At the Ordinary Meeting of 10 December 2008 Council considered the Executive Manager
Environment’s Report EN49/08 regarding the Hornsby Shire Unstructured Recreation
Strategy and resolved to adopt the Strategy, to further investigate the development of
mountain bike trails within the Hornsby local government area and to report to Council the
results of investigations into mountain bike trails.
This report details the results of investigations to develop mountain bike (MTB) trails within
the Hornsby local government area. Council’s Bushland and Biodiversity Team, members of
the MTB community, Hornsby Shire Mountain Bike Alliance, and the consulting firm World
Trail have together progressed these investigations. The consultants were asked to focus on
one type of MTB discipline known as cross-country. Typically such trails are approximately
8-20 km in length and consist of mostly narrow natural surface trails known as ‘singletrack.’
These are of a similar width to a bush walking track but are specifically designed for MTBs.
The World Trail Report in Attachment 1 is presented for background information and should
be considered a concept plan only. The World Trail Report is not exhaustive in terms of
possible trail locations- it focuses on areas of current use and potential trail routes for
mountain biking near the highly populated urban areas of Hornsby Shire. Further, the
proposed track routes presented in the report are indicative only; they are not accurately
aligned. The concept maps show a combination of existing trails and unmade proposed links.
Some of the track alignments would require adjustment to avoid socially and environmentally
sensitive areas if they were to be built.
The World Trail report found the priority areas to be:
• Old Mans Valley and the Hornsby Quarry lands
• Joes Mountain
• Tunks Ridge
• Near Ginger Meggs Park
• Dog Pound Creek
• Hayes Park
These fall into three broad areas- Hornsby to Westleigh, Tunks Ridge, Dural and Hayes Park,
Galston. Focusing on Council owned land, the consultants believe that Old Mans Valley and
the quarry lands offer the most in terms of suitability for mountain biking. It would include a
track head and provide the start of a trail network of 8 kilometres to Westleigh. Further
consideration of the location of such a trail and track head would need to be incorporated into
consideration of other land uses on the site, including master planning for open space, filling
of the quarry and land instability issues. Nonetheless, it offers a location close to the
Hornsby CBD population and the start of a trail network. The World Trail report provides an
independent investigation and concepts which can form the basis of a more detailed ‘Draft
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Ordinary Meeting 9 December 2009 Business Paper Page 96
Trail Plan’, focusing on Council lands to be presented to the community for consultation
early in 2010 in parallel with the master plan for Old Mans Valley and the Hornsby Quarry.
To report on the results of investigations into the development of mountain bike trails for
Council’s consideration, as required by recommendation 3 from Report EN49/08, and to
make recommendations to Council based on these results.
The Unstructured Recreation Strategy 2008 (URS) recognised the importance of unstructured
recreation. Council supplies a range of facilities for most, but not all, of these recreational
pursuits. The URS sets out future policy directions for the provision of additional facilities.
Over 150 submissions were received during the public exhibition of the URS. All of the
submissions called for more MTB facilities. Given the demonstrated popularity of mountain
biking, Council authorised further investigation into the development of MTB trails within
the Hornsby local government area. Currently there are no MTB facilities or trails set aside
for public use in the Hornsby Shire.
The following is a summary of investigation tasks completed to date. Council staff have:
• reviewed available background material including submissions from the MTB community
• engaged consultants to investigate which, if any, areas in Hornsby Shire are suitable for
cross-country mountain biking and to estimate the cost of potential trail routes, provide
advice about trail signage and future maintenance and management of the trails
• identified potential funding sources for a MTB facility
• briefed the Bushland Management Advisory Committee of Council
Findings of the investigations undertaken to date
Many locations in Australia have good quality MTB facilities that are publicly accessible, yet
in Sydney there are none to match facilities that exist in places like Canberra, Newcastle,
Adelaide, Hobart, Victoria and other locations. Each of these has been built to the
International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) standards and these standards are regarded
as international best practice. They also use the IMBA Trail Difficulty Rating System in their
signage and promotion of the trails. Several of these venues are on National Park estate.
