Frequently asked questions

How many trails will be built?

Currently, there are 26 proposed trails. The potential trail on the northern side of Cattle Creek is not being considered at this stage.

The proposed trail network includes one epic adventure trail connecting Eungella and Finch Hatton (36km).

Where will the trails be?

The epic adventure trail connecting Eungella and Finch Hatton is proposed to start at the Sky Window Lookout. Another trail is proposed to connect the Eungella Oval with Sky Window Lookout.

The other 24 proposed trails have been spread across several parcels closer to Finch Hatton. Most of the proposed trails are located on State Government land.  

The trail network is likely to require two shuttle access roads which are being assessed.

How will this project impact me?

The project is intended to provide social and economic benefits for the region. Council will build and maintain the trails, with private investment encouraged to leverage off this tourism experience and provide accommodation, food and beverage, ancillary tourist activities and services for visitors.

How many visitors will the project attract?

It is expected that after 10 years of operation the mountain bike trails will attract just under 31,000 visitors per year. In the first year, the tourism experience is expected to attract a total of 13,000 riders.

 Is mountain biking a seasonal activity?

The racing ‘season’ runs from March to November. Due to Mackay’s tropical climate, the dryer and cooler winter months offer the best conditions to ride.

The tracks will remain open all year unless there is a severe weather event. 

How is the environmental impact of the trails being managed?

As required by State Government, council is undertaking an environmental impact study. The study will identify and address any environmental issues that need to be managed.

Does council offer incentives to business owners?

The Facilitating Development in the Mackay Region Policy provides a suite of flexible concessions to support the delivery of sustainable economic growth that will generate employment, diversify our economy and value-add to existing businesses and industry.

Schedule four of the policy seeks to support private investment in tourism-related business which encourage tourists to visit and stay in the Mackay region. More information on the policy can be found here.

How can the community be involved?

Council is working closely with Mackay Tourism and other stakeholders and has established an internal economic development working group looking at the gaps and opportunities for local businesses. 

Furthermore, the community will be engaged during the master plan design process for the Finch Hatton trailhead and other key project milestones. Regular community updates will be held six-monthly with the Eungella and Finch Hatton communities. 

Opportunities for community involvement will be promoted on the Connecting Mackay website and via other channels.

Who will benefit from this project?

There will be many economic opportunities for rider support services. The project is intended to drive visitation to the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas. Visitors will require places to stay, eat, drink and service their bikes. After 10 years of successful operations, the project is expected to create 110 full-time equivalent jobs in the region and inject $18 million into the local economy.

How much will constructing the trails cost?

The total cost for construction of the trails, trailheads, shuttle access road and the pump track is expected to be $16.9 million.

Who will pay for the project?

Council has funded the acquisition of land for the Finch Hatton trailhead and the Queensland Government has contributed $500,000 towards design elements of the project including detailed design of the trailhead and environmental assessments. Council will be seeking co-funding through State and Federal Government for construction of the project.

When will the trails open?

Construction of the trails is highly dependent on the necessary approvals being sought and the management of cultural and environmental impacts, to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. The first trails are not expected to open before 2022-2023.

How long will construction take?

Once all necessary approvals have been obtained, the project could be completed within 18 months.

Who designed the proposed trail network?

Council engaged one of the largest and most experienced mountain bike trail companies in the world, World Trail, and consultants Otium Planning to undertake a feasibility study for the Eungella - Finch Hatton mountain bike trail town project. World Trail has designed, planned and constructed hundreds of projects in 20 countries and designed and constructed every World Cup, World Championship, Olympic and Enduro World Series course in Australia.

The proposed trail network for the Mackay region will provide a world-class network of mountain bike trails. 

The proposal focuses on the following key market segments - beginner family-friendly trails, intermediate trails, shuttle-accessible gravity trails, an extended intermediate wilderness trail and a pump track in Finch Hatton. 

These areas of the market are in demand, have limited provision in the current regional and state market and offer the most direct opportunities for commercialisation.

What is the Finch Hatton trailhead?

As the primary and first point of contact for mountain bikers that will travel to Finch Hatton, it is imperative that the trailhead is functional, easy-to-find, aesthetically pleasing and close to the trails. 

Key information required at trailheads:

  • general use information and maps 
  • trail etiquette 
  • trail access points
  • hours of use
  • direction of travel 
  • difficulty ratings system 
  • emergency procedures 
  • reporting trail issues and contact details. 

 The trailhead will provide:

  • access to the trail network
  • staging and events area
  • service hub
  • wayfinding to town.

Infrastructure considered for the trailhead includes:

  • car park
  • toilet amenities
  • pump track
  • trail signage and mapping
  • incorporation of the existing Cattle Creek Mill Administration Building for multi-use
  • utilisation of the existing bin maintenance shed as zero point for the trails.

Download a copy of the Finch Hatton trailhead master plan concept.

