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National Parks and tourism

Flynny's picture

By Flynny - Posted on 25 June 2008

Based on the call for comment Rob posted here

Below is my submission

The Secretary
Task Force on Tourism and National Parks
GPO Box 7050
Sydney 2001

Dear Sir

As a keen park visitor and avid cyclist I read with interest the
recent report into park usage and am pleased a task force has been set
up to help encourage an increase in sustainable tourism use.

A major limit to my visitation, and that of many other cyclists, is
the severely restricted access of cycling on trails with in National

Cycle tourism is on the rise and has proven to be a real boon in
several overseas situations. There are many models out there that
demonstrate how sustainable management of cycling can increase both
visitation and user satisfaction and appreciation of the area. These
includie those found in Forest Wales, The Seven Stanes network
Scotland, Whislter Mountain Bike park Canada and The department of
Conservation New Zealand.

The Cycling Promotion Fund states, "... a record 1.47 million bicycles
sold in 2007... Cycling has become the 4th most popular physical
activity with more than 1.6 million Australian adults cycling in 2006,
an increase of 17% from 2001." Further more, Retail Cycle Traders
Australia statistics show that 1998-2005 70% of all bike
sales were mountain bikes.

However cycling access to parks is severely limited by current DECC
policy which restricts access to fire road and management trails and
banning it from Single Trail (deemed walking trails) unless
specifically approved in a parks Plan of Management.

With a negative emphasis on allowing cycling access to single track
coming from the over riding policy this means park managers are
generally not inclined to break from the normal and grant single track
access in their parks plan.

The vast body of scientific evidence found in studies, both over seas
and from Australia points to the fact that there is little difference
in the environmental impacts of cycling and walking so I can see no
reason why appropriate single trails could not be openned up to
cycling within National Parks.

Few bush walkers would enjoy strolling along a straight fire trail, so
too mountain bikers.

Falling into a similar demographic as other nature based
recreationalists including walkers, the average mountain biker is
looking for a nature escape where the joy journey is far more
important than the destination and a flowing single trail in beautiful
surrounds is their holy grail.

I truly believe opening up appropriate single trails to sustainable
recreational cycling would be a big step in the right direction for
increasing tourist visitation and increase park use.

Yours Sincerely

Craig Flynn
Central Tablelands Mountain Bike Club

GAZZA's picture

think you got it all covered there mate.

Hans's picture

Re any campaigns etc to government departments, ministers etc

RECOMMENDATION: Put all submissions as HARD COPY (i.e. letter).

They need to be registered as incoming mail at the department & answered by the public servants (i.e. a traceable paper trail exists)

Emails mean nothing (i.e. are non-traceable amongst junk mail) and often just get ...DELETED

Old fashioned snail mail works best in this old fashioned environment.


Rob's picture

Although what Hans says about paper is good when you aren't specifically replying to a request for submission, but in this case I think email is fine.

It does say that all submissions will be available on the public record. You can always check they actually recorded your submission and see if there is any foul play. Or turn on email receipt notification if you like.

Edit: Although all that said, better safe than sorry. Thinking about this, if you have the time best to print and mail a hardcopy in. Even better, do both! Smiling

Little-Ditty's picture

Here's my submission:


Dear Sir,

I have just been informed by some friends about the call for submissions to identify ways to increase visitation to NSW national parks and reserves by 20% by the year 2016. This sounds like a great initiative and one that is well overdue. Thank you for this opportunity.

I am an avid mountain bike rider, and would usually be found riding my mountain bike every weekend around the inner or outer Sydney areas. Much of this is in national parks located close to Sydney, like the Garigal, Blue Mountains and Royal national parks to name just a few. Although, I have travelled to national parks all over NSW and the ACT in the past. Therefore I would consider myself a regular user of national parks.

One way I believe you could easily increase usage of national parks would be to reduce or eliminate the current restrictions placed upon mountain bikes within the parks. More specifically, removing the current restriction on riding any of the single trails that exist within parks. These seem to only be allowed for walkers. At the moment, most national parks and reserves ask for mountain bike riders to use the fire roads that have been cut by either NPWS or the fire service. This is such a shame, as the single trails (similar to or interchangeable as a walking trail) are by far the most fun and rewarding when out enjoying yourself in "our" parks.