There is a significant amount of unauthorised trail created by walkers and MTB riders in
bushland owned by Hornsby Council, Department of Environment Climate Change & Water
(DECCW – which includes the National Parks and Wildlife Service NPWS) and Land and
Property Management Authority (formerly known as Department of Lands) within the shire.
Access to fire trails by MTBs is currently permissible, however it is singletrack that is
popular with MTB riders who do not find fire trails suitable or interesting. Purpose built
cross-country MTB trails typically consist of approximately 70% singletrack and 30% fire
trail. Land managers are aware that there are many singletrack trails built in bushland areas
illegally and often poorly designed.
The World Trail investigations examined a number of sites and of those, found the priority
areas to be Hornsby to Westleigh (individual trails that make up a network including Old
Mans Valley and the Hornsby Quarry lands, Joes Mountain, Ginger Meggs and Dog Pound
Creek), Tunks Ridge, Dural and Hayes Park, Galston. Importantly, in addition to the trails
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identified, the consultant’s report identifies several crucial links. The most important one is
on Council land, being the link from Old Mans Valley near Quarry Road, Hornsby to near the
end of Rosemead Road and Joes Mountain Fire Trail, where Council land meets the Berowra
Valley Regional Park.
Whilst Old Mans Valley and the Hornsby Quarry lands are highly suitable for mountain bike
facilities, including a track head and the start of a trail network of 8 kilometres to Westleigh,
it is essential that any detailed investigations run in parallel with the current masterplanning
exercise for Old Mans Valley to ensure that it is properly considered in the context of other
open space planning options, quarry filling and stability requirements for the site. It offers
further connections to additional trails (existing and potential) on NPWS and Sydney Water
land, but needs to be more thoroughly considered in terms of detailed locations, avoidance of
conflicts and staging of construction.
Currently DECCW is reviewing MTB management on a policy level and is seeking local onground
solutions within National Parks and Regional Parks in the northern Sydney region.
Council officers have been in discussion with DECCW staff and their NPWS Local Area
Manager about these changes and about Council’s feasibility study for MTB trails. It was
agreed by both parties that the scope of Council’s feasibility study should include Berowra
Valley Regional Park given the close connection it has with Council owned bushland
reserves and trails. In a recent media release from DECCW titled National Parks & Wildlife
Service and mountain bikers meet, NPWS Regional Manager Chris McIntosh said “the
meeting was held to discuss the impacts of MTB riding and to examine what opportunities
exist for more sustainable and more enjoyable MTB tracks in Sydney’s northern bushland”.
Given the current developments, it would be beneficial if Council continues to liaise with
NPWS and other neighbouring land managers to ensure a coordinated approach to better
management of MTB trails. Trails such as Tunks Ridge occur in Berowra Valley Regional
Park, and the important trail links between Hornsby Council lands and Berowra Valley
Cost of proposals
No detailed planning or cost estimates have been prepared for the MTB facilities discussed in
the World Trail report. Some indicative costs for trails on Council land given by the
consultant are shown below.
*Cost estimates for professional design and construction by World Trail Pty Ltd.
1. Hornsby to Westleigh Network
Old Mans Valley Trail (excluding northern side of Quarry area) $84,000 - $167,000 **
Ginger Meggs Trail $20,000 - $40,000
Valley Trail $9,000 - $18,000
Dog Pound Trail $40,000 - $80,000
Total for above network of trails excluding cost of link $153,000 - $305,000
2. Hayes Park Trail - Galston $87,000 - $174,000
* World Trail P/L has offered the option of working with supervised volunteers as a way of
reducing construction costs.
