The Coolest Mountain Biking Tracks in Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane
by Michael Carlisle
One of the things I love most about cycling is you can do it just about anywhere. Whether you want a quick and cheap way to get around town, or you want to get away for some peace and quiet without the constant noise of an engine, a bike is the ideal way to do it. As long as you have a firm surface you can get pretty much anywhere on a good bike – you're not stuck on the road. In fact mountain biking is often the most fun.
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Of course that's great if you live somewhere in the bush; you'll always have plenty of places to get off a hard surface and strike out into the wilderness. If you're stuck in a city much of the time it can be a bit trickier though. If you're happy cycling on roads and around parks that won't be a problem but if, like me, you prefer to get your wheels muddy sometimes it can be a bit of a problem. Still, don't worry; it's not all bad news. Most cities have some good mountain bike trails, so you can still get away from the urban rush for a bit. Here are a few suggestions if you live in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne.
Sydney is the largest city in Australia, but it still has plenty of open spaces. Several of them have great mountain biking tracks through a good variety of terrain, so whatever you enjoy you'll probably find one to suit you.
Lake Parramatta is a man-made reservoir in west Sydney, and it's surrounded by a nature reserve that covers 60 hectares of parkland and bush. The whole area is full of trails and it's very popular with both walkers and cyclists. There are some good routes through it that go all the way up to 20km loops to Carlingford and back. If you want to grab your bike and lose yourself for a day this is the perfect place to do it.
Royal National Park is in the southern suburbs and takes in a lot of space – over 15,000 hectares in total. There are some really good trails in the area round Audley, and if you don't want to risk your own bike off road you can hire mountain bikes there. The park's quite hilly and rocky, but there are also forests in the valleys. Head for the coast and there are some nice beaches as well.
Up north there's another nature reserve at Manly Dam. This one's known for watersports but it also has some great mountain bike tracks, including a 9km circuit that's one of the best legal single tracks in Sydney. If you want to cover more distance you can cross the Wakehurst parkway and get down into Bantry Bay. Just be aware of any restrictions on tracks in the national parks – most of the single tracks aren't legal.
Brisbane is a pretty densely populated city but it's quite compact and there are a lot of good trails around the outskirts. A bit of time will let you find plenty for yourself, but for getting started there are some well known options.
Daisy Hill Conservation Park in southwest Brisbane has a choice of three circuits. These run for 4km, 5.7km and 9km, and the shortest one is fantastic if you just want a quick run through some proper gum forests. The whole area is a koala sanctuary, so you stand a good chance of spotting a couple while you're there. The 9km circuit goes through some challenging terrain including water holes and an old quarry; it's ideal if you get bored easily.
If you're in the northwest of the city there's another brilliant short trail at Ferny Grove. Running along the track of an old rail line this is only 1.8km, but it takes you through more forests and there's a bit of local history to catch up on – this bit of track was the scene of Australia's worst rail accident in 1947. If the trail is too short for you there are plenty options to extend it. It's easy to work out a good 6-7km route around it if you want.
Melbourne's a great city in a lot of ways, but it's particularly great for cyclists. There's an increasing number of bike lanes on city roads and as many trails as you could ask for – over 670km of them at last count. A lot of them are paved and marked, but there are plenty mountain bike ones as well.
The Ruffey Creek trail in the eastern suburbs runs for about 5km and can be reached from the paved Yarra River trail. There are some challenging sections, including a steep goat track (you can avoid that and go along the road if you prefer) and it's excellent for you and your friends to bring your BMX Bikes
If you fancy a longer trip there's always the Maribyrong River trail. This runs for 28km and starts near Flinders Street station. Some sections are sealed, but the rest is a good dirt track. It's pretty flat most of the way but with some interesting hilly bits just to stop you taking it too easy.
There's no need to miss out on mountain biking just because you live in a city. Most cities are keen to promote cycling and as well as urban paths they're taking an interest in mountain bike trails. The best solution is to join a local group – you'll find plenty of routes that way. If you're really itching to try out your new bike, though, any of the ones I've mentioned will suit you fine.
Michael Carlisle understands the intricate detail of what a bike needs to ride at it's optimum. He heads up the Technology & Marketing Media at Pushys Online
. The online bike store with everything you need from tubes, pedals BMX Bikes, road bikes and electric bikes.
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