Ah, Buller, home to some of our favourite trails, like Stonefly, Misty Twist, Copperhead and of course, the Alpine Epic. With some of the network being over a decade old, the 100km+ of alpine trails are getting a refresh, thanks to $1.25-million from the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Investment Fund.
Buller has had a rough couple of years being forced to close due to bushfires and two Covid affected winters. So when this grant funding was made available, Buller jumped at the opportunity to upgrade its network.
“Our bike park has obviously had its time in the sun. Through its age and Buller focusing on other things, it got a bit old and wasn’t necessarily up to what the modern mountain biker really wanted. This (grant) was a really good opportunity to get an injection of money and put Buller back on people’s radars,” says Dave McCoombe from the Resort’s Management Board.
Buller has always had well-maintained trails, but even well-maintained trails can feel tired after a while. McCoombe says this revitalisation effort allows them to bring in highly skilled builders to breathe new life into the resort’s trail network.
Buller’s XC trails get an update
The updates to the network have been split into three sections, with Contour Works revamping the XC trails, Trailscapes working on the gravity trails, and a civil contractor tidying up the village loop and Delatite River Trail.
All up, 15 of Buller’s XC trails will be getting a nip and tuck — including the Alpine Epic — with some only requiring minor touch-ups and others flagged for nearly a complete rebuild.
“It’s going in, giving them a refresh, boosting all the drainage, adding some features where we can, and bringing those trails up to a more current style — most of them were built between five and ten years ago now,” says Ryan De La Rue from Contour Works.
For De La Rue, this remake of Buller is especially exciting because it’s where he and his business partner, Evan Winton, cut their teeth building all those years ago.
“Buller is where we both started with World Trail back in 2009,” he says. “We feel like that was where we started out in machines, learning how to build trails, and obviously, we’ve learned a lot over the last decade. We’re looking forward to going back there and putting a new flavour on things.”
Don’t forget about the gravity trails
While Contour Works is digging the XC trails, Garry Patterson and his team from Trailscapes will be tidying up the trails along the northern face of Mount Buller.
“We’ve been engaged to freshen up all the downhill tracks. We’ll go through and tidy up the bits that have been worn out over the years, add some new features where we can, and just improve the safety and flow of a lot of those tracks,” says Patterson.
Patterson tells Flow the runs they will be giving a once over are Copperhead, Abomb, International and Outlaw.
“Buller is such a beautiful area, and these trails are so iconic — we’ve been racing downhill there for so many years; it’s the home of Australian Downhill in a way. The terrain and the environment up there can be pretty tricky, but I’m sure we can offer some modern trail building techniques to overcome some of those problems,” Patterson says.
Delatite River trail and the family loop
The final piece of the puzzle is the family loop in the village and the Delatite River Trail.
McCoombe tells Flow they brought in a civil contractor for this area of the project because most of the work on the Delatite River Trail is culvert replacements and bulk earthworks.
“We’re trying to get a bit more shape to it (the Delatite River Trail), so banking the corners, adding alternate lines up banks and wallrides, just to make it a bit more of a mountain bike trail. We’ll have the contractor use the big bulk machinery to move the dirt where we want it, and then we will shape it and make it mountain bike worthy,” says McCoombe.
Covid willing, the work will start at the end of October and early November, using rolling closures to limit disruptions.
“The plan is to have some of the hero products ready to launch for a December ‘welcome to summer.’ We won’t really attack any other key products until we have a lull once school goes back in late Jan-Feb. Then we’ll have another crack to have trails ready for the March long weekend and Easter,” says McCoombe.
As part of this grant, Buller still has a further $750,000 available for upcoming future projects, and McCoombe noted that the refurbishment project would work to complement future plans currently in the pipeline. He told Flow it was a bit too early to say exactly what those projects were, but the wheels are turning in the background — we’ll report back once we know more.
Head over to the resort’s summer website for more info on the project and updates on what’s happening and Mount Buller and Mount Stirling.
We were in Buller earlier this year for the Ride High Country Test Sessions and had an absolute ball. But the trails were starting to feel a bit weary, which is why this news is so exciting. For more from the latest Ride High Country Test Sessions, click here.