In only a few years, Derby has become a thriving mountain biking destination with some of the worlds best riding. We went to the Australian MTB Summit to find out what makes this place tick.
It’s not just about the trails
Both Watson and Jacobs attribute a large portion of the success of Derby to the quality of the trail, and the World Trail founder is extremely proud of what he and his crew built. But neither discount what has happened in the town to the success of Derby. After only four years, there are multiple shuttle companies, each offering a range of experiences beyond just a lift up the hill, two bike shops, high-end cafes and accommodation and even a brand new bakery.
“There was an old bloke that said, bah humbug and everything when we started on the trails, but he loves this place now because his family is staying here and they aren’t moving away. The old folks that also live up here, their kids are living here and they can find work here,” Jacobs says.
You hear a lot of comparisons between Derby and Whistler — we've even made one here. But one key factor separates Derby from Whistler, or Rotorua or any other mountain biking destination on the map
"The decisions about infrastructure have all been made around cycling," says Shimano Australia Brand Manager Toby Shingleton, who is soon to open new accommodation here in town called The River Cabins.
"Everyone's here for the same reason. It's like going to a good party where everyone is just there to have a good time. It not like being at a party where there is a sleazy guy trying to pick up, and there are a few hangers-on. Everyone going to the party is here to ride, and there's nowhere like that in the world."
Rey, whose career has taken him around the world echos a similar sentiment, "If you could ever call a place a true mountain biking town, it’s this (Derby). There was really nothing else going on, and now it's this.”
With the success of the Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails other towns around Tasmania are taking note. Less than an hours drive to the coast, you have St. Helens. Already a tourist destination, the town is opening a new trail network, a feature of which is the Peak to Sea trail which allows riders to descend 44km from the top of Blue Tier all the way down to Swimcart Beach.
On the other side of Tassie, there is Maydena, a newly established gravity destination, and trail networks are popping up on the west coast of the island.
“There's just been a new trail opened a fortnight ago called Oonah Hill. That is the first in a series of planned tracks around the Queenstown region throughout the West Coast.” Tom Wotton, CEO of regional tourism organisaiotn West by North West, tells us.
Tasmania is often looked at as this remote and rugged far away land, and it can seem that way when you’re trying to get down there. The rugged beauty of the place is being showcased by clever trail builders using mountain bikes to breathe new life into the communities. For mountain bikers across the board, there seems to be an immediate connection to this place and the small island is quickly becoming one of the best places to ride mountain bikes.