Ride High Country: Mt Beauty, Victoria

These trails have been cranking for over 30 years, and there’s more singletrack appearing every year. We always get a buzz out of this spot, and we hope you do too!

Mt Beauty is one of Australia’s original mountain bike towns, the trails have been here since the 1980s… which is why team Flow donned some genuinely vintage mountain bike jerseys for the occasion.

Mt Beauty’s very own World Champ, Paul Van Der Ploeg, was on hand to lead us into the wild trails of Beauty.

The trails of Beauty are the anti-flow-trail; 100% tech! These are old school, hand built single tracks, and you need to be committed and alert to ride them well. You can see why this place breeds some exceptional riders.
Mt Beauty, like most of these great High Country towns, has its own brewery – the Sweetwater Brewing Company is right in town, about 500m from the trails. Drop on in for a tasting.

Got a spare half hour to start planning a get away? Watch our ultimate Victorian High Country MTB Road Trip video here where we spent a week riding seven of Victoria’s best mountain biking destinations.

Local Video: Shredding the Vic Alps, with Blue Dirt and Specialized

Late November in the Victorian High Country; the snow has almost all melted and the mountain bike trails have been primed for the summer season. Riders David McMillan, Ryan De La Rue & Tom Anderson hit the highway with Blue Dirt Mountain Biking and Specialized Bicycles on a road trip to three of the best mountain biking destinations in Victoria: Falls Creek, Bright & Mt Buller.

These three destinations should be on every mountain bikers hit list. On board the latest 2018 Specialized Enduro and Stumpjumpers with the help from Blue Dirt’s shuttle service, see what all the fuss is about!


Join Specialized Australia riders Dave MacMillan, Ryan De La Rue and Tom Anderson for some loose riding at Falls Creek, Bright and Mt Buller, three of the primo destinations where Blue Dirt offer their uplift services.

Heading to the top of Mt Mackay above Falls Creek, the highest public road in Australia.
Falls Creek chills.
Diving into the pines of Bright.
Morning light on Falls Creek.
Mt Mystic, Bright.
Should’ve zigged when I zagged.
The Victorian Alps are just a stunning place to be.
Buller summit sunsets.
Top of the world.


Video Feature: Ride High Country, The Mountain Bike Road Trip

Grab a coffee, or perhaps an ale (as that’s certainly the theme here), and settle in to watch the full Ride High Country Road Trip


There’s a lot to explore in the Victorian High Country, and so we put our minds to pulling together the road trip to end all road trips. All killer, no filler – seven destinations, each worthy of a riding holiday in its own right, all packed into a week to remember. And so off we went.

The destinations we’d mapped out for our Ride High Country road trip all lie in a pretty tight little cluster in the north-east of Victoria, and our plan was to tackle it from east to west: Falls Creek, Mt Beauty, Bright, Dinner Plain, Beechworth, Yackandandah and finally Mt Buller to wrap it up.

Have a gander below for some of our favourite moments on the Ride High Country Road Trip, and make sure you click the links through to each destination’s own editorial piece to learn more.


Falls Creek

Click here for our full Falls Creek editorial and video. 


This is what Falls Creek does best: incredible vistas. You spend a lot of time riding above the tree line, giving you views forever.
This is what Falls Creek does best: incredible vistas. You spend a lot of time riding above the tree line, giving you views forever.
Hooking into the eerie snow gums on High Voltage, on of the star trails at Falls Creek.
Hooking into the eerie snow gums on High Voltage, one of the star trails at Falls Creek.
Flow Town is the newest addition to Falls Creek, and this trail alone makes it worth the trip. Blasting into the perfect lower berms. From the end of the trail, you can jump on board the shuttle right up to the peak of the mountain and do it all again.
Flow Town is the newest addition to Falls Creek, and this trail alone makes it worth the trip. Blasting into the perfect lower berms. From the end of the trail, you can jump on board the shuttle service run by Blue Dirt Mountain Biking right up to the peak of the mountain and do it all again.

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When the rain came down too hard in Falls Creek, we retreated to the spa at QT.
When the rain came down too hard in Falls Creek, we retreated to the spa at QT.
A fine way to end the day on the trails at Falls.
A fine way to end the day on the trails at Falls.

