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Tassie Bikeparking

10 July 2024

Words: Robin Pieper
Photos: Robin Pieper & Will Keay

Just across the ditch and considered more synonymous with New Zealand rather than Australia, I feel like I must be the last person on earth (at least within the MTB world) to go riding in Tasmania. Multiple years of EWS racing, photoshoots and holidays by many two-wheeled enthusiasts have been encapsulated in stories of the amazing riding and history hidden within the eucalyptus and valleys of Tasmania.

A deal on a cheap rental van and flights extinguished my briefcase of excuses. Even better, only four days annual leave sandwiched between Easter and the previous weekend was required for a 10-day break. Although it did mean skidding back into the country at 2am ready to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at the desk by 8am. Oh the joys of full-time employment.


On a clear day, the views flying into Tasmania’s largest city are a taster for the fun on offer once installed with two wheels on the ground. Will and I were lucky to arrive on such a perfect day. We were treated to expansive views of rolling mountainous forest clearing to farmland, before arriving at a coastline of golden sand and clear ocean.

An initial indicator of a region’s bike-prowess is the 'airport to trail' distance factor. Hobart polls highly at just ten minutes to scamper down the motorway to the nearest trailhead. Our first bite of Tasmanian dirt was therefore destined to be at the Meehan Range. It commenced with a full singletrack climb at a mellow gradient all the way to the top – a rarity not to be taken for granted amongst riders familiar with Christchurch's Port Hills. A warm-up down the 'blue flow trail', chased by a second descent on the ‘downhill track’ truly whetted the appetite for the days to come.

After a delightful evening catching up with Will’s Aussie relatives and the BEST sleep that comes only after nearly 24 hours on the trot (the flight times from Christchurch to Hobart are not kind on the inbound traveller), we were up and back at it, itching to explore.

We attempted to navigate our way through the South Hobart ‘Sobart’ trails under the watchful eye of Trailforks. We struck it well, picking up a mix of blue flow and tech black. It had a distinct ‘Vic Park’ (in Christchurch) feel but at three times the scale, with hand-built trails and plenty of trail/line choice underneath a beautiful open-plan eucalyptus forest. We were suitably impressed by the Hobart local trail network, complete with an impressive historic brewery and seamless integration between the South Hobart suburbs and the slopes of Kunyani (Mt Wellington). A nice connection into the wilderness from your backyard.

There was PLENTY more to explore here, except Derby was calling. We played tourist at the nearby Coles supermarket, researching if Aussie food was actually cheaper than NZ (sometimes yes, sometimes no). Then took off up the Tasmania coastline in our hired LDV Deliver 9 - functional AND budget friendly. Quite a depart from my faithful Landcruiser Prado… and FAR more practical on this trip.


I have long heard stories of the world class trail network around Derby. The tiny town is roughly the same size and era as Blackball (home to the Paparoa Track) but boasts five bike shops! My Kiwi brain struggled with this, so I eagerly anticipated my first view and impressions. Well, the stories didn't lie. Blink and you’ll miss it, which would be a shame because you’d remain naive to a vast treasure of trails just off the highway.

We planned four days in Derby, aiming for plenty of time to play in the bike park but also to check out the Bay of Fires-Blue Tier Trail combo, which we’d heard was a must do.

Day one involved a bit of pedalling to get our bearings and expel the pent-up excitement from our legs. A long warm up right to the top of the bike park and mini-adventure descent via the ‘Kings Wall’ was as good an introduction as any to rock slabs, and a sign that all trails in Derby lead downhill. It was a great track to get out and get moving on whilst marvelling at the beautiful Australian bush. With that out the way, it was time to rip into ‘Cuddles’, one of Derby’s flagship trails. It features big rock slabs, wall rides and the sort of flow you can only achieve by keeping your wheels light and linking it all together. Pure grin-worthy magic.

It was then that I discovered the true reason we had left Christchurch for a settlement of 100 people in NW Tasmania: doughnuts! Derby Pitstop serves up these freshly cooked beauties to deserving bikers. Minimum order 1/2 dozen. Morning tea AND lunch sorted for that day.

The afternoon was spent on Derby’s other iconic trail ‘Trouty’, chased up with a drink and feed at the local pub. The perfect end to a perfect day one... didn’t use a vehicle, rode world-class trails, ate delicious food, plus found some time to sit in the sun, contemplate the world and enjoy a pint.

The vehicle-less portion of the trip was short lived though. The next day we were on the hunt for shuttles. Despite being mid-week and shoulder season there were plenty of options, but none seemed to match our itinerary. After the third bike shop we were about to cut our losses and head for a pedal up… when we bumped into six riders from Christchurch. Classic. This quickly snow-balled into an excellent day of shuttling. Bark Off Biking laid on a custom van, complete with one of their staff as tour guide. A happy day discovering Derby’s best trail features with new friends.

Day three and it was time to get out of town to ride the ‘Bay of Fires’. This trail stretches 42km from the Blue Tier Forest Reserve to the Bay of Fires on the coast. We were recommended to mix it up - do the first 13km on Bay of Fires, then jump onto the Blue Tier Trail. This took us to the pub in Weldborough where I sampled a ‘chicken parmi’ - an Aussie staple and my first ever.

I’ve had a lot of good days on a bike but this one takes the chicken, err cake. The trails are absolutely epic. Butter smooth flow through amazing old-growth forest. Stopping is only really necessary when the opportunities arise to admire the 360 views. We absolutely loved both trails and would put them high on our list for any mountain biker to experience. Dropping down ‘Atlas’ at the end of the day put us back in the Derby bike park. 60km of world-class singletrack was then topped off by ‘Cuddling’ the ‘Black Dragon’.

