Creswick Trails Project community meeting planned

Momentum: Hepburn Shire's Creswick Trails Project construction manager Mick McCallum and rider Dr Mick Veal in bushland near Creswick. Picture: Brendan McCarthy
Momentum: Hepburn Shire's Creswick Trails Project construction manager Mick McCallum and rider Dr Mick Veal in bushland near Creswick. Picture: Brendan McCarthy

The push to build a world-class network of mountain bike trails in the wilderness around Creswick is continuing, with a community meeting and information session planned for Wednesday evening.

The meeting, which begins at 6pm at the Creswick Town Hall, will discuss the current stage of the Creswick Trails Project - right now, various departments, landholders, Indigenous groups, and experts are reviewing plans from the Common Ground Trails team.

While it's expected construction on the approved plan will not begin until early 2020 at the earliest, Creswick mountain bike enthusiasts are already looking forward to what they say will be massive benefits for the entire town.

The trailhead is unique as it is a short ride from the train station and the middle of town at Hammon Park, encouraging day-trippers from Ballarat and Melbourne, and there are connections on the existing Goldfields Track to Bendigo.

The potential to not only attract new business and possibly international events but also highlight Creswick's natural and gold rush history is driving the project, according to mountain bike enthusiast Dr Michael Veal.

"It's an economic development project more than sports or anything else because of the enormous benefits involved," he said.

"We had national championships here, we've got the ability and infrastructure to stage these events - it's got support from all levels of government, all the way from state member to Regional Development Victoria, this is a project they've been pushing for six or seven years."

Another social rider, Paul Williams, said he had noticed people heading to his business in Creswick because of the existing trails.

"It's enough to tell you there is a strong following to have these trails," he said.

"It'll be great for the younger generation, for sure, and already we've noticed the pump track has an effect on the youth getting active.

"I just hope that whatever comes out of it, it's something everything can agree too."

Riders at this year's Brackenbury Mountain Bike Challenge. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Riders at this year's Brackenbury Mountain Bike Challenge. Picture: Lachlan Bence

The current plan includes a network of more than 100 kilometres of riding, running, and walking trails connecting to the RACV Resort, Hammon Park, and other cycling infrastructure, while also protecting natural and historical elements.

The trails are expected to be of varying levels of difficulty, providing a challenge to beginners and veterans alike, and there will be trails designed to support use by adaptive mountain bikers

Adaptive cycling is a branch of the sport involving bikes which are modified or designed for people who are unable to ride traditional upright bikes.

Hepburn Shire mayor Don Henderson is a long-time supporter of the plan.

He said in a statement the project will "put Creswick on the map".

"The 100 kilometres of trail will feature a range of extraordinary native bush and unique landscapes," he said.

"It will also showcase the shire's cultural attractions and support local businesses and tourism. It is intended to enhance and protect the historical gold mining areas and will assist in the World Heritage listing of our goldfields.

Michael Herley on the course at this year's Brackenbury Mountain Bike Challenge. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Michael Herley on the course at this year's Brackenbury Mountain Bike Challenge. Picture: Lachlan Bence

"The bike tracks will hopefully restrict illegal motorbikes and four wheel drivers who are currently wrecking some areas."

That's something designer Deon Baker, from Western Australia's Common Ground Trails, is keeping in mind - he added he's "stoked" to be working on the project.

"The mining-altered landscape provides an opportunity to build a network of unique and iconic mountain bike trails," he said.

"Mountain biking in Creswick will be a dynamic exploration and celebration of a history written into the Earth 150-plus years ago."

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This story Putting Creswick on the map: Community meeting for trail project first appeared on The Courier.