Mt Beauty

Click here for our full Mt Beauty editorial and video

That iconic Mt Beauty view, looking north up the Kiewa Valley.
That iconic Mt Beauty view, looking north up the Kiewa Valley.
Mt Beauty's very own World Champ, Paul Van Der Ploeg, was on hand to lead us into the wild trails of Beauty.
Mt Beauty’s very own World Champ, Paul Van Der Ploeg, was on hand to lead us into the wild trails of Beauty.
The trails of Beauty are the anti-flow-trail; 100% tech! These are old school, hand built single tracks, and you need to be committed and alert to ride them well. You can see why this place breeds some exceptional riders.
The trails of Beauty are the anti-flow-trail; 100% tech! These are old school, hand built single tracks, and you need to be committed and alert to ride them well. You can see why this place breeds some exceptional riders.
Rocky, loose, unforgiving! If you're having a bad day on Mt Beauty's trails, you're going to have a lie down or two. But when you're riding well, these trails make you feel like a ninja!
Rocky, loose, unforgiving! If you’re having a bad day on Mt Beauty’s trails, you’re going to have a lie down or two. But when you’re riding well, these trails make you feel like a ninja!
Mt Beauty is one of Australia's original mountain bike towns, the trails have been here since the 1980s... which is why team Flow donned some genuinely vintage mountain bike jerseys for the occasion.
Mt Beauty is one of Australia’s original mountain bike towns, the trails have been here since the 1980s… which is why team Flow donned some genuinely vintage mountain bike jerseys for the occasion.
Dragon's Head is one of the Big Hill MTB Park's newest trails - you won't find it on the map, it's too fresh. It's one of the trickiest trails around, but such a buzz to ride.
Dragon’s Head is one of the Big Hill MTB Park’s newest trails – you won’t find it on the map, it’s too fresh. It’s one of the trickiest trails around, but such a buzz to ride.
Lots of body language here in Beauty!
Lots of body language here in Beauty!
Mt Beauty, like most of these great High Country towns, has its own brewery - the Sweetwater Brewing Company is right in town, about 500m from the trails. Drop on in for a tasting.
Mt Beauty, like most of these great High Country towns, has its own brewery – the Sweetwater Brewing Company is right in town, about 500m from the trails. Drop on in for a tasting.
And right across the road from the brewery, you'll find the Rocky Valley Bike Cafe. Good smoothies!
And right across the road from the brewery, you’ll find the Rocky Valley Bike Cafe. Good smoothies!

Bright

Click here for our full Bright editorial and video.

Hello Bright! This town is home to one of Australia's most progressive new trails, the aptly named Hero Trail. It's a monster, and you've got to come check it out.
Hello Bright! This town is home to one of Australia’s most progressive new trails, the aptly named Hero Trail. It’s a monster, and you’ve got to come check it out.
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Lofting into the opening straight of the Hero Trail.
It should be no surprise that Bright is producing some crazy talented riders. Kaia Ellis is one of them, definitely one of the next generation of Aussie mountain bike super stars. He lives at the base of Mt Mystic and rides here everyday.
It should be no surprise that Bright is producing some crazy talented riders. Kaia Ellis is one of them. This kid is definitely one of the next generation of Aussie mountain bike super stars. He lives at the base of Mt Mystic and rides here everyday, shuttled by his dedicated (and fast) dad, Pete.
You can shuttle Mt Mystic, or there are climbing tracks too, if you'd rather earn your turns.
You can shuttle Mt Mystic, or there are climbing tracks too, if you’d rather earn your turns.
Bright Brewery is a real focal point for the town, and they're all mountain bike mad too. With a huge beer garden on the river, it's the ultimate place to wind up your day.
Bright Brewery is a real focal point for the town, and they’re all mountain bike mad too. With a huge beer garden on the river, it’s the ultimate place to wind up your day.
Bright isn't all about the Hero Trail. There's a huge network to ride on the mountain's lower slopes too, with perfect corners like this.
Bright isn’t all about the Hero Trail. There’s a huge network to ride on the mountain’s lower slopes too, with perfect corners like this.
Kaia Ellis, Phil Roubichard and Aaron Gungal.
Kaia Ellis, Phil Roubichard and Aaron Gungal.
Phil from All Terrain Cycles. Always stoked.
Phil from All Terrain Cycles. Always stoked.

