Today will mark the beginning of an exciting journey for Talbingo Mountain Bike (MTB) club, with the construction of their Stage 1A trailhead and skills park commencing.
The site, which will be located opposite the Talbingo Country Club on the foreshore, will be the first real step in creating more than 120km of mountain bike trails throughout the Talbingo region.
Talbingo MTB president Stuart Guy explained that the construction of the skills park was only possible because of a substantial grant from the Visy Tumut Region Recovery Fund, which was delivered by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
“We were lucky enough to get a grant of $40,800 from the VISY recovery fund,” Guy said.
“It’s massive, it is probably the smallest amount of money we will get as a parcel, but it is the most important symbolically; building this trail head is the catalyst for the whole project and everything else that will come of it.”
Guy was hoping the construction of the trailhead would be completed in quick time but admitted the current Covid-19 pandemic meant that any official opening would likely be delayed.
“We are thinking 4-6 weeks, depending on what happens with the Covid-19 stuff, the June long weekend would have been a good official opening but we will probably have to push it back,” Guy said.
The skills park itself will be essential for Talbingo and the region’s current and prospective MTB enthusiasts, offering those riders a chance to hone in on the skills that are necessary to ride on any future trails.
“The idea of a skills park is where beginners and kids can further enhance their mountain bike skills, getting them ready for the trails,” Guy said.
“There is lumps and bumps in an area where people can practice their braking and skills in a safe, controlled environment.”
The owner of Go Play Outside, a snow and mountain sports equipment hire store in Talbingo, explained why they chose the location of the skills park.
“It just made sense. That trail head is the lowest point and flattest point, and for kids and parents it works in really well, especially being so close to the (Talbingo Country) Club,” Guy said.
Talbingo MTB only came to exist in September 2019, but have made big strides in their quest to offer locals and tourists unique MTB trails, despite the region being impacted by the Dunns Road bushfires and the Coronavirus pandemic.
Guy suggested that the fires had actually helped their progress, highlighting the need to help the region grow and recover from such a disastrous event.
“This is the start of the bigger picture and helping the recovery of the region and getting more mountain bikers into Talbingo and the Snowy Mountains,” Guy said.
“Talbingo MTB only really started all of this in September and it has been a really quick turnaround to get to this point, the fires have accelerated the process.
“We thought we would be stuffed after everything that happened, but the region realised we needed this project and they have been very supportive.”
Talbingo MTB secretary John Doidge highlighted that the whole of Talbingo was behind the planned trails, with residents ready and waiting to get involved in the construction of the trails.
“We have a number of people that have given us heaps of support, it has been really well received,” Doidge said.
“We have all of these blokes who will have shovels in their hand, they all went to Jindabyne to do a course so they could be trained and qualified trail builders.”
Doidge said that meetings with key stakeholders had Talbingo MTB in a good position going forward but stressed that a lot more legwork needed to happen before any trails were crafted.
“Conversation and presentations with Council, Tourism Riverina Murray, State Government, Snowy Hydro and National Parks have been really positive but there is still more that needs to be done,” Doidge said.
Without giving too much away about potential trails, Talbingo MTB could potentially boast the biggest MTB descent in Australia, which would no doubt attract riders from all over the country and the world.
“We will have a vertical drop of 1000m but the actually decent is tens of kilometres,” Doidge said.
“The plan is that there will be a variety of trails for all levels (of riders), which will all lead back to that one spot in Talbingo.”
The club secretary said the excitement around the project has local businesses preparing for an influx of tourists.
“The local businesses are already starting to plan for all of this in town, they are changing the way they look at things,” Doidge said.
“It is creating new jobs, new business ventures and a general interest in Talbingo and offering something that complements the tourism that our ski season normally brings to town.”
Doidge, along with other Talbingo MTB members and supporters, will be on hand today when the ground is broken for the first time.
“We have a golden shovel ready to go, we have excavators, we are just waiting on Tuesday to come,” Doidge laughed.
“It will be a big day for Talbingo, it certainly won’t be the biggest thing we do in the scheme of things but it will be the most memorable.”