Can La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park host the Commonwealth Games?
The City of Greater Bendigo and Mount Alexander Shire Council are pushing for La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park to host mountain biking, should the sport be part of the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Commonwealth Games Federation and the Victorian Government need to agree to include mountain biking in the 2026 sports program, but if it is then both Councils are advocating for La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park to be the host venue.
Mount Alexander Shire Council Chief Executive Officer Darren Fuzzard said his organisation had submitted an expression of interest to be part of history.
“We have been working on this pitch for several weeks and when the Victorian Government opened the EOI process last week for additional sports to be considered, we were quick to submit La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park as the perfect venue to host mountain biking,” Mr Fuzzard said.
“It is located in the township of Harcourt, 25 minutes south of Bendigo towards Melbourne, and provides 34 kilometres of purpose-built mountain bike trails set against the beautiful Mount Alexander Regional Park.
“Spectators would also be treated to a great regional experience, as the park is located close to accommodation, café and restaurants, retail and cultural venues at nearby Castlemaine, Kyneton and Woodend – all of which are located along the trainline between Bendigo and Melbourne.
“As a neighbouring shire and close to the host city of Bendigo, we are really excited by the possibility of being involved in the 2026 Commonwealth Games.”
Mount Alexander Shire Mayor Cr Bill Maltby said La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park already attracted more than 30,000 visitors each year.
“The park is hugely popular and defies all expectations when it comes to how much it is used. If we were able to host mountain biking, it would unlock the park to host future international competition and present an opportunity to undertake minor upgrades so as it could continue to be a key economic driver for the region,” Cr Maltby said.
To support the expression of interest process, both Councils have jointly written to the UCI and national body AusCycling to press their case and promote La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park as a world-class venue.
The application is also supported by Traditional Owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung.
DJAARA CEO Rodney Carter said the potential to host competition at La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park would be another opportunity to share Dja Dja Wurrung culture with the world.
“This application has our full support for the park, a fantastic cultural, natural and recreational asset, to be a key part of the 2026 Commonwealth Games. DJAARA looks forward to remaining involved in the planning and featuring in the cultural program for the Games,” Mr Carter said.
City of Greater Bendigo Chief Executive Officer Craig Niemann said he was supportive of any way to share the benefits of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
“We first need mountain biking to be included in the program but if it is, we are really excited by what we have to offer in our region,” Mr Niemann said.
“From the City’s perspective, it is important that the benefits of the Games are shared. If sports can be hosted in nearby shires and they can have the opportunity to put their name on the international sporting map, then we want to be able to help them achieve that.”
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said there were approximately 1,340 days until the Commonwealth Games and there wasn’t a moment to waste.
“Every host city wants to host the best Games ever and that is what our regional cities will be striving for in a few years’ time,” Cr Metcalf said.
“We are really fortunate to have such a diverse range of sports facilities in and around Bendigo, and we believe the addition of mountain biking to the Bendigo program would make for an exciting offering for spectators and the many residents who enjoy track and road cycling and mountain biking as a hobby.”
Mountain Biking is part of the 2022 Birmingham program and was also included in the 2018 Gold Coast and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.