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Dinner Plain

Click here for our full Dinner Plain editorial and video.

Dinner Plain is on the cusp of a mountain bike explosion. The setting is superb, and the bones of a great trail network are already in place. Big things are coming here.
Dinner Plain is on the cusp of a mountain bike explosion. The setting is superb, and the bones of a great trail network are already in place. Big things are coming here.
Local guur Karl Gray, of the DP Riders, leads us down Kenny's.
Local guru Karl Gray, of the DP Riders, leads us down Kenny’s in some perfect alpine light.
Golden alpine meadows. Take us back!
Golden alpine meadows. Take us back!
A setting to die for. Dinner Plain is extraordinarily beautiful.
A setting to die for. Dinner Plain is extraordinarily beautiful.
The Blizzard Brewing Co calls Dinner Plain home. Yes, another mountain bike town with a brewery. You couldn't make this stuff up.
The Blizzard Brewing Co calls Dinner Plain home. Yes, another mountain bike town with a brewery. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Dinner Plain's bike rack is heavy duty.
Dinner Plain’s bike rack is heavy duty. How cool is that?!
Another golden day in the bag.
Another golden day in the bag.
Good night, Dinner Plain. See you again soon, we hope.
Good night, Dinner Plain. See you again soon, we hope.

Beechworth

For our full Beechworth editorial and video click here.

Beechworth is classic Australiana at its best.
Beechworth is classic Australiana at its best. This is bush ranger country.
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Evening razzing in the Beechworth MTB Park, just a couple of minutes from town.
Blowing out the cobwebs, and some corners, in Beechworth.
Blowing out the cobwebs, and some corners, in Beechworth.
We love the unique, rocky terrain of Beechworth.
We love the unique, rocky terrain of Beechworth.
The Don't Be a Hero Trail is a new addition in Beechworth.
The Don’t Be a Hero Trail is a new addition in Beechworth.
Away from the mountain bike park, there are loads of other trails to discover. Grab a local to unearth some gold.
Away from the mountain bike park, there are loads of other trails to discover. Grab a local to unearth some gold.
Ben Kraus, head honch of the famous Bridge Rd Brewers.
Ben Kraus, head honch of the famous Bridge Rd Brewers.

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Lock him up.
Standard Beechworth first date.

Yackandandah

For our full Yackandandah editorial and video click here.

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Yackandandah is all smooth, perfect singletrack. The kind that makes you smile.
Dropping into Skull, one of the most unique tracks in Yack.
Dropping into Skull, one of the most unique tracks in Yack.

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The Yack Tracks have some of the best signing we've ever encountered, with all the loops mapped out perfectly.
The Yack Tracks have some of the best signing we’ve ever encountered, with all the loops mapped out perfectly.
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Getting comfy at the Star Hotel.

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We loved the crew we met in Yack. Some of the most diverse and friendly folk we've had the pleasure of riding with.
We loved the crew we met in Yack. Some of the most diverse and friendly folk we’ve had the pleasure of riding with.

Mt Buller

For our full Mt Buller editorial and video, click here.

Mt Buller, last stop for us.
Mt Buller, last stop for us.
Glorious Mt Buller.
Glorious Mt Buller evenings.
Shannon Rademaker of All Terrain Cycles. Solid bloke, and a very solid rider too.
Shannon Rademaker of All Terrain Cycles. Solid bloke, and a very solid rider too.
Shannon on the charge in perfect conditions on Misty Twist.
Shannon on the charge in perfect conditions on Misty Twist.
We couldn't quite believe how good we got it in Buller. Unreal!
We couldn’t quite believe how good we got it in Buller. Unreal!

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The iconic bridges of the Delatite River Trail.
The iconic bridges of the Delatite River Trail.

Ride High Country: Dinner Plain

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Above it all.

We knew little of Dinner Plain before making the snaking drive up from Bright, and what a drive it is too, this would have to be one of the best roads in Australia, with the valleys tumbling away either side and views that go forever. The village of Dinner Plain lies just beyond Hotham, and waiting for in town was Karl Gray, head of the Dinner Plain Riders, and a DP local.

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This road was good enough to make us consider coming back with our road bikes.
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Check out the work involved in the Dinner Plain bike rack!

