hours of the day. Swimming in a big, blue volcanic lake. Simply divine! And there are turtles.
Rock armouring on the sensitive areas will ensure the trail can withstand heavy rainfall, high traffic and the slim chance a fiery volcanic apocalypse.
Waterfall Track was one of our most favourites, for the scenery and natural features that it takes in. Chapeau to the trail builders, they’ve not only made them fun to ride, but a great way to experience the beautiful bushland.
This big corner, named Croc Belly is a masterpiece. Just check out the amount of work that has gone into it!
The green grade trails around the flat lands open up the area to all rider abilities, once you master them it’s time to head up into the steeper terrain for the juicy stuff.