DIY Paradise: Trailshare Cabins, Kulnura

What it’s all about.

That’s the dream, but making it happen is another story. In reality, building your own trails is a lot of hard work. Walking the land, planning alignments, buying machinery, years of digging, tweaking, clearing, maintaining – it’s a labour of love, and it takes an especially motivated person to see the vision through to completion.

Flowing through the massive gums. Parts of the Trailshare loop feel a lot like riding in Mt Buller.

So we packed a couple of test bikes, and headed north, off the freeway, down a dirt road a few kay, and into paradise.

Neil Soderlund and his dog George at Trailshare Cabins.

Neil Soderlund is one of those people. An eccentric, inquisitive, unstoppable fellow, Neil had the same dream for us all, but then he worked like mad make it happen. When he recently invited us to come stay with him at his creation, Trailshare Cabins, located in Kulnura about an hour out of Sydney. So we packed a couple of test bikes, and headed north, off the freeway, down a dirt road a few kay, and into paradise.

The accommodation is all solar powered and uses tank water – it’s all built with sustainability in mind.
Neil took advantage of this fallen tree to use it as the basis for a suspended deck.
Looking north out towards the Watagans.

Sometimes the stars just align. Neil was looking for somewhere to build his trail network just as a 400-acre lot of rugged, undeveloped land came onto the market as part of a foreclosure sale, just out of Sydney. It was perfect: steep, rocky, with deep gullies, a few old logging benches cut through the bush, and useless to just about anyone except mountain bikers and bushwalkers. He snapped it up.

These aren’t your usual DIY trails!

Neil’s plans weren’t halfhearted; these weren’t going be few squiggles scratched into the hills. Inspired by the professionals, he set about getting the machinery to do it properly – Bobcats, dozers, quad bikes, and a whole arsenal of tools soon filled the new sheds and shelters built to house them.

Neil and his wife Karen, who also live on the property most weekends.
Just some of the trail building arsenal.

Learning as he goes is just part of Neil’s life – by the age of 14 he’d taught himself how to smith knives, and he’d begun selling them to hunters in South Africa. Over the years he’s learnt how to build bike frames out of carbon fibre, designed and built his own e-bikes, created new systems of couplings for collapsible travel bikes and then ridden them around the globe, designed houses, started new businesses and much more. For him, learning how to build trails (and how to operate and maintain the machines to do it) was just another challenge.

Over the past two years, he and his co-builder Laszlo Varga (an Austrian ski instructor who turned trail builder after discovering there was wasn’t a lot of snow in Oz!) have spent their weekends carving in more than 20km of trail through some beautiful countryside, full of massive sandstone outcrops and caves, with huge Turpentine trees and rainforest gullies.

This suspension bridge was built by Neil to cross a deep gully, using methods first pioneered to build low-cost, safe bridges in African communities.
Another angle of Neil’s hand-built bridge.

What started out as a personal playground has become something that Neil wants to share with other riders, and so he hatched plans for putting some accommodation on the property. Once again, it was Neil’s creative brain that went into overdrive; he had four shipping containers converted into neat cabins of his own design, assembled around an open-air dining area, complete with a cool suspended deck that looks out into the valley below.

The best bit? The trails start literally from the edge of the fire pit, so once you’ve had your morning coffee, it’s about a five metre roll into the first berm.

The accommodation is all built with fireproof materials too. Hydraulic rams lift up the side panels of the shipping containers to seal them off if the property needs to be abandoned in the instance of bush fire.

There’s accommodation for seven guests, with bathrooms in each cabin, and a communal kitchen. Outside there are wood burning heaters alongside a very cool outdoor lounge area. The best bit? The trails start literally from the edge of the fire pit, so once you’ve had your morning coffee, it’s about a five metre roll into the first berm. We’re going to be back here in the future; we can promise you that. It’s hard to believe how perfect the set up really is.

The trails literally begin at the accommodation.

If you’re interested in checking out Trailshare Cabins, get in touch with Neil ([email protected]). The trails are only available to members – with two options to join – one that includes a week’s free accommodation and a trail access-only membership.  Details and prices are on their website . You’re welcome to try before you buy – just send an email to let them know you’re coming. If membership doesn’t appeal, but you’d like to book a stay this can be done directly through Air BnB.


Hammering down one of the longest descents.
The terrain is steep! There’s almost 400m of vertical drop on the property, that’s a lot.

Where is it?

Trailshare Cabins and the trails aren’t open to the public without booking in for a stay, so don’t rock up expecting to ride unless you’ve got your name down for a cabin, which you can do via their website or Air BnB.

Must-Ride: Mt Wellington North-South Track, Tasmania

When a trail is a really good one, you’ll know it’s name before you even know where it starts. Hobart’s North-South Track is one of these masterpieces. A ten kilometre (mostly) descent that takes riders from a signposted car park at The Springs, half way up Mt Wellington, down to Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park.