Karl knows he lives in a good patch: the region around Dinner Plain is eye poppingly scenic, and he rolls about 10 metres from his front door into the trails. That’s the beauty of Dinner Plain – you don’t ride to the trails, you’re in them already, they encircle the village.

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Following Karl down Kenny’s.

As we pulled into a trail called Kenny’s, savouring that kind of spectacular afternoon light that bleeds through the snow gums in such an unmistakable way, we learnt more about what’s on the cards for Dinner Plain. There’s already a solid handful of quality trails here, many of which evolved from tracks used by the local cattlemen, but the masterplan for the village is far more ambitious, with over 20km of singletrack in the pipeline. The terrain is classic Alpine, a dreamy mix of grass meadows, gnarled gums and granite, the air so clean it seems to shine.

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Popping through the high alpine grasses.
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That alpine light! Love it.

All the other key ingredients are in place already too, accommodation, restaurants and, importantly, Australia’s highest altitude brewery, the Blizzard Brewing Company, where we headed for a post-ride ale. They say the water they use in their brewing comes from pristine snow melt aquifers; maybe it was just the fact that we’d wrapped up another perfect day on the trails in paradise, but it sure tasted good.

Mick was quite fond of Blizzard Brewing Co's work.
Mick was quite fond of Blizzard Brewing Co’s work.

We’re looking forward to following the journey of Dinner Plain over the next couple of years, as we’ve got no doubt this place can cement itself a reputation as a hidden gem of Australian mountain biking. Something tells us we’ll be spending a lot more time here before too long!

For more information of Dinner Plain, or the riding across the entire Victorian High Country, head to ridehighcountry.com.au.

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Ride High Country: Beechworth

Watch the video below! 


This is a town that oozes charm and history, a mix of quaint and quirky, with wide streets, shady verandahs, smiling old ducks at the bakery. It welcomes you, like a favourite wooden jumper, a comfy, relaxed fit. It’s a feeling we’ve always had here, a genuine warmth, and it’s not just the pastie we’re eating, fresh from Beechworth Bakery pie oven.

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Big granite outcrops are a standout feature of the Beechworth trails.

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DSC01344The local crew, the legendary Beechworth Chain Gang, extend the same vibe. Out of towners are always welcome to join the Wednesday night social ride, localism isn’t their bag. Even the location of the trails makes life simple; the Beechworth Mountain Bike Park is only a few minutes ride from the centre of town, and it’s all mapped and signposted for visiting riders to enjoy.

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You can roll out to the trail head from town, it’s just a few minutes’ pedal.
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The new Don’t Be a Hero Trail brings a new flavour to Beechworth trails.

It’s a total noodle bowl of singletrack in the Bike Park, a smallish space, heaped with trails, all of it loads of fun. The trail builders have worked with terrain brilliantly, using the rocky granite outcrops to create rhythm and challenge, and the surface is fast and perfectly drifty at the same time. New trails are springing up too, including the cheekily named ‘Don’t Be a Hero Trail’ – a funny nod to the Hero Trail in Bright, as well as a good-natured dig at the trail builder who broke themselves on the trail not long after finishing its construction!

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Dust, sun and a good crew. Spot on!
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The landscape surrounding Beechworth is Australiana overdrive. This is bush ranger country!

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Away from the bike park, there are plenty of less publicised trails too, which might require some local knowledge to unearth. The best place to acquire said knowledge? At the brewery of course! Bridge Rd Brewers lies right at the heart of town, and not only do they produce superb beer and cater for hungry riders, but head brewer Ben Kraus froths harder than a shaken pilsner for mountain biking.

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All brewed in Beechworth, Bridge Rd is a must see, even if you’re not a drinker. It’s got a great vibe.

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Yackandandah’s new trails are just down the road too, and the locals have a dream to see these two great networks linked up with trails through the great swathes of forest between the towns. It’s a vision we’d love to see realised one day; both of these towns really grab us, and the thought of being able to ride on the dirt between the two is too good!

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Negotiating with some rocks in the bike park.

Beechworth really is a must-do on any road trip through this region, whether you’ve got bikes or not. We guarantee you’ll be charmed, and you’ll keep coming back, just like we do. For more information about riding in Beechworth, or across the whole region, head to ridehighcountry.com.au. 

