By Rob Gunstone
Photos: Nick Waygood, Blue Derby Wild, Tim Bardsley-Smith, Cam Mackenzie

An increasingly heated conflict between environmentalists and loggers is playing out alongside some of the best trails Derby, Tasmania, has to offer. What happens when the competing economic forces of forestry and tourism start to play tug-of-war on the doorstep of one of the world’s best mountain bike riding destinations?

What inspires mountain bike riders to hold a trail network like Blue Derby in high regard?

For most riders it is a combination of factors from the quality and length of the network, ease of access to a variety of trail experiences, and the all-important ‘yiew’ factor that brings smiles to the faces of anyone who rides there.

It is also the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful environments in the country on our own terms.

The north-east of Tasmania, and the former mining town of Derby in particular, has embraced all of these factors over the past six years and built one of the most desirable riding destinations in the world. The international status of the Derby network has been cemented by the regular return of the Enduro World Series (EWS), and the awarding of the prestigious EWS Trail of the Year award to Detonate in 2017, followed by the Kumma-Gutza/Air-Ya-Garn run in 2019.

Many of the trail experiences in Derby are now iconic to Australian riders who travel from across the country just to spend a few days in this small part of regional Tasmania. It is not uncommon to see fully kitted out parents sharing the seat on the shuttle bus to the Black Stump carpark with their children ready to share the stoke and build family memories, or lines of young riders waiting for their turn to drop in and test their skills on the recently installed pump track at the trail head.

One experience is to stop on the trails and admire the forest surrounding the trails, with the giant tree ferns and mighty eucalypts towering overhead. These forests provide a glimpse to the wider environment past and allow riders to imagine an escape from the modern world.

There are no doubts the loamy dirt ribbons running through the Derby network provide riders with one of the best experiences in the country, all accessed just a stone’s throw from your accommodation (and in easy access of a post ride beverage), but the trails have come with a legacy which has the potential to affect the impression of a pristine, ancient environment.