Work to start on mountain bike trail build – East Gippsland

Work is set to begin on a network of trails that will turn Omeo into a mecca for mountain bikers.

The Omeo Mountain Bike Trails will put the Alpine town on the map as a year-round active tourism destination and capture nationwide demand for outdoor adventure.

Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said the Omeo Mountain Bike Trails will create an eco-friendly tourism drawcard for the town.

“It will see more people discover the unspoilt beauty of Omeo and the High Country and provide a boost for local businesses and jobs,” Cr Reeves said.

“The local community has embraced the project and look forward to introducing visitors to the spectacular landscapes that surround their town.”

“This is a major project for not only Omeo, but East Gippsland and Victoria. It puts us in the conversation of national and world-class mountain biking. This will create opportunities for cycling tourism, economic diversity and growth in the High Country, and major events.

“The investment by all three tiers of government, and the push of the community will make this a success and the benefits will flow accordingly.”

Work on Stage 1 will begin late this month, with contactor Common Ground Trails, who built the Pump and Skills Track in Livingstone Park, using a workforce of current staff and locals for the build.

It is expected the first trail will be available for riding by December this year, with Stage 1 completed by December 2023.

The first stage will include:

  • 56 kilometres of cross-country and downhill gravity trails
  • Switchback climbs for over 500m up nearby Mt Mesley
  • An easy loop trail parallel to the Great Alpine Road that leads to the Historical Oriental Claims area.
  • A descending trail of over 500 vertical metres from the summit of Mt Sam linking to Mt Mesley and finishing in Livingstone Park

In April 2021, East Gippsland Shire Council resolved to award the contract for the Omeo Mountain Bike Trail Construction to Common Ground Trails Pty Ltd for Stage 1 – 56.3km of trails.

However, in the time between contract consideration by Council (16 March 2021) and Council’s ability to finalise the contract (due to a VCAT hearing in November and determination in December 2021),the construction environment has changed considerably.

The project has also incurred additional costs associated with native vegetation management and legal and associated costs relating to the VCAT hearing. Significantly, this includes mandated changes to a parcel of Crown land being used to meet native vegetation offset requirements, and a requirement to pay for these new costs upfront, rather than in annualised instalments.

At this week’s Council Meeting (5 April 2022), Council supported a budget variation to address the above.

Cr Reeves said cost escalations on projects in the current environment are not lost on Council.

“Delays and price escalations were not of Council’s making. The significance and benefit of this project means we are committed to seeing it completed,” Cr Reeves said.

The trails will meet Mountain Bike Australia criteria for national events with event plans underway for when Stage 1 is completed.

This project has been funded by Council, the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, and the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and more recently the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund.

The project has been made possible through the strong collaborative efforts of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria and a dedicated group of community supporters working with Council.

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