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The Woolshed DH is one of the less official trails in the area. Seek it out!

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It’s not all beer – cold brew Nitro Coffee will get tired legs hammering once again!
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Chasing mates through dusty berms.

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Beechworth Prison is where Ned Kelly was held after being nabbed at Glenrowan.
Beechworth Prison is where Ned Kelly was held after being nabbed at Glenrowan.
"You're under arrest for wearing two paris of sunnies."
“You’re under arrest for wearing two pairs of sunnies.”
The new Kelly helmet with MIPS technology, made in Beechworth.
The new Kelly helmet with MIPS technology, made in Beechworth.
The Woolshed Cabins are run by passionate club member Chris Doe - highly recommended.
The Woolshed Cabins are run by passionate club member Chris Doe – highly recommended.

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Ride High Country: Yackandandah

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No stress, all smiles. Yack is mountain biking at its relaxing finest.

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This passionate community has paid close attention to the important elements that have made some of the other towns in the region such successful mountain bike destinations, and then found their own niche in the landscape. They’ve absolutely nailed it too.

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Some of the biggest Yack Tracks fans we’ve met have been locals from Beechworth, which lies just 15 minutes’ drive away. Given how great Beechworth’s own trails are, that praise put Yack right on top of the pile for us to visit during our Ride High Country Road Trip.

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Mining has left some interesting features for the trail builders to work with, like these cool old chutes on ‘Skulls’.
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Classic riding like this will never grow old.

Yackandandah brings a much needed pure cross-country experience to the Victorian High Country. The riding here is gloriously simple, you don’t need a shuttle, you don’t need a map, you don’t need to psych yourself up, or even be that fit. These are trails built for the pure enjoyment of it all, not for scaring yourself or finding your limits. You can lose yourself (metaphorically -the signage is too good to get genuinely lost) for a few hours; just you and the bike in the bush, with seemingly never-ending, flowing cross-country singletrack. It’s really interesting terrain too, especially in the areas where mining has re-shaped the landscape, with deep gullies, old water races, and caves gouged into the clay.

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The crew in Yack have got to be some of the most easy-going folk out there, and in mountain biking that’s saying something.

Are the trails tame? Not when you start riding them fast, they’re not. But they won’t intimidate a newer rider either, and we think that’s going to be real drawcard for this town. Experienced riders can bring someone who is fresh to the sport out to Yack, and both are going to love it. The growth of mountain biking depends vitally on trails like this, and we feel that the High Country is going to benefit greatly from having such a welcoming addition for new mountain bikers. It’s the kind of town and trails that can make someone fall in love with mountain biking.

That diversity of riders who can enjoy trails like the Yack Tracks was on full display amongst the crew of locals who came out to show us around the forest. A mixed bunch – men and women, young and not-so-young, some who were new to it all, and others who’d been mountain biking for 20 years or more – they welcomed us with open arms, and after a loop it was back to the Star Hotel for a drink and a chat.

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Top notch way-finding.

As a visitor, it just doesn’t get any easier than the experience offered by Yack – it’s real rock up and ride stuff for out-of-towners. In the car park you’ll find a brilliant map board, with four recommended loops mapped out. All the information is there, from distances to elevation profiles and estimated times. There’s no poking through Strava or phoning a local to beg directions, you simply pick the loops that match the experience you’re after, then follow the arrows. It’s some of the best trail marking we’ve ever encountered, and the effort that has been put into perfecting the navigation can make all the difference between an incredible day on the trails, or a world of confusion.

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We’re very excited that a region like this, already heaving with great riding, can suddenly have an entirely new, and totally unique, option for mountain bikers. Yack is a real feather in the cap of the Victorian High Country, and a spot that is going to play a big role in ensuring a stream of fresh riders find their feet in the sport. We’ll be back, and we’ll be bringing a few potential mountain converts with us too. We’re sure that Yack will woo them nicely.

For more information about riding Yackandandah, or across the whole region, head to www.ridehighcountry.com.au

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Meanwhile, back at the Star Hotel.
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James Lacey, head of the Yackandandah Old Blokes Biking on Sundays (YOBBOS).
Now that was a good day on the trails.
Now that was a good day on the trails.