The reasoning behind this restriction system seems to mainly be to ensure national parks and reserves are not adversely impacted by the over-use of mountain bikes, and the safety of walkers when in close contact with mountain bikes. This system does not make a lot of sense in my opinion.

Many overseas studies have shown that mountain bikes have a minimal impact on these trails, especially when properly maintained either by government departments, the cyclists themselves, or in conjunction with one another. Some excellent examples are to be found in many parts of Europe, the US, Canada, and New Zealand. Even some local examples in Tasmania can show us the proper way to do it. Many cyclists would be more than delighted to help the government establish sensible and sustainable off-road trails within national parks, and also volunteer their time to help you maintain them. After all, we are the ones wishing to use the trails anyway. Simply signpost these trails as such and there can be no objections by the trail users. I believe there would be literally hundreds of willing participants that would help you in the Sydney region alone. Why not give it a go? It costs you nothing, and will certainly provide you the increase in visitation that you are seeking.

In case the government was not aware, cycling is a growth sport, and has been increasing in popularity each year for many years. To show it's growth potential, cycling was the 4th highest participated physical recreational activity in 2005-06 behind walking, aerobics and swimming. There are now more bicycles sold in Australia every year than cars. Given cycling is such a growth sport, why not get involved at the outset rather than waiting? I would hope that you can see the potential for this sport within our national parks.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to express my interest in this submission, and I look forward to hearing about the results.

Liam Linstid

delicious's picture

Dear Madam and/or Sir
Please accept this letter as my submission to your invitation to give my thoughts on increasing use within NSW national parks.
I am a cyclist. And a keen one. I am a good example of the growing section of the NSW and indeed the Australian community in that I have chosen the humble bicycle as my preferred form of transport and recreation.
I am a keen user of NSW national parks and state forests and I have an all parks pass affixed to my car. I drive infrequently however I do enjoy using park facilities and therefore am most happy to pay a subscription.
In paying a subscription annually I would like to see a greater commitment to the creation of cyclist friendly and indeed dedicated trails for those of the off road persuasion.
There is an awful lot of land out there and it is simply doing nothing. The creation of trails doesn't mean to roll in the bulldozers. Nor to trees have to be cut down. In fact there are many naturally occurring trails that simply have to opened.
I can hear your questions. Who will pay and maintain? I can promise that there are a gazillion riders out there waiting for the call to come and chip in. Funds? A parks pass as I already require to ride at Thredbo each summer. Build it and they will come.
Bikes aren't the environmental disaster that the naysayers would have has believe. Most riders avoid riding when wet to prevent chopping up the trails. Having said that there are methods to weatherproof and toughen a trail.
What about conflict with other park users? I'm the first to say that the trails are there to share however there must be a certain amount of common sense. It's true that a lot of riders enjoy a high dose of velocity and a bunch of little kids having a tea party in a bad spot is a recipe for disaster. And spilled tea. Once again I point out that there is so much bushland under RNPWS control that all users can be somehow segregated,provided with their own areas.
There are expert trail builders out there who can create a trail network that would keep most punters happy. And it be a good move by any government department to be seen encouraging a growth sport and a physical activity. The ACT government seems keen to put trails in several working forests. But I choose to live in Sydney so local parks would be a better place to go and ride.
The invitation for submissions is a good idea.Thank you for the oppurtunity.
Peter Gibson

Flynny's picture

Come on Peeps

our inside source tells us that only 10 submissions have been received so far.
5 of those have been from mountain bikers so get typing we have a real chance to make a difference

dez_b's picture

I have sent two separate letters already , all you guys spend soooo much time on this site gas bagging about all kinds of inane dumb stuff , if you are that good at typing WRITE A BLOODY LETTER and send it in !!!!!
This is for your benefit

or loose it!

CB's picture

Hard to find a different way to say the same thing, the letters above are all excellent.

I spent too much time thinking about what I was going to write instead of just writing something.... so thanks to dez_b for the motivational speech.

