By Rob Gunstone


Persistence has been the key to obtaining a $500,000 Victorian Government Regional Infrastructure Fund grant to upgrade and improve the Forrest mountain bike trails.

Forrest Mountain Bike Club president Sandy Maxwell said the group had been trying to get funding for “six or seven years”.

Maxwell said the majority of the planning for the upgrades had been completed, with just heritage and environmental overlays to be finished.

“The new money can be dedicated to the trails themselves,” Maxwell said.

“We want to make sure the existing trails are built to be more sustainable, many of them were built before this was considered.

“The initial phase of the new trails will be built at Forrest township and will be referred to as the Barwon Flow system.”

Two down-trails and one up-trail will be established, with a 1.6km beginner flow trail and 1.2km intermediate flow and jump trail.

The trails will be machine built and then hand formed, with all new trails built to accomodate adaptive hand cycles.

“We would like to attract those riders to come and use these trails by building them with them in mind,” Maxwell said.

“The three and four wheel adaptive bikes will be able to fit down these trails, we are also planning to adapt some of the existing trails to help with this as well.

“We want to make sure the existing trails are built to be more sustainable, many of them were built before this was considered. At this stage we still need to finish all of the overlays and put the project out to tender, and go from there.”

Forrest was one of the first towns in Australia to develop mountain bike trails to support the local economy. Initially established in 2005, Maxwell said it is now used as an example of how to rebuild failing towns.

“Derby came here when they were putting their business case together, so did a group from Harcourt,” he said.

“They wanted to see what the benefit was of building a trail network close to your town. We are now one of the first clubs to try and rejuvenate their trail network and work out how to adapt existing trails to new standards.

“It’s not as sexy as cutting the ribbon on a brand new network and that might be why it has taken longer to get to this stage.”

Head here for more information on the Forrest MTB Trails.