 

Ride High Country: Mt Beauty

Looking back over Mt Beauty from Tawonga Gap.
Looking back over Mt Beauty from Tawonga Gap.

Why does this town grab us? Maybe it’s the nostalgia, maybe it’s the setting, maybe it’s the company? Or maybe it’s that Mt Beauty continues to fly in the face of the gentrification of mountain bike trails. Mt Beauty’s trail builders cling proudly to a gritty, raw and downright challenging style of construction, the polar opposite of the groomed predictability that typifies a lot of new trail development. These trails are scratched into the slopes with hand tools, you won’t find any 900mm-wide excavator shaped contours here!

Lining up to thread another challenging descending switchback on The Kraken.
Lining up to thread another challenging descending switchback on The Kraken.

Mt Beauty’s trail builders cling proudly to a gritty, raw and downright challenging style of construction

Dragon's Head. Get ready for some tech!
Dragon’s Head. Get ready for some tech!

“It’s us versus technology,” cackled Bernie McArdle, the notoriously prolific Mt Beauty trail builder, when we asked him about his philosophies. The way Bernie sees it, as bikes get better, trails must get tougher, an equal and opposite reaction that ensures mountain biking never gets too easy. And if staving off boredom is Bernie’s aim, then he’s sure succeeding; getting in a rhythm here takes concentration and commitment. The benches are narrow, the trees often tight, the rocks always pointy.

Plenty of body language on Dragon's Head.
Plenty of body language on Dragon’s Head.

It’s us versus technology.

On our Ride High Country road trip, we met up with one of Mt Beauty’s loudest ambassadors, the irrepressible Paul Van Der Ploeg, for a tour of some of Big Hill’s newest trails. Yes, they’re still building up there, and somehow new nooks and crannies of this landscape continue to be discovered and threaded with fresh singletrack. The trails he had lined up for us were Dragon’s Head and Dragon’s Trail, two recent McArdle creations. Riding these trails is a complex negotiation, a constant balancing act of traction and momentum, played out with plenty of body language. On a bad day, they’ll reduce you to buckled frustration, swearing off mountain biking forever. On a good day, you’re hooting and yelling, eyes like saucers, as you thread the needle, you’re Nino Schuster and Sam Hill rolled into one.

Momentum is your friend!
Momentum is your friend!
New map boards, plus signposted loops, has made navigating Mt Beauty a lot less challenging for visiting riders.
New map boards, plus signposted loops, has made navigating Mt Beauty a lot less challenging for visiting riders.

For visiting riders, Mt Beauty’s complex network is now a little less mystifying than it once was, thanks to the recent addition of signposted loops. Choose your colour, follow the arrows. Unless you’ve snagged a local guide, this is the best way to experience what Mt Beauty’s trails are about. Along the way you’ll see countless off-shoots snaking off into the trees – there’s so much trail here, even the locals get tangled up, so we’d suggest sticking to the recommended loops if you don’t have your compass handy.

Vandy surveys his domain.
Vandy surveys his domain.
Old school jerseys for an old school destination, with one of Mt Beauty's bakery treats sternum-mounted for easy on trail nutrition.
Old school jerseys for an old school destination, with one of Mt Beauty’s bakery treats sternum-mounted for easy on trail nutrition.

After your ride, a casual roll down the hill into town will lead you to Mt Beauty’s famed bakery, or cruise on out to the recently opened Rocky Valley Bikes cafe, which is conveniently located directly across the road from the Sweetwater Brewing Company! From a regional perspective, Mt Beauty makes a great launching point for a high country road trip. It sits right at the crux of the eastern High Country’s mountain bike scene; it’s only 30 minutes up the hill to Falls Creek, or jump over Tawonga Gap to Bright.

Rocky Valley Bikes have just opened a great cafe. Pop by!
Rocky Valley Bikes have just opened a great cafe. Pop by!

For the full low-down on Mt Beauty, or riding right across North-East Victoria, head to www.ridehighcountry.com.au.

Ride High Country: Falls Creek

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Dropping into High Voltage from Frying Pan Spur feels like you’re plummeting off the edge of the mountain into the Kiewa Valley below.

