The South Coast’s mountain bike trails are fast becoming one of the hottest destinations for families. One town has an international reputation for excellence.
“Tathra is the kingpin of the Sapphire Coast trail network,” Aaron Bashford says.
Aaron runs Tathra Beach and Bike, a mountain bike hire shop in the main street of Tathra.
He’s not exaggerating. Tathra has 55km of single track riding on both sides of the highway. It is without a doubt, one of the best places to mountain bike on the NSW South Coast.
More than a decade ago, a small group of committed mountain bike enthusiasts began to carve out the Tathra mountain bike trails alongside volunteers from the Bega Aboriginal Lands Council.
Work continues to improve and expand on the trail network each year. Tathra currently has 55km of single track rides. They are working on a new green beginners track for kids to open soon. The council has graded the trails according to ability.
The Tathra trails cover all experience levels and Aaron says the best place to get started is in the skills park.
“Kids will spend all day there if you let them,” he says. “They have dirt rollers they can roll over and learn to create momentum. they can cruise around and do some little jumps and have a blast.
“There is a little kilometre long loop that is super basic – I have taken my daughter on it on a balance bike when she was two-years-old.”
Kids will need to have basic bike skills – no training wheels. They should be able to confidently ride on the pavement before they try to mountain bike.
Once they’ve conquered the skills park and the basic tracks, kids can try the beginner tracks around Tathra.
“We have a range of different trails to suit families and kids really nicely because they are not as difficult as some other mountain biking trails,” Aaron says. “You don’t come across scary obstacles on the trail and drops and jumps all that much.”
Aaron says most kids who take on the trails start from seven or eight-years-old: “You have to have the strength in your legs to get up the hills around here.”
MTB Tathra hires bikes from 20 inches, they also rent helmets. If you think you may need it – they also have electric mountain bikes. Most people who come to Tathra swing past the store to pick up a trail map and get some advice.
Aaron says the number of families coming to the Sapphire Coast for its mountain bike trails has been growing steadily. It’s the perfect location – a combination of the beach and the mountains – the best of both worlds.
“One parent usually takes care of the kids on the beach while the other one rides and then they swap over,” Aaron says.
Without the kids – adults will be able to tackle more adventurous tracks.
Tathra is cross country style riding, with plenty of ups and downs. About 30km are on the Bundadung side of the main road. Another 25km of the track called “Fire shed” extend into the bush past the main road.
One track gets rave reviews from all who ride it.
“You have to conquer bridges if you come to Tathra,” Aaron says.
“It’s a run where you have all these crests on the run and you have 12 bridges you cross on the trail. It’s a black run though – so not everyone can do it.”
Haddi Gatti has some sweet jumps. On the fire shed side, rides can “do great corners against the creek bed” on Humpty Dumpty.
Beyond Tathra, mountain bike tracks are also springing up in other towns. Bermagui has a great mountain bike trail network affectionately known as “dirt surfers”. This exciting 6.7km track through the state forest features bridges, switchbacks and technical sections. It has a 900-metre track for kids too.
Mandeni Family Fun Park has about 20km of trails for families. Absolute beginners should take the purple track, a 1.8km flat easy ride through the bush.
Head to the white trail for 11km of challenging cross-country adventure. This trail has logs, fun downhill sections and wooden bridges. Mandeni has a skills park with bumps, log rides, jumps and bridges.
Mandeni Park has mini-golf, archery, paddle boats and water golf. So you can “swap out” riders to child-minding duty.