My letter ( sent by snail mail and email)

The Secretary
Task Force on Tourism and National Parks
GPO Box 7050
Sydney 2001

Dear Sir

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to your call for submissions regarding potential options for increasing recreational access to national parks.

I am a resident of Sydney’s Northern Beaches but hail originally from the West coast of Scotland. With the exception of a number of years in London, I have been lucky to live in cities with easy access to areas of great natural beauty, indeed it was a significant factor in deciding to move to Sydney.

I visit national parks, state forests and other area of bushland fairly frequently and for a number of recreational purposes. The vast majority of these visits are to partake in my favourite recreational pastime, mountain biking.

At present, mountain bike access to national parks is limited to fire trails and some management trails. While this is greatly appreciated, there appears to be a significant opportunity to benefit from increasing access and recreational opportunities for mountain biking.

There are many examples worldwide of cases where mountain bike friendly trails and nature conservation are complementary. With foresight and some careful planning, it is possible to create trail networks which are suitable for a wide range of users including mountain bikers, walkers, horse riders etc. If done properly this can be achieved in a way which both environmentally sustainable and requires very little maintenance. Mountain bikers are typically very keen to volunteer to help maintain tracks !. ( for what it’s worth, most of the mountain bikers I know are 30 – 50, professional, married with kids and have a keen sense of environmental responsibility…) One of the most compelling ways to increase environmental awareness is to increase access and exposure to the beauty of the environment. Otherwise it can seem too abstract and removed to be bothered caring about.

As I’m sure you are aware, mountain biking is an increasingly popular pastime. A significant majority of new bikes sold in Australia are mountain bikes and given that more bicycles are now sold per year than cars, more and more people will be discovering the joy of getting out into our beautiful bushland.

It is worth noting that when desired, well designed trails can attract significant amounts of people to a particular area. Mountain bikers typically ride all year round, are prepared to travel to good riding areas and will happily stay around for a couple of days. This can bring significant economic benefits to nearby towns as mountain bikers need places to eat, sleep and stock up on provisions. A significant example of this can be seen in the South of Scotland where a number of mountain bike trail centres were opened specifically to counteract the economic hardship felt by rural communities in the wake of a recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. These trail centres are commonly referred to as the ‘Seven Stanes’ and have been hugely popular. A recent study has shown that the local ( previously struggling) economy has been boosted by mountain bike generated revenue to the tune of 9 million pounds per year! This is in addition to the 200 jobs created in the process. The Seven Stanes are now among the top 20 tourist destinations in Scotland ( a country not short of a tourist destination or twenty…)The clear message would appear to be ‘ if you build it, they will come’

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge regarding protection of our environment will understand that to be successful, we must aim for the ‘ triple bottom line’. Social sustainability, Economic sustainability and Environmental sustainability.

In proposing that you increase access to national parks for mountain bikers, I would argue that the benefits to society of a healthier, happier, fitter populace are self evident. The economic benefits could be substantial and, if planned correctly, the environmental impact could be significantly positive rather than negative.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to make a submission on a topic so close to my heart.

Yours truly,

dez_b's picture

Good effort and good to hear from an international perspective
now where are the rest of them ???????????????????????????????????
come on NOBS apparently close to a thousand of you lurking out there in cyberspace you need to get your letters in quickly
before submissions close.

Paul's picture

I've just sent off my submission. Lets keep the momentum going it's not somebody elses problem.

Alex's picture

who you saying is talking about dumb stuff banana man? Eye-wink yeh im on it too..

