From the first pedal stroke, noise accompanies the rider.
The chain whips and cracks. An occasional click from the derailleur as the rider pushes for more speed. The screeching slide of the rear wheel as it throws out gravel from the top of the berm. Constant huffing, while continually scanning for a faster line down the mountain.
Then, the tyres leave the lip of the jump and… silence…
The only hint of a sound is the tyres freely spinning.
With a crunch upon landing, the chaotic cacophony surrounds the rider and their bike again.
"...positioning Gippsland as a nationally significant mountain biking destination."
Much noise has surrounded the creation of the Haunted Hills Mountain Bike Park in Newborough too, all of it accompanied by the buzz of excitement. Once complete, the park will become the gateway to the G7 Mountain Bike Hub – a collection of seven diverse and ridiculously fun bike parks in Central Gippsland.
It’s taken a heck of a lot of work to get to this point, but the potential of the project is intoxicating as mountain biking guru, Haunted Hills co-creator and Destination Gippsland’s project manager for tracks and trails Nicholas King explains:
“The catalyst and driving force behind the project, Gippsland MTB (GMTB), was formed in May 2008 due to the popularity of mountain biking and at the request of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) (now Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning). GMTB is a not-for-profit incorporated association run by volunteers for the benefit of mountain bikers in Gippsland.”
Nearly 12 km of shreddable single track is open at the Haunted Hills so far, with Stage 2 of the project, currently underway and construction fully funded by the Victorian State Government, Regional Tourism Investment Fund-Stimulus managed by Regional Development Victoria. Stage 2 adds about another 12 km of trail and a planned Stage 3 doubling the length of the available track yet again — that’s a whole lotta trail to tear.
The seven parks forming the fabled G7 will eventually include Maryvale Pines, Somewhere Good, Blores Hill, Avon-Mt Hedrick, Erica, Mt Baw Baw and the Haunted Hills. As you imagine, undertaking a project of this scale isn’t as easy as flying over the handlebars when hitting a tree root. But, the dividends could be sizeable.
“It is this depth and breadth of the offering that has spurred the concept of positioning Gippsland as a nationally significant mountain biking destination.
“Implementation of the ‘G7’ will seed tourism development, increase physical activity opportunities for local and regional communities, spark economic development, and potentially create an opportunity for employment, business and skills development benefitting local communities and bolstering regional liveability indices.”
Honestly, we’re not entirely sure what a ‘liveability index’ is. We’d much rather go scary fast down a steep hill, which is why watching Nick's smile grow as he described the sections of track resonated more with us. “A trip to the Haunted Hills isn’t complete without shredding down ‘Mad Cows’, a blue rated intermediate trail described as ‘Progressive descending trail that increases the rider’s ability to jump with confidence. Hollow sounds under hoof may cause cows to stampede and send beasts into the scrub!’.
The Haunted Hills Mountain Bike Park was made possible by funding from the Australian Government and the Victorian Government and is supported by Gippsland MTB, Latrobe City Council, Energy Australia, Destination Gippsland, and contractors Trailscapes and HCM Constructions.
The project control team acknowledges their continued support.