Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published May 21st 2012
Okay, wandering around the average Melbourne suburb, it's hard to imagine that there are hills big enough to pose a challenge for any keen mountain biker. But, you'd be wrong. Very wrong. Melbourne has some really wild and gnarly mountain bike trails where you can let loose and churn up some mud, all within a stone's throw of the city.
Competitive Mountain Biking (c) Australian Bicycle Network
1. Lysterfield Lake Mountain Bike Course The extensive network of tracks around Lysterfield Park (Melways 108 D2) were the site of the 2006 Commonwealth Games mountain biking events, and are justly popular. If you are just visiting Melbourne, and haven't brought your bike, or want to give it a try before you invest, you can rent mountain bikes from the Visitor Centre/Trailmix cafe at the Horswood Road entrance, near the swimming beach. There's a link to the map of the 10 different mountain bike trails here.. If you are up for a challenge, keep an eye out for the various competitions, both amateur and professional which are run in this park.
2. The You Yangs
Parks Victoria has designated 410 hectares of this fabulous granite outcrop park for recreational mountain bike use. It's just 40 minutes from the city (Melways Key Map 11 C12) and you feel like you are going for King of the Mountain. Apart from the network of management vehicle tracks, there are also 15kms of dedicated single wheel tracks to focus your attention. The Parks Victoria Mountain Biking Trail map for the You Yangs is here. Access is easy as long as you own four wheels as well as two, and is via the Geelong Freeway.
3. The Dandenongs Either side of village of Olinda, in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, there are numerous management vehicle tracks which are designated as suitable for mountain biking. Head for Doongalla Homestead at the base of Mt Dandenong, or Olinda Falls, just to the east of Silvan Reservoir. The Parks Victoria biking map for the area can be found here.
Mountain Bike Victoria Evening Competition (c) MBV
Further afield, you can look for daytrips out to Kinglake, Mount Beauty and the mecca of Victorian Mountain Biking, Forrest, in the Otway Ranges. Bicycle Network offers excellent information about these and other trails in the state. Mountain Bike Victoria is the place to go to find out about current competitions.
Keep in mind when you are hurling yourself down a bumpy track, that many of these paths are shared with other users, including walkers, and in some cases, horse riders, so be considerate, and ensure you keep to marked trails to minimise environmental damage and safeguard ongoing access. Most importantly: enjoy!