The Northern Territory Mountain Bike Master Plan was completed by TRC Tourism in 2016, a visionary Territory-wide strategy and comprehensive approach for development of sustainable mountain biking for visitors and residents that brings recreational, social and economic benefits to the Territory.
It recommended development of Alice Springs as a premier destination for world class mountain biking; As a result of the Masterplan, TRC developed the Red Centre Adventure Ride concept plan for a new long distance backcountry mountain biking experience through the Tjoritja/ West MacDonnell National Park, west of Alice Springs.
TRC sought to develop a distinctive ride concept that stands out from competitor mountain biking destinations –immersive encounters with the Red Centre landscape and its Aboriginal culture.
- Market analysis was conducted to determine the best experience options for the region and its current and potential markets.
- The trail concept and route were chosen through assessment of the area’s values and constraints; environmental, sustainability and climatic factors; the aspirations of the area’s Traditional Aboriginal Owners; and potential opportunities for partnerships for linked products, accommodation and services.
- A detailed assessment was conducted of the proposed trail alignment to develop a trail that was environmentally sustainable and blended into the landscape. Indicative trail construction costs were estimated.
- The feasibility of the proposed trail was further analysed through estimation of future visitor use and expenditure, a cost-benefit analysis and modelling of the economic impacts of construction and trail operation on the region.
- A prioritised works package was provided for constructions.
The Red Centre Adventure Ride concept is for a 200km trail between Alice Springs and Glen Helen, an established visitor destination near the western end of the MacDonnell Ranges. The trail will be able to be accessed at a number of points along the route from existing visitor nodes. The Ride is designed to be suitable to a range of visitor markets and cycling abilities including a 4-5 day ride on a core trail designed as an accessible, wide, easy single track or shorter rides on 2 loop trails or on different portions of the main trail. It will be able to be cycled by fully independent riders and by riders on self-guided and guided tours through high end or standard packages and on-trail or off-trail accommodation. It is intended that the Ride will be supported by services and facilities provided by local operators, including by Aboriginal communities (for whom there is also potential for involvement in interpretation activities and trail construction and maintenance). Such services include people, equipment and luggage transport; equipment and bike hire, repair and retail; food and beverage supply; long stay parking at trailheads; and bike-friendly accommodation in Alice Springs.
In 2019 the Northern Territory Government allocated $AUD12 million funding towards the trail and associated infrastructure construction.
The next phase of the project involved detailed planning and documentation of the alignment of the trail. TRC undertook this work in partnership with Coffey, Destination Trails and Trick Tracks and working together with The Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture, Aboriginal Traditional Owners, Central Land Council and a group of local Aboriginal trainees. The joint knowledge and skills of this collective team were critical to ensure the RCAR trail is world class.