In the north east of Tasmania, about an hour from Launceston is a small town that nearly died. It is called Derby. Set in a small valley at the confluence of the Ringarooma and Cascade Rivers, the town was settled in 1874 after the Krushka brothers discovered tin in the area. Mining took off and the population peaked at 3,000 before the town dam collapsed in 1929 after 470mm of rain fell in one day, killing 14 people. The mine reopened but was eventually closed in 1948.
Like many small Australian towns, it slowly declined until 2015 when everything changed. You see Derby was chosen by some forward thinking locals and one “out of towner” as a potential travel destination for mountain bike enthusiasts. With support from local and state government under the leadership of Glen Jacob at World Trail, a tantalising network of purpose built mountain bike trails was built utilising the superb natural landscape that is on offer in this majestic part of the world. The result is nothing short of mind blowing. Picture Jurassic Park with hundreds of kilometres of purpose built climbs and descents with berms, ferns, boulders, cliffs, creeks and rock gardens.
The trails are called Blue Derby and stretch way out to the Blue Tier area. In April 2017, Derby hosted a round of the Enduro World Series, a premier mountain bike race. It was the first time it's been held in Australia. Mountain bike tourism has reinvigorated the town which now has a bike shop (obviously!), cafés, restaurants and a couple of pubs. Locals are taking pride in their homes, many of which are now listed on Air BnB but there is plenty of room for caravans and camping.
I’ve been very lucky to travel to some fabulous places, but to travel to Derby with four great mates, mountain bikes in tow, has to be up there with one of the best trips ever. If you’re into adventure tourism, just do it. That is all. www.ridebluederby.com.au
Tom Gilbert, Adelaide Hills Toyota, Mt Barker, ahtoyota.com.au, 8398 2226