Noel's picture

The Secretary
Taskforce on Tourism and National Parks
GPO Box 7050
Sydney 2001

Dear Secretary

To increase usage of National Parks:
-Please review current fire trails with a view to reducing the 'dead end' type trails and creating more 'loops'. Loops are more interesting for people to follow than walking out to a dead end and then coming back.
-Please link up the ends of fire trails with existing civilisation where possible to further reduce 'dead ends'.
-Please reduce the maximum grade used on fire trails to promote a wider range of access for people. This is achieved by following the contour lines more when approaching a creek rather than having such significant fluctuations in altitude for creek crossings.
-Please encourage councils (especially) and state forests to provide more mountain bike and BMX facilities with a view to relieving pressure on land as a result of illegal trail building.
-Please provide more sustainable single track for the purpose of mountain bike riding.
-Please provide more simple signs indicating what "street" a trail leads to instead of so many large signs that try to ban things.
-Mountain bike riding is continuing to boom so pull the head out of the sand and provide more sustainable trail instead of trying to outlaw it.
-Provide notification on who to report motorbikes to.
-Stop spending so much on four wheeled vehicles and get some mountain bikes.
-Put an e-tag pick-up (and camera) at major park entrances with a phone number displayed for information. We just about all have e-tags and mobile phones these days. Get with the times. We do not need to waste labour sitting in a booth collecting small amounts of cash for a days pay. Get those people out repairing and improving walking and riding trails.
-Please review some of the walking track building processes in place. I see many trails that are examples of poor design and are not sustainable. Too many trails have steps retro fitted to sections that follow the water coarse. The thing to do in this situation is alter the trail so it doe snot follow the water coarse, by changing it's direction and remediating the old section. Instead I see people often install steps that people then walk around because there is room to. If you install H3 or H4 timber steps it is best done with large obstacles on either side so people must use them. Please call me if you would like photos of these examples and some free training (for your people) on how to build a sustainable single track, instead of wasting public funding on installing unnatural (treated) objects that do not work.
-Thanks for havign nice people.I think all your people I encounter are very nice to deal with.



(The X's are not kisses).

Pete_J's picture

Sent in a submission today. Not quite as well written as the rest of you guys but hope it helps!!

kurt's picture

sent in submission
not quite as word smithy as some
but points made clear

dez_b's picture

good effort to those that have contributed, so this thread should end up with HUNDREDS of submissions come on everyone get on it before it closes.
And Alex (aka SHREK 77) "banana man" ooh that hurts buddy (is that the best you can do ?)

Andy Bloot's picture

Thanks for the prompting
Got me off my slack arse
And I've now added my 2 cents to the submissions
So everybody, it doesn't have to be long or eloquent
But it must be done

Harry's picture

Andy can get off his "slack arse" then I guess that doesn't leave any excuses for the rest of us. Just complied and will post mine today.

CB's picture

Just sent the following email to my colleagues... we have a pretty big cycling contingent at work ( a split between mtb and road. You can see a bunch of us on the homepage for this years gong ride...)

Hopefully some more submissions will be forthcoming:

Fat Tyre Friends

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are currently calling for submissions to their taskforce charged with increasing recreational use of National Parks. The NPWS has recently been pretty active in closing down numerous popular mountain bike trails on land they control ( Oxford Falls, Cascades, Bantry Bay etc. are the ones I know of close to me in the Northern Beaches, but the NPWS policy covers all of NSW, I know it is happening elsewhere)

This is an opportunity to write a letter to the NPWS suggesting that they increase access and facilities for mountain bikers in their future planning. We are currently at an interesting crossroads where we have the opportunity to present mountin biking as being part of a solution rather than part of a problem as far as recreational use is concerned.

The call for submissions closes on Monday 21st July. NPWS do not call for these type of submissions often and vary rarely change thier rules or policies. This is as good an opportunity as we are likely to get to influence their policy towards mountain biking

Can I urge you all to have a look at the following thread on the NoBMoB forum ( Northern Beaches Mountain Bikers) and put together a quick letter. It doesn't have to be long winded or overly eloquent.... it's more important that as many submissions as possible are made. The thread shows a number of peoples submissions ( including mine) to help.

It seems likely that the status quo is not going to be maintained and we will have our access either reduced or increased. The only way to make sure it is not reduced is for as many of us as possible to make a submission.

Please write something ( ideally sent by both post and email...... ideally now! )



Alex's picture

yes keep it rolling dez, although im sure with your cannon that will be extremly difficult Eye-wink
aw cmon that was gold!

dez_b's picture

Hay Alex have you heard the talk that SH is leaving Iron Horse to ride for Trek ??
It is the only way they can slow him down Smiling ha ha ha LOL

Flynny's picture

Actually just as I wrote that I get a message saying the closing date had been extended to Friday next week

Rob's picture

Actually, the media release from the ministers states the closing date is now "Friday, August 29", even though the website[1] says "Monday 29 August 2008".