** Another option for a trail outside the unstable lands of the quarry area (Old Mans Valley)
would be a cheaper interim solution that offers flexibility in its trail routing to cater for future
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developments. It is likely to cost significantly less than the minimum figure above of $84,000
and less again if volunteers were to assist under supervision.
Community Participation and Stewardship
The National Director of IMBA Australia was present at the recent NPWS meeting; IMBA
Australia supports sustainable trail alignments and is interested in providing advice to NPWS
and Hornsby Council. The IMBA model is based on a community development approach to
trail network implementation and maintenance. Building the capacity of local MTB riders to
maintain and protect these proposed trails and the adjacent bushland is key to the long term
success of a recreational trail network. Models of sustainable trail design, construction and
maintenance are well established. Frequently, MTB facilities have community participants
that are trained trail volunteers who monitor trail condition and assist the land manager with
Locally the Hornsby Shire MTB Alliance (HSMBA) has offered Council its support and
assistance in relation to the construction and maintenance of MTB facilities. This group has
460 registered members and contains riders of all skills level and all ages (under 16 to over
65). Members include riders who have been trained in the construction and design of trails
and have experience in trail building. 280 members have registered to assist in construction
and maintenance while 36 members of this group have nominated themselves to attend
training workshops to formally learn the IMBA Trail Solutions techniques.
The community stewardship of a trail network can introduce a number of positive outcomes
• Youth participation
• Activity increases in Hornsby residents
• Reduced maintenance costs for land managers
• Reductions in antisocial behaviour in unmanaged reserves
• Appreciation of scenic bushland areas and environmental values
• Potential for community events
Consultation undertaken on behalf of the NSW Government in 2004–05 identified a strong
community desire for parks and trails as places to enjoy a healthy, outdoor lifestyle. The
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current emphasis on the Metropolitan Greenspace Program (MGP) is to encourage councils to
enter into partnerships to develop regional trails projects across their local government
boundaries. In 2008, MGP delivered $2.4 million to councils across Sydney on a dollar-fordollar
basis for the embellishment of Sydney's trails and open space.
Trail networks can produce economic benefits. Given its central location, an MTB facility
accessible from the Hornsby CBD would place it well as a tourism drawcard for MTB riders
who could provide significant business input for Hornsby. Many MTB venues in Australia
are known as tourism assets. For example Mount Stromlo in Canberra has had over 300,000
visitors since 2007; a venue in Victoria called You Yangs has 60,000 visitors per annum. The
development of quality trail networks can attract cycle tourists and a diverse age group of
non-tourist riders, but can also lead to the appreciation of property values, as the benefit of
living next to a good trail network becomes more valued by property owners.
Land managers are responsible for managing legal and illegal use of public lands. Often,
attempted prohibitive management of MTB riding has failed - some of these cases are well
documented in the Sydney area. Hornsby Council’s Bushland and Biodiversity Team is
aware of the difficulty and expense of closing unauthorised walking tracks and bike trails.
Poorly designed trails damage bushland and degrade it further over time. More often than not,
forced track closure in bushland is ineffective. A proactive approach of providing well
designed purpose built MTB trails would address some of these problems.
The provision of a high quality MTB facility will be dependent upon submissions for budget
phase-ups or grant applications, or a combination of both funding sources. Fortunately
recreational trail projects are eligible under both Greenspace and Sport and Recreation grant
Future reviews of the Section 94 Plans will take into account the policy directions contained
within the Unstructured Recreation Strategy, however it is likely to be several years before
this funding could be made available. Subsequent stages of MTB facilities could potentially
be sourced from s94 contributions; this is being investigated by at least one other Council in
The development of new facilities requires funding for annual maintenance costs. This is
typically 5% per annum of capital costs. There is good potential that both construction and
maintenance costs for MTB trails can be reduced with the involvement of a community group
or cycling club. A submission has been received from the MTB community who have
formed a group, HSMBA, and they have offered assistance in this regard as detailed above.
