Mt Buller has magnetism. We're pulled to it, every summer, dragged down the Hume, our excitement increasing at each milestone; Goulburn, Gundagai, Tarcutta, Albury, Mansfield.... Buller, we've arrived.
This time around we’re here to ride the Dirty Dozen – a collection of 12 trails in north-east Victoria, hand picked by local riders. Buller’s the first of five stops, and it’s home to four trails of the dozen, more than any other location, including some trails which we’d rate as amongst the very best in Australia.
Named after the placid little snakes that call Buller home, Copperhead is a serpentine flow-down trail, which careens down the ski runs and gullies close to the Buller village. While most of Buller’s trails take you way out into the hills, Copperhead is right on the village doorstep, so you don’t need to commit to a big ride to enjoy it.
Copperhead isn’t a flatout downhill track, though it is entirely descending, and can be ridden on any bike. Like most of Buller’s trails, the faster you hit it, the more features start to emerge, gaps, hip jumps and rollers that can be doubled up. This trails is all about getting in your rhythm and pumping your way down the hill – there are no white knuckle moments and the width and vision you’ve got down the trail makes it easy to relax and get into a groove. Fast riders can smash out the Copperhead descent in under three or four minutes, or it’ll take up to ten if you’re cruising.
If the chairlift isn’t running, it’s an easy pedal back out to the road and back into the main trail network – head up Corn Hill if you’re keen to keep riding, or up the new Split Rock climb and back into the village.
When it was opened a few years ago, Stonefly represented a new standard in professional trail building. We remember being completely blown away the first time we rode this trail, awed by the terrain and the incredible four-kilometre descent too. To this day this wilderness ride continues to many people’s favourite Buller trail – it’s a really special part of the world and the ride is sensational.
Stonefly is a 10km loop that lies across the saddle from Mt Buller, on the eastern slopes of Mt Stirling. The loop will take most people an hour or more, plus it’s a bit of a pedal out to the trail head, so make sure you’ve got a sambo or a pocket full of gels on board so you can really enjoy the whole experience.
Stonefly is 90% purpose built singletrack, and thanks to creative, inspired trail building even the six-kilometre climb is a joy. On the way up, you pass through some amazing stands of gums, across waterfalls, and the epic view of Willo’s Breeze – don’t chew your stem, sit up and enjoy it all.
The descent is pure magic, traversing quickly through the open forests of snow gums and picking up pace before smacking you into an incredible roller coaster of berms and corners. You’ll be wetting yourself with laughter by the end, we promise.
From the finish of Stonefly you’ve got the option to climb back over Corn Hill to the village, or press on with even more descending, heading down the Circuit Rd to the River Spur Trail and Delatite River trail to Mirimbah where you can catch the shuttle back up!
Delatite River Trail
Delatite is a hard trail to put into words. Fast, is definitely one of the words you could use, but it’s grossly inadequate to convey the eye-blurring, face-whipping speeds you can hit on this trail. Scenic is another, but again, it doesn’t get across just how beautiful this trail is as it follows and crosses the tumbling Delatite River either.
Because words are useless to get across how much we love this trail, you’ll just have to experience it for yourself. And experience is the right word, because it’s a ride that will stay with you a long time.
Descents of this speed and length are so rare in Australia, that Delatite is a real standout. But it’s not just the vertical drop and pace that make it so amazing, it’s the way the trail crosses the river on huge log bridges, the way it finishes in a beautiful park on the river’s edge, the fact you can so easily catch the shuttle back up… it’s just incredible.
The Australian Alpine Epic
Buller’s latest mammoth addition to their network is the Epic, as it’s simply known. As the first trail in Australia to be granted IMBA Epic status, it’s a huge 40km point to point ride, an all-day affair for even fit, capable riders. It’s a big day, but it’s worth the burn.
The Epic kicks off on familiar territory, using all the old favourite trails, including the ascent of Stonefly, to take you out to Mt Stirling before heading off into wilder country. Pack some food and be prepared for all kinds of weather – this is the alps, and you’re not likely to have phone reception on parts of the Epic either.
After some grunty climbs and singletrack intermissions you find yourself at the top of the pay-off, in the form of a nine-kilometer, life-changing descent. The sheer amount of work that has gone into this trail is mind-blowing, a never-ending ribbon of perfect trail that just keeps on giving. Every time you get the sense you’ve reached the bottom, the trail pitches down and you’re flying into another bit of trail that in any other context would have you stopping to ride again and again.
Eventually it does end, back on the banks of the Delatite River once again, for a final mellow cruise back to Mirimbah where you can relax in shellshocked awe of what you’ve just ridden.
For more information on the trails of the Dirty Dozen, head to: http://www.thedirtydozen.com.au or for information on Buller, http://bike.mtbuller.com.au/index.php