Lucky these people aren't in charge of anything important, like a whole country or something! Eye-wink


pikey's picture

This was my effort!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Secretary
Task Force on Tourism and National Parks
GPO Box 7050
Sydney 2001

Dear Sir

My name is Greg Pike; I live in Belrose and ride my mountain bike with a group of fellow local residents (Northern Beaches Mountain Bike Group). One area we enjoy riding is the beautiful single trails in and around the Garigal National Park. Not only is this area full of beautiful riding/walking trails many with breathtaking water views but it is also within 40 mins of the CBD which is an excellent drawcard for tourists.

Our group has recently noticed signs erected by the NPWS advising to stay out and that these (not all) trails are now closed to motor bikes and mountain bikes with heavy fines involved for trespassing. (Motor bikes I agree with). We note that walkers are still welcome.

We, also, are having trouble getting clarification from the NPWS as to what is happening in this area as we do not want to break any “new” rules. I am getting increasingly concerned about the additional limitations placed on mountain bike access to this and other areas bering in mind that people have been riding these trails for countless years.

Members of our group are regular participants in a local Warringah Council program called “Manly Dam Bike Trail Maintenance Days” and are wondering why we could not have trail maintenance days in the Garigal National Park as well.

We are aware of the Aboriginal rock carvings in the Oxford Falls and Bantry Bay areas of the National Park and enjoy showing new members to our group these carvings whilst riding well clear of them.
Could not fencing or more localised signage be erected both to highlight these carvings as well as protecting them? Locking the gate for all mountain bike access seams extreme especially when we have been riding these trails for years and the new signs don’t appear to stop walkers entering.

The Garigal Nation Park web site has comments stating "accessible areas for the public to enjoy", clearly walkers only, even though it is stated in other publications that walkers can do more damage than mountain bike riders as walkers do stop and smell the roses , pick them, turn over rocks then poo behind them.

The “mountain bikes cause erosion” excuse, we don’t believe is a fair cop either as erosion bars could be installed on single trails and work just as effectively as they do on “official fire access trails”. Just let local groups like ours assist in organising local volunteer trail maintenance days with the NPWS as are organised by the local Warringah Council rangers at the Manly Dam.

We would like the NPWS to understand that mountain bikes and the people that ride them are now part of the future for accessing National Parks and that the NPWS need to work with groups like mountain bike riders & and bush walkers to resolve this stand off as a non satisfactory agreement for ALL will result in never ending aggression.

We enjoy our local Garigal National Park and would like to contribute if possible in working with the NPWS in forming a sustainable access policy that suits all, just as has been accomplished in the Royal National Park.

I thankyou you for this opportunity to lodge my concerns and seek your assistance in helping mountain bike riders (both Locals and Tourists) regain access to these trails.


Greg Pike
(address included)

Don't worry what other people are thinking,
because most of the time their not. Eye-wink

Flynny's picture

as my typing Shocked)

So, they've extended it a month... You could take that as either 1)not enough people have responded or
2) It's all been MTB submissions and they don't like it so are trying to get others to submit alternative views....


CB's picture

I just recieved a reciept from the National Parks taskforce for my submission. Has everyone else who submitted recieved one too?

""August 7th 2008

Dear Mr. Burns,

Thank you for your recent submission concerning the Taskforce for Tourism and National Parks. This letter serves to acknowledge receipt of your submission and to briefly outline the procedure by which it will be considered.

Your submission has been recorded in our register. Following the closing date for submissions on 29 August 2008 it, together with all other submissions received, will be collated against the Terms of Reference. The Taskforce will convene in the forthcoming weeks to discuss all submissions and consider the suggestions and comments made in making its recommendations.

All submissions received by the Taskforce are a matter of public record and are available for public inspection upon written request to the Taskforce Secretary via email to or via mail to GPO Box 7050, Sydney NSW 2001.

Thank you again for your contribution to the Taskforce for Tourism and National Parks.

Yours sincerely,

John Bates

for The Secretary
Taskforce for Tourism & National Parks""

Rob's picture

Yup - one in the email and one in the post. Oddly the one in the post came before the email. Puzzled

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