The report is in accordance with policy directions set out in the Unstructured Recreation
The MTB feasibility investigation has been developed by the Bushland and Biodiversity
Team, assisted by World Trail Pty Ltd and the Hornsby Shire MTB Alliance. Consultation
has been undertaken with Council’s Parks and Landscape Team, the Bushland Management
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Advisory Committee, the Traffic and Road Safety Branch, DECCW (NPWS) and IMBA
Close consideration has been given to information on the current condition and future
development of the Hornsby quarry area and adjacent lands.
TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE SUMMARY
Triple Bottom Line attempts to improve Council decisions by being more accountable and
transparent on social, environmental and economic factors. It does this by reporting upon
Council's strategic themes.
Working with our community
The URS identifies a strategy for the delivery of a range of additional recreation facilities for
Hornsby Shire. It has been developed through building upon community surveys undertaken
for the Leisure Strategic Plan. HSMBA and Council staff have been working closely to
gather information on track options, trail needs, rider demographics and regional context.
Conserving our natural environment
The consultants report on preferred MTB trail options locates facilities within or close to
bushland, bringing people to bushland for the purposes of recreation, and it is hoped this will
promote community appreciation and understanding of bushland preservation. These
facilities will need to be carefully designed to minimise potential environmental impacts,
provide MTB facilities and progress closure of unauthorised tracks.
Contributing to community development through sustainable facilities and services
A range of community benefits are discussed on page three of this report, primarily that there
will be improved opportunities for recreation activity and better access to healthy activity
options. A proposal to develop a MTB facility addresses a shortfall for a high demand
activity, currently there are no MTB facilities or trails set aside for public use in the Hornsby
Shire. Authorised MTB trail facilities would relieve the pressure on some walking tracks.
Models of sustainable MTB trail design, construction and maintenance are well established in
other parts of Australia.
Fulfilling our community’s vision in planning for the future of the Shire
The URS arose from the extensive community consultation and research that underlies the
Hornsby Leisure Strategic Plan. The main aim of the URS is to prepare a strategic approach
for the future provision of facilities for unstructured recreation so that the community's needs
for a healthy lifestyle are better met.
Consultation undertaken on behalf of the NSW Government in 2004–05 identified a strong
community desire for parks and trails as places to enjoy a healthy, outdoor lifestyle and, as
such, the current emphasis for the Metropolitan Greenspace Program is to encourage
Councils to enter into partnerships to develop regional trails projects across their local
Supporting our diverse economy
The provision of recreation facilities enhances the quality of life for a community and this is
often a prime consideration for new businesses wishing to relocate. Development of new
facilities involves capital investment and subsequent engagement of suppliers and
contractors. As discussed in the report MTB facilities have the potential for significant tourist
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Maintaining sound corporate and financial management
Further work will be required in the preparation of detailed capital cost estimates and
maintenance budgets. Facilities will only be provided when sufficient funds and sufficient
community support has been secured for the long term.
Other Sustainability Considerations
An MTB facility proposal will seek to integrate social, economic and environmental
The responsible officer is Council’s Bushland Management Operation Coordinator, Mr
Anthony Newling, who can be contacted on telephone 9847 6839 between 9.00am and
5.00pm, Monday to Friday.
1. Council provide in-principle support to the provision of cross country mountain bike
tracks as outlined in Report EN 58/09.
2. Council seek opportunities to fund the provision of cross country mountain bike
tracks in Hornsby Shire.
3. Council endorse the preparation of a draft mountain bike trail plan for the Hornsby to
Westleigh trail network for public consultation, subject to funds being identified for
4. Council include the potential for a mountain bike track and trailhead location within
the Masterplan process for Old Mans Valley.
5. Council continue to work with the Department of Environment, Climate Change and
Water and the mountain bike community to develop preferred mountain bike trail
options within the Hornsby Shire.
1. Feasibility Study for a Mountain Bike Facility in
Included under separate
File Reference: F2008/00693"