Apparently there's a bit of rivalry in Tasmania between Launceston and Hobart. To those up north, Hobart is usually called 'Slowbart', while the southerners retort with the sledge 'Inceston'. And of course you won't catch a Hobartian drinking Boags or a Launcestonite downing a Cascade either. Having just come back from a visit to both cities, we're not taking any sides, and at least as far as mountain biking is concerned, we'll call it a draw - both of these towns have an incredible amount of quality mountain biking on their doorstep.
Our recent journey to the apple isle had two motivations, the first of which was to check out the brand new Hollybank Mountain Bike Park, just a few minutes outside Launceston. While mountain biking was first slated as a development option for the Hollybank Forest Reserve in 2003, it was only early this year that shovels broke earth and construction began on more than 20km of new trails. Local Tasmanian trail builders, Dirt Art, have been hard at work in the rocky terrain all year and now the goodies are on the table to be enjoyed.
There are three main trails in the park, all feeding into each other and allowing a natural progression; there’s something for riders still developing their skills all the way through to those looking to put a few dings in their rims on high-speed, rocky hammerfests. The 5.5km No Sweat loop passes through a wide range of vegetation and terrain, with no significant climbing and an all-weather trail surface that should allow year-round riding.
While more experienced mountain bikers will likely bypass No Sweat for the more challenging Tall Timbers or Juggernaut, this kind of trail is absolutely key for growing the sport and we’re sure it’ll see a lot of use by tour groups, school groups and those getting into the sport. It also passes right by an incredible swimming hole, so note it down for a hot day. No Sweat eventually drops you back right at the trailhead of the intermediate rated Tall Timbers, which has some of the most incredible, loamy berms. Their perfect, rounded, bowled out shape is like they’ve been carved out the earth with some giant ice-cream scoop. After six kays of ripping flow-trail descending and mellow climbs, you find yourself with the option to take on Juggernaut, the real jewel of the Hollybank park.
Without a word of exaggeration, Juggernaut is amongst the best trails we’ve ridden in Australia.
Juggernaut is technically rideable as an out and back (a 20km return trip), but with the whole trail being easily shuttleable, we can’t envisage too many people will go climbing it. The access road to the top is a gazetted public road, though rather than shake our own car to bits, we took advantage of the shuttle services offered by VertigoMTB who can provide un uplift service for over a dozen riders at very reasonable prices. Check here for shuttle service dates.
Without a word of exaggeration, Juggernaut is amongst the best trails we’ve ridden in Australia. Constructed in incredibly rugged, rocky terrain, Dirt Art have managed to blend the best of both machine-built and hand-built trails in one 20+ minute descent. Getting the trail building digger through involved some fairly hairy winching exercises apparently, but the results speak for themselves. Juggernaut possesses a technical challenge that few new generation ‘flow trails’ deliver. It’s fast, rough in places, and uses the natural rock features to find awesome rhythm with some steeper black-diamond lines thrown in as optional extras. Eventually the trail links back onto Tall Timbers to complete the return loop, or you can easily pop back out onto the access road to shuttle till your heart is content and your brakes don’t work any more.
Hollybank is the first cab off the rank in the North-East Tasmania mountain bike master plan, and with a lot more trail on the way we can see ourselves spending a lot of time in this sensational part of the world. Jump on a plane (or the ferry) and take a look for yourself.