Our final day in Derby was spent pedalling back to our favourites for another lap. It’s a hard task when you have to decide if your last trail at Derby is ‘Cuddles’ or ‘Trouty’ – both of which were hot contenders for ‘EWS trail of the year’. We chose Trouty… and had a ball.

St Helens and George Town Tippagoree

Beyond the popstars of Derby and Maydena, Tasmania hosts an array of small town bike parks. Tasmanian Government funding has helped establish this extraordinary cluster of bike tourism destinations. Not every destination fitted into our precious 10 days, but we squeezed in a half day each at St Helens and Georgetown's ‘Tippagoree Hills' trails.

St Helens is a gorgeous coastal town, think Hokitika meets Kaiteriteri vibe. The bike park is slightly out of town and hosts a drier, more open eucalyptus forest with remnants of fire in its not-too-distant past. Our climb was rewarded by views of the inland mountain ranges and out to the coast. Two wedged-tailed eagles swooped over our heads. Magical.


For a small hill, this park packs a lot of punch. In what appears to be standard for Tasmanian bike parks, the climbing track is at a serene gradient through scenic Aussie bush - but if you were short on time, I’d be busting up the access road. We tried both, with multiple laps of the 200m (ish) hill, sampling a mixture of techy and flow trails. My favourite would be the aptly named ‘Devils Elbow’ - cascades of rock gardens that take a sec to find the line, with high reward. There’s just something about making a bit of rock chunder buttery smooth that hits the spot.

Off for a food and fuel restock in Launceston, we then took the scenic route to Maydena via the Great Western Tiers Conservation Area and Great Lake. I was so excited to get to Maydena, but next time I'd definitely allow time to stop, hike and explore this region. Heading south, the conservation areas gave way to Tasmania’s ‘Wild West’ of farming. Dry stations with old large homesteads set back off the road (in various states of repair), and thousands of hectares of expansive farmland punctuated by small farming service towns. On Good Friday it didn’t take much imagination to visualise tumbleweeds blowing down the main street.

Clearing the high plateau, we dropped down again into the Gordon River valley, arriving in Maydena just as the sun was setting. Perfect timing for some pademelon spotting.


By now I had learned what to typically expect from a small Tasmanian 'industry-come-trails' town. Maydena is no exception. Previously a forestry town, boasting up to four timber mills, the bike park now rises 800 metres up the valley right from town. Maydena Bike Park has transformed the old primary school (which shut down in 2012 - children now travel 20km down to the road to Westerway) into the perfect bike park hub, serving all the post-ride cuisine and beverage essentials, with the shuttle pickup and pump track only a stone's throw away.

With the 800m elevation comes three distinct zones, each with their own unique ecosystem. The top zone starts with a sub-alpine feel, hosting the scrubbier, wind-blown varieties of mountain gum. The middle band thrives In Tasmanian old-growth forest, home to the world’s tallest hardwood species - Eucalyptus regnans. It also feels a bit like home with huge tree ferns and a variety of beech, which I later found out is a deciduous species unique to the valley - Nothofagus gunnii. This was my favourite zone, with the hand-crafted tech trails giving it more of an underground trail network feel than high-volume bike park. The last zone drops back down to base and is a reminder that this is very much a gravity focused park. The forest opens out to make room for jump lines of all sizes at a consistent, no brakes, no pedals rhythm.

We had two full shuttle days. By the end of the second we were feeling the impact of the intense fun on our bodies. As is often the case when paying for day passes, we were intent on maximising every minute of opening hours. There was no stopping - a packed lunch was woofed down in the lift line. And luckily the bikes performed immaculately so there were no mechanicals to distract us from the task at hand.

The second day allowed us to repeat some trails and lines. Knowing the trails, we were able to step up the speed and commitment a notch. With a high volume of riding under my belt from the past eight days, I felt more at home on the bike than I had in a long time.

Our time in Maydena passed in a blur. Before long it was time to bike clean, pack and journey home. The return flight times allowed us an afternoon in Sydney to see the sights and experience some efficient public transport before landing back in Christchurch at midnight.

For a riding focused trip, this was a near perfect itinerary to maximise 10 days. We focused more on ‘stay and play’, rather than a ‘destination checklist’. You could easily fill the 10 days entirely differently at different riding destinations and still have a lot of fun at places like Queenstown, Zeehan, Wild Mersey, or a deeper dive in Hobart.

The Tasmanian Government has certainly seen an opportunity in sustainable tourism. The popularity of mountain bike parks has repurposed industry-expired towns with a new sense of revival, capitalising on natural values and bringing in new business. We were enthralled with the mindset and determination of the ‘positive-impact tourism’ pioneers, and of the pathways they took to get government and communities on board. It’s well worth reading more about if you’re interested.

We loved our stay. Tassie culture mixed with the diverse riding experiences made for a top holiday. I found myself as smitten with the landscape and backstories as I was with the (excellent) trails and riding. I can’t wait to go back.

3 Responses

Kevin Gallagher
Kevin Gallagher

11 July 2024

Great ride Robin. You have been responsable for adding another addition to my bucket list 🙄.

Matt Andrews
Matt Andrews

11 July 2024

The main question is, did you try a scallop pie? Tassie’s signature dish.


10 July 2024

Great write up!
It’s the kind of place where you underestimate how much time you could spend in one place!
So diverse, so beautiful.
Love Tassie!

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