THE wheels have been set in motion to transform Warburton into a world-class mountain bike destination.
The cycling hub will consist of four zones with up to 140km of mountain bike trails, linked by the Warburton trail and the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail.
A 33km main loop will link the trails and be accessible to walkers and runners as well as cyclists.
Yarra Ranges Council has voted to allocate an initial $500,000 towards the project and plans to seek more external funding.
The Upper Yarra Community Enterprise has already pledged $300,000 to the project, which is expected to cost up to $4.2 million.
Yarra Ranges Mountain Bikers president Damian Auton said he was overjoyed the council had agreed to help pay for the project.
He said the hub would not only benefit the riding community but the local economy, too.
In its first year of completion, it is estimated that the trail network could attract 130,000 mountain bike visitors (120,000 day visitors and 10,000 overnight visitors).
“It will be a fantastic facility that will be of an international standard and will be of incredible value for the community,” Mr Auton said.
“If all goes to plan, there will be people from overseas coming to visit to use this facility and planning their holidays around Warburton.”
Doug Greenall, who owns the Cog Bike Cafe, said the news was “super exciting”.
“It’s going to great for the community, great for jobs and great for the Yarra Valley – what’s not to like?” Mr Greenall said.
“Everyone has been really pumped about it after hearing all about it – it’s now just a matter of getting the ball rolling.”
O’Shannassy Ward councillor Jim Child said he was glad to see the council funding such a worthy project.
Cr Child said he hoped to see money from the State Government’s Infrastructure Fund for Interface Councils used to establish the trail network.
The fund – of which Yarra Ranges Council has been allocated $5 million – was established to help rebuild, expand or upgrade community infrastructure.
- Estelle Griepink | 2 Jun 2015 Lilydale and Yarra Valley Leader