Mountain bike track will encourage tourists and locals to spend time at St Helens

BOOST: Break O'Day mayor Mick Tucker, MP Mark Shelton, Premier Will Hodgman and MP Rene Hidding talk up the new 66 kilometer mountain bike trail to be built in St Helens. Picture: Scott Gelston.
BOOST: Break O'Day mayor Mick Tucker, MP Mark Shelton, Premier Will Hodgman and MP Rene Hidding talk up the new 66 kilometer mountain bike trail to be built in St Helens. Picture: Scott Gelston.

A 66-kilometre of stacked loop mountain bike track at St Helens will be an injection boost for the community and provide a link to the town centre.

The state government's announcement of $1 million to support the bike trail at St Helens will connect to Lyons Park, which is close to the caravan park, and other existing networks.

The $1 million will help to fund part of the project and will be allocated in next week's state budget. It will be combined with $1.6 million from the federal government and $600,000 fom Break O'Day council.

It's expected the project will cost about $4.5 million in total. The council hopes it is successful for other grants its has applied for to make up the remainder of the funds.

Mayor Mick Tucker said the track would be a stand-alone track but would complement existing tracks at Derby.

Premier Will Hodgman said bike tourism was fast becoming an important part of Tasmania's tourism landscape and there had been a 56 per cent spike in tourists coming to the state who came specifically to mountain bike ride.

"This is a great example of state government working with local government to engage with the strengths of our tourist industry," he said.

"This stacked loop track will provide further opportunities to add to the existing world-class infrastructure we have in the North-East."

St Helens resident Simon Holmes, who conducts a mountain bike program with at-risk youth in the region, said having the track would engage his program participants.

"People always talk about how good mountain biking is for tourism but there will be definite benefits for the local people too," he said.

Mr Holmes said the program has about eight participants, who work at the St Helens District High School to do maintenance and repair work on mountain bikes.

"There are quite a few small tracks here but they aren't recognised, it will be great to have a recognised track where the kids can learn and improve their skills," he said.

He said teaching them maintenance skills and getting them active helped them to engage with the community.

Break O'Day Cycles owner Matt Grundy said he had established the business 14 months ago because of the growing interest in mountain biking in the area.

He said he believed sales had increased since the establishment of the Derby trails and was looking forward to seeing the impact the St Helens trail would have on the community.

The state budget will be handed down next Thursday in Hobart.