Of all the praise that Glen Jacobs has for North-East Tasmania, the highest compliment came almost as an aside.
"I want to move and live here," he said as he gazed at the opal green water lapping onto the white sands of Swimcart Beach.
Born and bred in Cairns, Jacobs is not unfamiliar with either golden beaches or the world-class mountain bike trails that are his reason for getting to know this alternative extremity of Australia.
"I love it here. It's a long journey but it's worth it when you get here and then you just don't want to leave."
Jacobs is the director of World Trail, the company which created the phenomenon of Blue Derby and was then tasked with repeating the feat at neighbouring St Helens.
It was up to the task.
It took four years and contributions of $3.1 million from the federal government, $1 million from the state and $600,000 from Break O'Day Council, but the $4.7 million project officially opened in November and is the equal of its sister project to the west.
Jacobs and his team created The Bay of Fires Trail, a 42-kilometre intermediate level descent from Poimena which links up with the Derby network, plus a series of shorter trails at Flagstaff, a short ride from town.
Joining politicians, dignitaries and journalists of contrasting riding ability for the launch ride, Jacobs was glowing with the results of his team's labours.
"Right from day one it's been brilliant working here," he said.
"Bay of Fires Trail is like nowhere else in the world.
"Everyone talks about Derby but here you've also got beautiful white beaches. Something like this simply does not exist elsewhere.
Something like this simply does not exist elsewhere.Glen Jacobs
"Mountain biking is really going to magnify the North-East. In a year or two, North-East Tasmania will become the epicentre of mountain biking in the world.
"This is one of the most spectacular locations in the world.
"Everybody here in St Helens is on a winner."
Joining the launch ride were three men whose passion and enthusiasm provided the perfect complement to the project's financial foundations.
Break O'Day Council general manager John Brown, Mayor Mick Tucker and trails project manager Ben Pettman have been pivotal to the trails' success.
Tucker's commitment even stretched to making a donation to the skin gods for the cause. "As I was going through the air I thought 'this is going to hurt'," he said as he regaled fellow riders with his spectacular launch-day stack.
He got back on script quicker than he got back on the trail.
"The Bay of Fires Trail is unique. It showcases everything from man ferns, rain forest, eucalypt forest and granite boulders to white sandy beaches.
"This trail will bring riders from all over the world and we are ready to welcome them.
"Having state government and federal government working with local government and a professional company like World Trail has been such a pleasurable few years."
With Pettman steering the ship, the project enlisted the help of Parks and Wildlife to navigate through the choppy waters of environmental impact minimisation and award-winning Launceston-based consultants King Thing to assist with branding and marketing.
In contrast to the mining and forestry hotbed of Derby, much of the land north of Goulds Country and west of Binalong Bay through which the main descent passes was largely untouched by either shovel or saw.
Trail-builders said while they were constantly unearthing rusty industrial relics in the depths of the Derby bush, their meanderings around St Helens had a genuine feel of exploring largely untouched terrain.
As a result, and partly because of lessons learned at Derby, all trails are marked with kilometre posts enabling injured or stranded riders to better explain where they are and helping emergency services to locate them.
As each component of the well-oiled St Helens Mountain Bike Trails project took pride in the results of their collaboration, they also voiced a shared message.
"This is only the start," Tucker said.
"We don't stop now," chipped in Brown.
"It's not finished. This is just the beginning," Jacobs added.
Still gazing wistfully up the Bay of Fires as if contemplating where to explore next, the man whose vision created the iconic Detonate chute, Trouty descent and Twisties staircase at Derby is happy to keep sharing knowledge gained 4000km further north up Australia's eastern seaboard.
"Mountain biking is the No.1 activity there," Jacobs said.
"That's where we learned how to build trails and took that to the rest of the world.
"Mountain biking hasn't even started yet, and I've been in it for 30 years."
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