This June long weekend, hundreds of mountain bike riders, their families and fans will converge on the seaside village of Tathra to take part in the town’s annual Tathra Beach & Bike MTB Enduro.
Tathra’s cross-country, mountain bike event has gained a cult following due to its fantastic, easily accessible, and well-maintained trails, the surrounding natural beauty and great community spirit is the cream on top.
Local Andy Johnson started building mountain bike trails on the slopes of spotted gum behind Tathra back in 2001.
He’d been enjoying riding the Bermagui dirt trails and wanted to ride closer to home. His early efforts were observed by an old Tathra timber-getter, Joe Caddey, who suggested the trails Andy was labouring over wouldn’t last long.
Joe told Andy to follow the wallaby trails as a guide, he then joined Andy in clearing and building the stunning single-track trail now known as the Bundadung Track.
Joe has since passed on, but Andy and many volunteers from the Tathra Mountain Bike Club have continued to work hard maintaining Bundadung (meaning wombat, spirit of the forest) along with the Bega Aboriginal Lands Council, Tathra Nature Trust, and private landholders. A spectacular and much-loved network of directional single track trails is the end result.
The Bundadung area now features nearly 30 kms of high-quality trail, and the Tathra Fire Shed trail boasts another 20 kms.
Since the fires of 2018, the view from the tracks over the township and ocean towards Mogareeka and Mimosa Rocks National Park is stunning, and the bright green of new growth bursting from the ground adds terrific energy.
This week Andy, Stacey George and Tom Park (of Evil Tom ascent fame!) and other volunteers are out checking, clearing and repairing the trails in the lead-up to the long weekend.
Andy explains that last year, “after the fires, all the tracks were under a thick, hard crust of debris, dust and ash, and the bridges and corners were burnt out. Around eighty volunteers with rakes took only an hour or so to clear it all, it was amazing”.
A true family event, the MTB Enduro welcomes and encourages all skill levels and ages. Along the trails on the day riders are cheered and encouraged by enthusiastic supporters and musicians, and track sweepers making sure all competitors are safe and accounted for.
The 50 km of racing trails, and skills park for younger riders, are all located within a stone’s throw of the Tathra township, with the main trailhead and race start located at the Tathra Country Club.
As Andy says “you can just ride from your accommodation to the trails, no need to load up the car”.
Aaron Bashford of Tathra Beach & Bike, sponsors the Enduro, he says that as well as being fun, the event is a great boost for local businesses in the winter season. “It really spreads the word about our bike trails, and our town. People come for the race, then stay extra nights, or come back again later in the year.”
The trails around Tathra are all graded in a similar way to ski runs, with green (easy), blue (intermediate) and black (difficult). All are marked well signposted. There are excellent maps and rules displayed at various places around town.
This year there are plenty of race options for all the family and any level of fitness. From the grand marathon ‘The King Nelba’ 75km, to the rubber-burning Mitas 50km, and the Bundadung 25km. There’s the Lap it Up event of 5, 10, 15 or 20km for younger or less experienced riders.
The skills park at the Tathra Country Club will be full of fun on Saturday with the Bega Cheese Children’s Chase over 1 km and 3 km, a free event to help your kids get inspired and build their confidence.
All proceeds from the event go to local community organisations and the up-keep of the Tathra MTB trail network.
The Tathra Beach & Bike MTB Enduro is on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of June. For information and accommodation options visit the Tathra MTB Club website.