If you drive up any of the sealed roads into the mountains outside of winter, you will be aware of the incredible surge of interest in road riding in the Alps. From the Seven Peaks concept (ride up the seven key roads at your own pace during ‘riding season’) to events like the Tour of Bright (which has two substantial hill climb stages including the road to Hotham), road riding is huge.
Mountain bike riding is equally a wildly popular pastime, with Mt Buller in particular being an early adopter in terms of putting in infrastructure. The riding is great, and a growing number of other resorts are seeking to increase tourist visitation through developing infrastructure like single track networks.
In contrast to the organised events, few people seem to venture out into the mountains for touring on tracks, as opposed to the main road network. I have a number of friends who have ridden over the mountains via routes like the 2WD road from Licola to Jamieson or across the Dargo High Plains. But gravely shoulders, logging trucks, and hordes of 4WD tourists makes this seem like a less than appealing option for me.
Then there is the ‘new’ sport of ‘bikepacking’, backcountry trips that use a bike rather than your feet. Bikepacking is to mountain bike riding in the way ski touring is to backcountry riding. One is more about bushwalking on skis or wheels. The other is more about finding the steeps and going hard on the downhill.
If you’re interested in the idea of bike touring, the classic website I know is called Bikepacking, which is based in the USA. The site says it “began in 2012 as a blog to chronicle a bike tour through Mexico & Central America and has since unfurled into an organized and growing resource for bikepacking routes, gear reviews, and adventure stories.” There is one trip suggestion from Australia, a two day ride from Granville Harbour to the Arthur River in western Tasmania.
Lots of great hiking trails in the Australian mountains are rideable. There are also a considerable number that follow 2WD or 4WD tracks, meaning they will make for good touring. Any public roads are allowed to be ridden, except if they are signposted otherwise. As I understand it, seasonal closures only cover motorised vehicles (in fact using bikes to access ski terrain – such as the southern slopes of the Blue Rag range via the Dargo road – is another sub set of mountain bike riding). Some popular walking areas in a number of national parks are off limits to bikes (there are a range of negative impacts on vegetation and soils as well as on water and fauna from riding, especially in steep terrain).
But apart from that, the sky is the limit. Enjoy!