*This story was updated on December 15 when the trail map was released.
Sitting on the Northeast coast of Tasmania, George Town is in the midst of a resurgence. It’s one of the oldest settlements in Australia, and has a rich maritime history, what’s claimed to be the cutest penguin colony in the country and, more recently, mountain bike trails.
You may remember Mount George, the pocket park just outside town we visited earlier this year. With about 150m of elevation to play with and short trails, this gravity network is the ideal quick hit, but waiting in the wings is something much bigger.
A few kilometres up the Tamar Highway are the Tippogoree Hills. World Trail has been quietly working away on this tiered network that will have 57 km of trails upon completion. Stage one has been ready for riders for some time, but was at the mercy of a civil contractor battling an extremely wet winter to build a railway underpass.
We’re happy to report that said civil contractor has finished, and stage one of the Tippogoree Hills trail network will open on December 17!
The trail map has only just been released, so we caught up with Glen Jacobs from World Trail to get the low down on what you can expect from this first lot of trails in the Tippogoree Hills. And what’s still to come.
The lower Toppogoree Hills will have a smidge over 22km of trails ready to ride just before the holiday season kicks into full swing. If you’re keen to sample every trail in stage one, Peter Rickards from the George Town Council tells us to prepare for a 35 km pedal as you’ll have to repeat a few trails to access others.
“It’s a little different to anything we’ve ever built,” says Jacobs. “There are technical bits, big slabs and berms. It’s just a real cluster of uniqueness.”
The Tipp Hills are laid out in a tiered format, with each section of the network going higher on the hill. Each area will be connected and also shuttleable. So from the very top, you could descend all the way back down to the trailhead, or pull out part way down and climb back up. The lowest tier on the hill is what’s on the verge of opening.
The trails start off the side of the East Tamar Highway, with some cruisey green loops right next to the car park, and for stage one, all of the trails come together at nodes at the top and bottom. However, the fun begins when you venture underneath the rail line.
Heading over to the right side of the tracks
Send It Shuttles will be expanding its uplift service into the Tippogoree Hills — and they’ll be running on opening day — or riders can head for the top under their own steam. Even from the shuttle drop-off, to access what we expect will be the flagship descents, some climbing is still required.
As it so happens, one of the trails Jacobs was the most hyped about was a 1.1km black diamond climb to the summit called Knight Shift.
“It is one of the most fun climbs you’ll ever ride. It’s a funky black diamond and gets you to the summit pretty quick. It’s bloody fun, you’ve got to charge in, and if you can make it up without a dab, you’re doing well,” he laughs.
It’s not often that trail builders get so excited about up-trails, so take from that what you will. Of course, there is also an easier way to the summit, but it’s also twice as long.
Slabby erratic gravity
On our first visit to George Town, we got a sneak peek of the Devil’s Elbow descent, named for a chunk-eriffic rock slab that forms the crux of the trail.
“You’re constantly moving; it’s like a butterfly in the wind. You just see them flying, flap flap; left, right, up, down; left, right, up, down. That’s what these trails feel like, and there are no real dead spots…” explained World Trail’s Max Connor, who built Devil’s Elbow.
But that’s not the only slabby goodness you’ll find later this month.
“The Black Swan descent is a bit like Devil’s Elbow; it’s rowdy, it’s got boulders and rocks and everything, but it’s a little bit faster, and a little bit bermy — short, stabby and playful,” says Jacobs.
It may sound like janky tech is the story of the show, but it’s only one part of the lower Tipp Hills network. The World Trail team were given creative freedom to use the hill and shape the trail within their unique style as builders. This has led to a broad spectrum of ride experiences, even just looking at the more difficult trails.
“Devil’s Elbow was mainly designed by Max (Connor), one of our head machine operators. Black Swan was built by Jack (Dean), and then there is Aluminati, which Rhys Atkinson built, and that’s totally different again,” he says. “It’s got big surging dips and gaps between trees, and some technical high speed off camber.”
More than just black diamond trails
While the black diamond trails at Tipp Hills may capture a lot of the limelight, they only comprise a small portion of stage one. Trails called Liquidus, and Crackerjack make for longer green and blue descents from the summit, and Jacobs tells us the bottom section of the blue-rated Mucho Gusto is a bit like an oversized 4X track.
“Coming down from the shuttle drop, there is a trail called Roulette, a green airflow trail. It’s a bit like the new Hazy Days trail in Derby — roller, roller, roller, berm, roller, berm, and there are multiple lines the whole way down,” he says.
This is only just the start
While we’ve been patiently waiting for the railway underpass to be complete, World Trail has been up in the Tipp Hills, quietly digging away.
“What’s about to open is only a fraction of what’s on Tippogoree Hills, we built so much more, and it’s pretty funky,” Jacobs says.
The second stage of the trails is currently in the curing process, and they are well into stage three. Jacobs teased airflow and jump trails that are like “taking the terrain slider and Google Earth and pulling the hills all the way up.”
To celebrate the opening of stage one of the Tippogoree Hills, shuttles are free from 10am – 2pm and putting on free burgers and sausages for the first 100 folks at the trailhead starting at 11am.
For more info, head over to the Wild Tamar website.