This is a track that is purpose built but has nothing to do with racing. It’s genius lies in its ability to thrill riders of all types, a carefully crafted journey with a landscape that changes dramatically along the way.

Postcard city views.
Postcard city views.

Our partner for this ride was Simon Townsend, a bushwalking guide in a past life who knows the Tasmanian bush like the back of his hand. The pannier racks on the back of his bike give him away as the father of a bubbling two year old and someone who is refreshingly unconsumed by new bike technology.

We couldn’t have asked for a more local, Tuesday afternoon experience. This is a track where you simply come to enjoy the riding and relax.

Moss thrives in the rainforesty first part of the trail.
Moss thrives in the rainforesty first part of the trail.

Moss thrives in the rainforesty first part of the trail.

Starting in rainforest with thick moss on both sides of the trail it’s hard to decide whether to take in the scenery or focus firmly ahead, pumping the surface for thrills and speed.

Simon says: 'Let's get going already!"
Simon says: ‘Let’s get going already!”

All of a sudden, the wide, hard packed singletrack catapults riders into an enormous rock-scape. An oversized scree slope created by a glacial melt, frozen by time, covers the hillside to the left. While not an uncommon sight in Tassie, it’s not something you’ll see on the mainland.

The rocks take some momentum to get over, but they’re not the type to spit you off line or make you feel unstable on the bike.

The rocks take some momentum to get over, but they’re not the type to spit you off line or make you feel unstable on the bike.
The rocks take some momentum to get over, but they’re not the type to spit you off line or make you feel unstable on the bike.
Better to pack your own food.
Better to pack your own food.

A paved rocky trail shoots you past moss-covered boulders to more closed in bushland. Cast your head right for a quick view of the city.

The rocky scree slope is an amazing sight to take in.
The rocky scree slope is an amazing sight to take in.

If we could ride a trail like this regularly, we’d shoot through here yelling, screaming and holding our speed. Not sure when we’d see such a dramatic landscape again, we had to get off our bikes to take it all in.

The Octopus Tree is hidden off to the side of the trail early on in the journey.
The Octopus Tree is hidden off to the side of the trail early on in the journey.
Raised bridges and a few drops are well signposted on the side of the first part of the track offering extra challenges for advanced riders who aren’t afraid of heights.
Raised bridges and a few drops are well signposted on the side of the first part of the track offering extra challenges for advanced riders who aren’t afraid of heights.

Bicknell-Nth Sth-13

It was here that were blown away with how many locals we met enjoying the trail as part of their day. The sun was out after a wet couple of months and the quick draining trails were almost dry. It was such a lift to see so many people outside on bikes making the most of the afternoon. A few lycra-clad warriors were riding in the South-North direction but they were less keen to stop and chat.

The half way point, time wise (the first section of the trail has some climbing), is marked by a cabin where you can take a moment to sit and refill your bottle. You can give your arms a rest if you’ve been clenching the bars too tight or are out of practice riding sustained singletrack descents.

Junction Cabin is a friendly place for a break.
Junction Cabin is a friendly place for a break.

The other side of Junction Cabin was built later on in the project under contract by many skilled trail workers. This included Dave Mason from Mountain Trails who built a lot of the singletrack for the Hellfire Cup. The Eucalypt bush is drier here and the grainy singletrack heads almost completely downhill.

It was here that I could feel my calves start to twinge from spending so long standing on the pedals, the only indicator of how long we’d been riding. Time felt frozen for the rest of the experience on the trail.

We started to cross over fire trails and other paths that signalled possibilities for extending the ride into a longer or different loop. We snaked our way left down big, grainy berms all the way to the Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park.

Glenorchy Mountain Bike park. Practice your skills, extend the ride, or call for a lift back up the hill.

Glenorchy Mountain Bike park. Practice your skills, extend the ride, or call for a lift back up the hill.
Glenorchy Mountain Bike park. Practice your skills, extend the ride, or call for a lift back up the hill.

Despite the high profile races that have taken place here, the park was almost a let down in comparison to the journey we’d just been on. The rutted trails and weedy landscape a stark contrast to the impeccably maintained singletrack we’d traversed for the last 10 kilometres.

In contrast to the social experience of the North-South Track, there wasn’t a person in sight save a couple of dirt jumpers enjoying the sinking afternoon sun.

What blew us away most about this journey is that this is a trail that brings riders of all types to jump on their bike and experience a place. You can loop it up on your own, or get dropped off at the start and collected again down the bottom.

A lot of money and infrastructure is being invested into mountain biking throughout the country for economic growth, primarily through tourism, in regional towns.  The North-South Track certainly attracts a lot of holidaymakers to experience its thrills.

Bicknell-Nth Sth-18

But perhaps even better than that, and what struck us most about the North-South Track, is that it adds so much quality of life experienced in a capital city. Imagine if a trail like this was around the corner from your place.