The big one, the epic one. Mt Buller needs little introduction to us mountain bikers, this magnificent place is one of the original destinations and remains the place for big back-country singletrack adventures. Keen for big days with unforgettable memories? Head this way.
We’ve been making the journey up to Mt Buller for many years. Since 1998 to be precise when the steep and rocky mountain played host to one of the terrifying DH race a diminutive and unprepared junior would encounter. More recently, Buller was leading the charge and building premium mountain bike trails like mad with World Trail at the helm and what appeared to be more funding than anywhere else in Australia, it was pumping, and the trails were the greatest.
While things may have gone a little quiet up there over the last couple of summers and the appeal of new trail openings might not have lured in the crowds, the Bike Buller crew still host premium events with the big event companies (Bike Buller, Enduro World Series, VIC State Rounds etc) and the trails certainly haven’t gone anywhere. On the flipside, they have worn in nicely, into what could be the perfect balance of raw, flow, fun and challenge.
We spent two fabulous days up there and got a solid dose of what we love about Mt Buller; this is how it all went down.
The local bike shop – All Terrain Cycles – put us in touch with Ness and Andrew, they know these hills like the back of their gloves, so it was up to us and our cameras to find sections of the vast mountain bike park to shoot that we think are distinctly Buller. We love the beautiful and spectacular Misty Twist and the raging river under the mammoth bridges on the Delatite River Trail, and it’d be rude not to catch a sunset, so with those three zones in the plan, off we set!
Misty Twist is a flowing combination of lush and loamy dirt, spooky white gum trees and vibrant green grass. Built many years ago by machine, you’d never know as the riding line has worn into a narrow winding singletrack delight. We caught the afternoon light on Misty Twist as Ness and Andrew did their thing, swooping through the open turns and jumping off the natural kickers into the next corner, over and over again.
The gum trees take their shape and colour from the 2006 bushfires that tore through the mountain, boiling the undergrowth to the point that the skeletal trees died but stood their ground, it’s quite a sight.
Descending the Delatite River Trail could be the fastest you’ll ever travel on a mountain bike, with open and straight sections of the fire trail so fast you feel like something out of Star Wars. It slows when it joins the river, crisscrossing over its raging torrent on large bridges made from gum trees.
Sometimes you want to race down, while another time it’s nice to slow it down and take it in. Keep a keen eye out for trout in the river, admire the massive ferns, gargantuan gum trees and note how the temperature lifts the further down you go.
Popping out at Mirimbah there are facilities for a BBQ, camp, food and coffee and the best part – uplift. Check out the Bike Buller site for details on how to get back up to Buller; we’d not recommend pedalling up on the same bike you rode down on, that’s for sure.
Up at the Mt Buller Summit, you’ll see forever, and while bike riding isn’t allowed up at the peak, anywhere up that way, you’ll be treated to a light show if the clouds and sun are playing nicely. The layers of mountains below you form distinct lines and different shades of blue for eternity. We’ve had many soulful moments up there and after a big day of riding it’s the ultimate spot to feel high up.
Our second day was a very different one. With the weather coming in, the forecast was ominous as the alps can be so we knew we didn’t have long. And we had e-bikes, that is so exciting! We’ve said it many times, Buller has the potential to become the ultimate e-bike destination, it’s tough there wherever you go, but with the added power it’s a whole lot more enjoyable.
What comes with good sunsets? Great sunrises, of course! Up early we waited patiently for the sun to rare its head over the east, and when it finally popped it set Buller on fire, in a good way of course. For a moment in time, our cameras were in heaven, snapping wildly at the golden-lit trails and backlit leg hair on the Copperhead Trail, right next to the village.
Down trails named Gang Gangs, Woolly Butt and bursting through Howqwa Gap we passed a large group of school kids on a camping expedition having breakfast with worried looks on their faces, the weather headed their way was indeed not in their favour, but hey, character building, right?
We wanted to ride Stonefly, Jasper hadn’t been to Buller before, and that experience had to happen for him. Stonefly was long regarded as the best trail in Australia; we wrote it on the cover of AMB once, it’s true! Stonefly is a masterpiece in trail alignment and construction; a 10km loop up near the summit of Mount Stirling and back down. It’s incredible, and worth the trip to Buller alone, just to do this great ride.
Stonefly forms a part of the Buller Epic, too, if you’re game, it’s a memorable experience. The Epic is a 50km ride from Mt Buller to Mirimbah, taking in many of the best parts and then heading way out along a spur deep into the high country. It’s tough, and it’s had its share of criticism from riders who may have hoped for more descending in their day, but it’s a great adventure. Keen? Do it.
We didn’t do the Epic this time around, it was up to the summit of Mt Stirling for some shots, before plummeting back down. Stirling gives you a view of where you’ve come from, a great sense of achievement. Buller seems so far away, but we know that between us and lunch is a whole lot of great singletrack, there’s SO much of it.
Buller will always be a great place to visit; it’s hard, it’s rewarding, pretty, fresh, and epic. Don’t count it out, put it on your list.
For more information, trail maps and everything else you need, head to Ride High Country’s website.