The Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails – The Largest Single Mountain Bike Project
Loss of industry and subsequent downturn in employment opportunities in the early 2000s hit hard in north-eastern Tasmania. As such, Dorset Council made the decision to work towards transitioning a regional economy from heavy reliance on resource commodity production to a more diversified platform. Mountain biking was first highlighted as a key opportunity in a summary report from Sport and Recreation in 2005. Currently the fastest growing recreational pursuit worldwide, it is a travel motivator that provides economic return for the destination of choice. Generally well educated, affluent and travelling in groups, mountain bikers desire non-crowded natural destinations with good quality base facilities, and are willing to pay for quality experiences; an excellent fit with the offering in Dorset.
In 2011, Northern Tasmania Development (NTD) presented a proposal to develop a network of mountain bike trails at three dispersed development sites; one in the Dorset municipality. Supportive of the concept, Dorset Council researched the projected outcomes, and found an alternative site at Derby aligned to the most successful national and international models, particularly in combination with the nearby Blue Tier proposal.
Partnerships were developed and comprehensive consultation commenced, highlighting the researched achievements of similar mountain biking destinations (where framing and rebuilding through targeted investment has offset the social and economic issues associated with industry downturn).
Initial concept plans were released and partnership support was confirmed by the end of 2012, when an Expression of Interest was submitted to the Australian Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund. Dorset Council, as lead applicant for the project, was successful in securing funding of $2.45 million in 2013, making the $3 million Blue Derby Trails project partnership between Dorset and Break O’Day Councils, Forestry Tasmania, Parks & Wildlife and public, private and community sectors, the largest single mountain bike project in Australia.