December 15, 2021

Gourmet gravel rides, e-biking to breakfast in a High Country hut, and a self-guided tour of the Great Victorian Rail Trail are just some of the eight new experiences ready to launch in Victoria’s High Country in 2022 as part of the Tourism North East’s Ride High Country Kickstart program. 


The three-month Kickstart program was designed by Tourism North East and co-funded by Local Government and Resort Management Boards within the High Country and the State government, to accelerate and support operators in the delivery of new bookable experiences that showcase what the High Country has to offer cycling visitors across road, recreational cycling, mountain bike and gravel.


From 30 expressions of interest, nine participants were invited to take part in the program, including some who already offer cycling products, and some venturing into the cycling tourism market for the first time. 


“We were looking for products that would hero Victoria’s High Country, continue to strengthen the High Country as Australia’s premier cycling destination and, of course, meet the needs of our most engaged cycle tourism market across road, recreational cycling, mountain bike and gravel,” said Tourism North East CEO, Bess Nolan-Cook. 


The Kickstart program was designed not only to help the operators deliver the new products with mentoring of Tourism North East and other professionals, but to also build a framework for future product development. 


The first step was to expand and test their ideas, using Tourism North East’s extensive Cycle Tourism Research to identify their target audience and refine their product to suit the audience’s unique needs. 


Design agency MELD was engaged to facilitate product design sessions, and a think tank comprising experts across tourism, media and cycling was created to carefully consider and analyse each product idea.


The products then underwent critical product testing, which took them from big ideas to solid experiences. Operators also attended group and individual sessions with an accountant to ensure the products were priced appropriately for the market, while also providing profitable products. 


To help operators bring the products to life, the Kickstart program also included one-on-one mentoring from Tourism North East’s Industry and Product Development team, social media workshops, Ride High Country campaign briefings, and professional photography with High Country cycling photographer, Matt Rousu. 


“It’s a testament to the passion and creativity of these businesses that they have designed and delivered these products to such a high standard in such a short time frame,” said Ms Nolan-Cook. 


“What we have is eight incredible products that cover road, rail trail, mountain bike and gravel in nearly every corner of Victoria’s High Country.”


Amongst the products launching in 2022 is “The Big Blue Duck Ride” by Alpine Nature Experiences. The first cycling product offered by the Hotham-based tourism operator, which hosts the popular “Snowshoe to Fondue” experience, the all-inclusive weekend will take riders on an epic 80km downhill ride to the iconic Blue Duck pub in Omeo. 


In a collaboration led by Bridge Road Brewers, “Roll to Indulge” invites visitors to experience Australia’s newest rail trail linking Beechworth and Yackandandah. Designed for casual riders, the product showcases several local businesses in one experience, including The Bike Hire Company and Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, along with Happy Baker, The Guard, and Backwoods Distillery in Yackandandah. 


The eight participants and products launching in 2022 are:


Ride Holidays – Victorian High Country Cycling and Gourmet Getaway | Indigo Shire

Falls Creek Guides – Breakfast at Wallaces Hut | Falls Creek Resort

Bridge Road Brewers – Roll to Indulge (Bikes, Brews and Bites) | Indigo Shire

Double Black Alpine – The Best of the GVRT | Mansfield & Murrindindi Shires

High Country Womens Cycling – Girls, Gravel and Gourmet | Mount Hotham Resort

Tour De Vines – Tour de Yackandandah | Indigo Shire

Alpine Nature Experiences – The Big Blue Duck Ride. Go on, give it a quack! | Mount Hotham Resort

Altitude 221 – The Vine Cycle | Mansfield Shire