Quarry Road Track Closure?
A couple of years ago, I posted an article in regards to the apparent imminent closure of the famed Quarry Road Track linking Hornsby with Dural due to the danger of the nearby rifle range. Fortunately, despite the initial panic (which was understandable given the signs indicating the complete closure of the track), this ended up eventuating to being technically off limits only in shooting times and accessible before 9am and after 4pm, as well as any other time shooting was no being conducted.
But now is time to once again be on red alert.
This morning, I did my regular Saturday ride, and read the following sign at the bridge, reading the following:
“Dear Bushwalkers, Runners and Cyclists,
National Parks and the Hornsby Rifle Range have closed the Benowie Walking Track (Great North Walk) between Fishponds and the Steele Bridge. They have also closed sections of the Quarry Track that runs between between [sic] Hornsby and Dural. Both of these trails have been enjoyed safely for decades.
If you would like these trails to remain open, please write to Matt Kean, Member for Hornsby, at firstname.lastname@example.org”
It cited no authorship, affiliation or any further details, but the following facts have led me to believe me that this is a note to be taken seriously:
1) The official 2km section of the GNW along Berowra Creek between Fishponds and the bridge now has a big “Track Closed – please use alternative route” wooden sign at its entrance installed in the past couple of months
2) Two sections of the QRT had signs telling users to “keep out unless authorized” installed 18 months ago, and it was illegal to enter it in designated shooting times (which could be ascertained by phoning the range manager).
3) According the manager of a local bushwalking group that my mum is involved in, negotiations have been made by the range with NPWS by some means completely close the track in two places by some means (which he was complaining about just this morning).
If any section of the QRT is closed, this will mean that cyclist access between Hornsby and Dural will be cut, except via the very dangerous Galston Gorge.
Now I’m not sure if Matt Kean is the optimum person to write to, as suggested in the sign, as I’d assume it’s either Hornsby Council or NPWS (or the rifle range managers if there’s any reason to think they’d listen), so if someone could shed some light on who’s behind all this that’d be great, but either way, here are the main points to make about the situation:
1) The track has been used safely for years by runners, walkers and cyclists alike with no record of any incident involving an ammunition projectile, so unless the type of use of the range has changed, why have the access restrictions on the track suddenly come in? If it was previously any safety hazard, why wasn’t the track cordoned off years ago? This is particularly so with the GNW section at the valley floor, where, only by shooting high up in the air could a bullet possibly land there.
2) QRT (and the aforementioned section of the GNW) has a huge patronage, not just by cyclists, but regular bevvies of runners who train here, as well as short and long-distance bushwalkers. There is even a new annual trail run that is based around QRT which will now need to be completely reworked this year as a result of this new legislation. To close it for the sake of the use a single party (shooters) at all times seems simply selfish.
3) Even if we grant, purely for argument’s sake, that there is a genuine danger to be anywhere on the aforementioned track, if the range is not being used at all hours of the day, then what benefit can there be by blocking access to QRT at all times?
A small, but significant, portion of nobmobbers consider this to be a vital link of our training, so it is time to take some action. My bi-weekly rides of QRT have given me the climbing legs and endurance to place in many races, and there are many who like me would be devastated if this track were permanently closed, so would like to encourage other users (and anyone who holds an interest) to take steps to counter this. My simple reason for the lack of consultation for the intended closure is the lack of awareness of the vitality of this track to so many people, something which can only be realized if they actually venture down the track on a weekend morning.
If anyone can shed any light more specific details as to a timeline about what’s really going on, that’d be great. I’m going to make an effort to find out more myself by messaging SNORC as well as NPWS, and will post an update when I do so that we can rain down emails to the powers that be.