Falls Creek specialises in the spectacular: of all the mountain biking destinations slung across this region, it’s Falls that always drops our jaw. There’s something incredible about its location, with the Keiwa Valley funnelling up to meet it, Falls sits like the gate keeper to the alpine plains. The drama of the whole scene is enhanced by the gnarled, skeletal fingers of white snow gums, which frame the trails and give the distant slopes a grey shimmer.

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Ghostly snow gums make a dramatic backdrop on the higher trails.

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But of course you don’t come to Falls Creek for the views alone, you come to enjoy one of the finest mountain bike trail networks in Australia! The rise of Falls Creek in the mountain bike world has been meteoric. It was barely four years ago that the initial humble scratchings of trail building began, but now, with four stages of trail development completed, there’s over 40km of sensational trail to explore, and that’s before you even contemplate the endless backcountry riding that can be done from Falls. When you consider that this place is under snow for a good chunk of the year, it’s an incredible undertaking to have built such a great network in that time frame.

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You can just see the alignment of the road running back down to Mt Beauty far below. Flow Town follows the same contour, for a perfect, fast run to the village entrance gates six kays away.

With the opening of Flow Town just a few weeks ago, we feel that Falls Creek has now really nailed its potential. This epic descending trail is one of the best rides in the entire region, and once you tie it into a loop with some of the existing runs, it becomes a run for the ages – 20 minutes of nearly non-stop downhill shredding. For this run alone, Falls Creek was always going to be a stop on our Ride High Country road trip.

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Berm blasting in the gums on the lower sections of Flow Town.
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Multiple lines options on Flow Town.

Amongst the best aspects of mountain biking in Falls Creek is that the trails all start and finish right in the village, so you can literally roll out your accommodation and be into the thick of it in seconds. This is especially true of Flow Town, which descends from straight from town, ending up at the resort gates after six kilometres of insanely good trail. From there, you can pedal back up the Pack Horse trail, or better yet, jump in a shuttle service provided by Blue Dirt, which is exactly what we did.

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Pete Walsh of Blue Dirt – shuttle driver and all-round good bloke.
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The bike wash is a recent addition, along with a communal work stand and tools. Falls Creek aren’t cutting corners when it comes to making mountain bikers feel loved!

With the shuttle running right to the peak of the resort, you’ve got the entire network splayed out beneath you, all funnelling you back to the village where a coffee, lunch or beer awaits. It’s a surprisingly buzzing scene in town too. With the opening of the Blue Dirt Bike Cafe, there’s usually a good contingent of mountain bikers milling about refuelling or using the bike wash, joined by the constant trickle of roadies who’ve taken on the climb from Mt Beauty. You’re not short of places to stay or dine either; QT hotel runs all the way through summer (which is where we called home during our stay) and their restaurant, Stingray, is open all day too so you won’t be scrambling for a meal, as can sometimes happen in the green-season in resort towns!

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Perfect berms top to bottom on Flow Town.

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Also worth a mention is the development of more beginner and intermediate trails right on the edge of the village too, which opens up the appeal of Falls to rider who aren’t interested in tackling the whole mountain. We can see how this place is going to be very popular with family groups in the future with so much kid-friendly riding just moments away from the accommodation.

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Taking refuge in the spa at QT after a rain storm cut our day short on the hill. Paul Van Der Ploeg and SRAM’s Dave Evans enjoying the apres vibes!
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Doesn’t get much better! We didn’t expect to be sparking up the open fire in summer, but that’s the way it goes in the alps – the weather can change direction faster than Troy Brosnan in a switchback.

From Falls Creek, one of the newest mountain bike destinations in Victoria, it’s just a short 30-minute drive back down the mountain to one of the oldest mountain biking destinations in all of Australia, the legendary mountain biking town of Mt Beauty, for a totally different trail experience. There mustn’t be many places in Australia where you can go from riding high-alpine, machine-built flow trail after breakfast, and then be on some of the absolute original mountain bike singletracks in the country, by lunch time! It’s exactly this kind of diversity, all condensed into such a tight region, that has us so pumped on the Victorian High Country right now.

For more information about riding in Falls Creek, and across the whole region, head to http://www.ridehighcountry.com.au

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Ride High Country: Bright


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Well obviously you’d want a region that was crammed with places to ride. And plenty of diversity too, because there’s no point in riding the same style of trails for a week. And you’d want a pumping mountain bike culture too, making you feel right at home. And breweries of course, as every good ride finishes with a beer.

