LOCAL mountain bike rider, businessman and owner of Bike and Hike Whitsundays, Dylan Ford, is eagerly awaiting new mountain bike trails in the area, more than two years after the matter went to public consultation.
In January 2021, Whitsunday Regional Council prepared a Whitsunday Trails Concept Plan, proposing several mountain bike trails across the region.
Stage one of the project included around 50km of new mountain bike trails located in the Conway National Park near Airlie Beach; as well as trail concepts for South Molle Island, Bowen, Proserpine, and Collinsville, to be considered for future stages.
A public consultation was open online for four weeks on Your Say Whitsunday, receiving 335 submissions.
Whitsunday Regional Council’s economic development manager Gary Warrener said that, despite an overwhelming amount of support for the plan, council was still awaiting funding.
“The Airlie Beach Mountain Bike Trails concepts were well supported by the community via the community consultation,” he said.
“Council received 335 submissions with 94 per cent of people happy with the proposed Whitsunday Trails concepts.
“Our economic development team continues to meet with local investors and government departments to advocate for funding to deliver trail development in the region.”
Mr Ford, owner of Bike and Hike Whitsundays and a passionate mountain biker, feels that opening up more mountain bike trails on the mainland would offer a generous boost to tourism.
“We’re missing out on a huge thing when it comes to mountain bike riding, you’ve only got to look at the regions around us,” Mr Ford said.
“Cairns is just making leaps and bounds with mountain bike riding because they see how good it is for the region and how amazing it is for tourism; they’re a perfect example of how mountain bike riding can be done in a rainforest tropical area.
“There are mountain bike trails being developed in almost every single town up the east coast of Australia, just not here in Airlie Beach.
“Mackay tourism has jumped on it and that’s going to make billions of dollars for that region and it’s something that Airlie Beach is actually better suited for.”