When will the construction of the trailhead begin?

As for the whole project, construction of the trailhead is subject to land use approvals being sought. Once all the required approvals are in place, construction will commence as soon as funding is made available.

Will the Cattle Creek Mill Administration Building be repurposed?

Yes, this option is preferred. The building is structurally in a good condition and council intends to repurpose it for use as part of the Finch Hatton trailhead. The history of the building and the site provides stories that can be incorporated and reflected through the project. It is these stories that will help make the mountain bike trail destination memorable and unique.

What land did council buy?

Council has purchased rural blocks at the end of Matthew Street and Letchford Street and the old Cattle Creek Mill site. These parcels are all adjacent to the Finch Hatton trailhead and will allow access from the trailhead to the State Government land where the majority of the trails are proposed to be built.

What is council going to do to assist locals to benefit from the project?

Council has set up internal working groups to deliver the project. One of the working groups is focussing on economic development opportunities, land use planning and community engagement. Over the coming months, council will engage with businesses and community members to ensure the right support is offered.

How can I get further information on this project?

Council will keep the community updated via this webpage. 

You can go to the ‘Stay Informed’ button on this page and subscribe to receive project update emails and check the news feed on this page.

Regular community update sessions will be held with the Eungella and Finch Hatton communities. Opportunities for community involvement will be promoted on the project’s Connecting Mackay web page and via other channels.

What sort of trails does the proposal include?

The proposal focuses on the following key market segments - beginner family-friendly trails, intermediate trails, shuttle-accessible gravity trails, an extended intermediate wilderness trail and a pump track in Finch Hatton.

The proposed trail network offers 100km plus of concept trail alignments, covering a broad range of trail experiences suitable for all rider abilities.

Who will build the trails?

As per council’s Procurement Policy, the work will be advertised for tender.

Where are visitors going to stay?

Currently, the majority of accommodation available is located in Eungella.

Private investment will be driven by the demand.

Are there major works planned in the town centre?

A local area planning framework is being investigated for the Finch Hatton township, with the intent of facilitating development opportunities to support Finch Hatton becoming a trail town for the future mountain bike trails.

Click here to learn about the local area planning process.

With an increase in visitation, infrastructure requirements for the area might increase progressively as the project develops over time. Council is planning for different scenarios. 

At this point, the project’s budget does not include road upgrades and other major infrastructure upgrades.

What supporting infrastructure is council building?

Council has developed a master plan for the Finch Hatton trailhead. 

Infrastructure at the trailhead could include:

  • car park
  • toilet amenities
  • pump track
  • trail signage and mapping
  • incorporation of the existing Cattle Creek Mill Administration Building for multi-use
  • utilisation of the existing bin maintenance shed as zero point for the trails.

Download a copy of the Finch Head trailhead master plan concept

Where are people going to park?

Visitors will be able to park at the trailheads. 

Commercial shuttle services will be able to take riders to the trail access points and to the trailheads, for example from Finch Hatton to Eungella.

Is the town’s character going to change?

The project is intended to bring economic growth and investment into the region and has the goal to turn Finch Hatton and Eungella into a successful mountain biking destination. However, the history of the town will be important to visitors. Telling the story of the town will create the ‘destination’.

Who are the expected visitors?

A 2016 nation-wide survey was undertaken to build a greater understanding of the demographics and behaviours of mountain bike trail users in Australia. Key findings of this survey which provide an indication of the Australian mountain biking market profile include:

Gender: There is an overwhelmingly larger male participation (84%), however there has been a 5% increase in female participation from 2014-2016

Age: The largest age group is 35-44 and 25-34, although both decreased from 2014-2016, suggesting growth in other age groups, specifically 12-17 years and 45-54 years

Income: Largest income bracket was $60-79k (decreasing) followed by $80-99k (increasing).

Bike ownership: Respondents owned one (40%) or two (32%) bikes

Expenditure: The most common value of bikes was $7000+ (19%) or $3000-3999 (18%). The most common amount spent on bikes and equipment annually was an average of $1000-$2999.

Mostly, the trails will attract leisure visitors, including families and recreational mountain bikers.

How will accidents be managed?

Council understands that there are limited local emergency services. If the trails are developed, additional emergency planning for normal operations or events would be required. This will include consideration of helicopter access/ landing points and extraction routes. 

With the increase in visitation and visitors staying in the Pioneer Valley, there may be sufficient impetus for the upgrading of local emergency services.

Can the trails be used for activities other than mountain biking?

The current proposal includes single use trails only.

However, we have received requests for dual use and are considering different options. The main priority will be the safety of all trail users and keeping the quality of the mountain biking experience to international standards.

What are the next steps?

  • seek approvals from relevant stakeholders and government agencies
  • local area planning
  • ecological and cultural heritage assessment
  • engage local community and tourism interests
  • secure funding
  • detailed trail design.

Click this link to download the latest FAQ document

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