In short, you’d want to head to the Victorian High Country. That’s what we did, as we set out for a week of sensational experiences, on our Ride High Country Road Trip.


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You see why this place is a fave?

Our Ride High Country Ride Trip began in Bright, a town that we’re certain you’ve heard mentioned many times here on Flow. It’s a real cycling paradise, for both mountain bikers and roadies; set on the Ovens River, streets lined with oak trees, hills rising on all sides, we can hardly imagine a more perfect little town.

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Machine-built flow trail is increasingly becoming a part of the Bright network, complimenting the traditional pine forest singletrack.

Mountain biking is woven into the fabric of the place too, part of the culture in a way that we associate with towns in Canada or Colorado. Wherever you look you’ll see bikes in utes, people strutting in SPD shoes, riders fuelling up at the bakery or winding down at the brewery (which is owned and run by mountain bikers!).  It’s all set against the backdrop of Mt Mystic, home of the Mystic Mountain Bike Park.

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Aaron Gungl, wagging the tail high on the Hero Trail.
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Perfect dirt? Check. Trails right from town? Check. Brewery on the river? Check.

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The classic pine forest singletrack here has been the drawcard for a long time; technical, engaging trails, weaving across the slopes of Mt Mystic and down to the riverside. When you factor in Bright’s ultra challenging downhill and enduro trails, you can see how the flavour of Bright mountain biking has always been favoured by riders looking for somewhat ‘spicy’ experience.

But lately, the new school of trail building has come charging on in. The traditional nature of the trails is beginning to get a modern twist, with more beautifully shaped machine built trails coming online, bringing some much needed flow to the park. Of course, the ultimate symbol of this progression is the opening of the aptly named Hero Trail – an absolutely masterclass of trail building, and a monster to ride!

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The Hero Trail is completely unique in Australian mountain biking – the closest parallel this country has seen yet to experiences like Whistler’s A-Line or Dirt Merchant trails. A flow trail on steroids? Certainly, but that doesn’t come close to conveying the feeling of ripping into a berm that’s way higher than your head and which tries to tear your tyres off the rims, or the buzz of flying off lip after lip after lip at full speed. The step up is kind of like graduating from paddling in the white wash of Bondi to big wave surfing at Maui.

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The Hero Trail incorporates a smattering of built features into its flow too, like this wall ride which you can hit or just fly on by.
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One of the Hero Trails most incredible corners. Hear your tyres protest as you pull some g’s.

That’s certainly not to say that you have to be an elite level shredder to enjoy this trail. Every jump is rollable, and there are multiple lip options on most to let you move from C, to B to A-lines. And if jumping isn’t your thing, no worries, everyone can enjoy the feeling of hooking into so many perfect corners.

 

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The Bright Brewery is really the social hub and centrepiece of town, and they’re all 100% mad for mountain biking too, including owner Scott Brandon (centre).

To show us the ropes, it only seemed right to get some insanely talented and passionate riders involved, riders who encapsulate where things are headed for Bright: Kaia Ellis, Aaron Gungl and Phil Roubichard.

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At just 13 years old, Kaia represents the future of Australian mountain biking – living at the base of Mt Mystic, shuttling every day, he’s already in the national spotlight as a rider headed for big things. Aaron rides this trail with such ease and style you’d think it has been built to his specifications. And Phil, originally from Canada and with plenty of experience in the bike industry of North America, has seen how trails like this can transform a mountain bike scene across a region.

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Where things are headed: Kaia Ellis, Phil Roubichard, Aaron Gungl.

 

The popularity of the Hero Trail is undeniable: in the short time we loitered at the trail head, we saw at least six different groups shuttling the trail, and a good handful of riders who’d pedalled up the climbing track too. In a region that already has a huge number of iconic must-ride trails, the Hero stands proud as something truly transformative, both for individuals and for the Australian scene more broadly.

The Hero Trail stands proud as something truly transformative

We think the success of this trail in drawing a crowd demonstrates a coming of age for mountain biking in Oz. Gravity trails like this have largely been seen as a niche offering, but the Hero Trail seems to be telling a story of mainstream appeal from what we can see. It’s certainly taken Bright from a 10 to an 11 in our books!

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A lesson in style.

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