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Plan to push Whitsundays into premier biking destination

By Ray White Whitsunday

A WHITSUNDAY mountain bike rider has described plans for new mountain bike riding trails across the Whitsundays as “Airlie Beach changing material”.

Whitsunday Regional Council, in collaboration with Mackay and Isaac councils, is in the process of exploring a Whitsunday Mountain Bike Trails program as part of the region’s COVID recovery.

The trails would span the whole Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region with individual tracks in each area.

In the Whitsundays, this would include potential tracks on South Molle Island, in Conway National Park and around Peter Faust Dam.

The project would include various tracks to suit all different skill levels as well as the potential to host mountain biking races and competitions.

Dylan Ford, who has been riding in the Whitsundays for five years, said the trails project would be “huge” and position the town as a premier mountain biking destination.

“It would put Airlie Beach on the map as a place to go mountain biking not only in Australia, but in the southern hemisphere,” he said.

Whitsunday mountain bike riders on the track at the Big4 Airlie Cove Resort & Caravan Park. Photo Inge Hansen / Whitsunday Times.

Mr Ford said mountain biking was one of the fastest growing sports in the world and had gained even more momentum since coronavirus.

“Pre-COVID there was probably 20 or 30 regular riders at Mt Rooper and Honeyeater,” he said.

“But since COVID you’ll come across a mum on her electric bike with her kids behind her or a dad out riding with the kids.”

The Great Whitsunday Walk and Mt Rooper are the main tracks available to mountain bike riders in the Whitsundays.

Last month, Mackay Regional Council also revealed it was moving forward in its negotiation with Mackay Sugar to acquire part of the old Cattle Creek Mill to build the Eungella-Finch Hatton Mountain Bike Park project.

Mr Ford said the region’s scenery would make it a strong draw for riders from across the state and potentially around the world.

Beyond benefits for riders, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the mountain bike trails project would draw in more money for the whole region.

“It’s good for our economy, not just the tourism sector,” he said.

“It’d be nice to open up a new shop that sold these mountain bikes and serviced them.

“There’s also construction jobs and the maintenance of the tracks, and I imagine if we had different events, we would construct different things to make sure there was the right level of difficulty for that event.

“There’s some really good opportunities and it gives us another land-based attraction.”

Cr Willcox said the council would seek funding from state and federal governments for the trails project and hoped to see something in the works by 2022.

“We’re the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays is very famous for the 74 beautiful islands, but if we can be the attraction for the sea and work on some good land-based activities, I think that’s a really good string to our bow,” he said.

Source: Whitsunday Times

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