The first of the state government’s expressions of interest tourism projects in Northern Tasmania has officially been launched.
Premier Will Hodgman cut the ribbon on the Blue Derby Pods Ride on Saturday.
The project was first announced in early 2015, and was given the “green light” to start work in July that year, as part of the government’s expression of interest process for developments in national parks and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Areas.
Tara and Steve Howell are the duo behind the pods.
Mrs Howell said they were excited to finally launch the project.
It had a “soft” opening at the start of April, to be able to cater for the World Mountain Bike Enduro Series crowd.
The experience is a three-day, two-night guided ride with a unique accommodation – custom-made ‘pods’ that have been designed to give the occupier the feeling of being suspended just above the ground.
On-site in the North-East bush land, the base camp holds four pods, plus a common space.
They were pre-assembled in Launceston, and shipped out to the site whole.
“It’s been going really well,” Mrs Howell said.
“The feedback has been exceptional, on the trails and the area and having guides – people are loving having guides.”
“We’ve had enquiries from all over the world, and for more than 12 months in advance.”
Mrs Howell said she believed that mountain biking had an important role to play in the future of tourism in Tasmania.
“I think there’s a lot more opportunities for Blue Derby, in particular with stage two going through to St Helens, there’s a lot more opportunity for investment in the area,” she said.
“I think the community is very positive about the industry that mountain biking is creating for Derby and the North-East region.”
Involving Tasmania in the experience has been a key ethos for the Howells.
“Every touch we’ve been able to [include Tasmania in], we have,” Mrs Howell said.
“The food is from Alps and Amici… the blankets are from Waverley Woollen Mills.”
In launching the rides, Premier Will Hodgman said it was an example of combining the region’s extraordinary natural beauty with mountain bike adventure, unique accommodation, and premium Tasmanian food and wine.
“Tasmania is becoming increasingly recognised across the world as a mountain biking hotspot,” Mr Hodgman said.
“The Blue Derby Pods will support 11 new jobs and the local economy with all equipment, food and services sourced from the state’s Northern region.”