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Bantry Bay Serrata Track is Now Open. Stick to the Forestville side only please!

Rob's picture

By Rob - Posted on 27 November 2014

Great news for local riders! The new Serrata Track at Bantry Bay can now be ridden... on the Forestville side only please!

All trail work is complete and signage installed.

Please stay out of Gahnia on the Wakehurst Parkway side which is still under construction with more raised platform to be installed to get over highly sensitive sites.

Both tracks are due for ribbon cutting ceremony early next year by key government officials whom have supported this.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this happen. This track represents many years of lobbying and hard work by a lot of people.

More discussion in the forum here:

Chitts's picture

....and just a word of warning, it is a great track, but in my opinion, it is pretty technical for a CROSS COUNTRY track and there are plenty of places where "Mr/Mrs Average" can get hurt, so take it easy on the first run.

Enjoy and thanks to all involved!!

ido09s's picture

In comparison to some of the more technical sections at Manly Dam how would it compare?

bmar560's picture

It's more technical than the Dam, going downhill most of it, lots of ass behind the seat action as there are a number of roll downs and tight corner maneuvers. My right shin ate my pedal after almost going OTB on the last steep bit on the first lap yesterday and had a dabble on the 2nd lap. Those with long travel bikes will love it.

Once you get to the bottom it's a nice flowy singletrack all the way to the end with nothing too hard.

Chitts's picture

....but disagree that extra travel is needed as one of our guys was on a hardtail 29er and was as fast. Everything rolls, and there is no real "air" opportunities but as mentioned there are some tight corners and awkwardly/dangerously placed rocks which could cause a lot of pain.

Make no mistake, it is a lot of fun, a great trail, and a much needed addition, but you need to be a competent rider.

BIGnige's picture

Having ridden this a few times now I would say it's way more techy than the Dam.You need to have your wits about you from top to bottom and there are plenty of places you could make a mess of it. Even though it's downhill you need to be on the pedal most of the way as there are numerous rocks and other obstacles to deal with. Particularly watch out near the start of the track where one of the rock steps down put's your front wheel right into the face of another step up....very easy to go otb if you catch it wrong. This isn't a place that need huge travel but plush suspension won't hurt. A great addition to the area but probably slightly generous rating it a blue. Bloody good work Trailscape peeps. Can't wait for the other side to be open.

gustfront's picture

Nice track but not for the faint hearted. Plenty of places to come unstuck. First 1/3 is steep downhill, twisty and technical, the rest is flat or slight climb and easy riding.

StanTheMan's picture

Its a great track. the techy bits make it real fun and a great addition to the dam loupe once the full loupe is completed. It is exactly what the main loupe of the Dam is missing.

can't really compare it to OMV. its just a awesome little techy section.

Awesome. Yes I did a OTB in the exact spot one of the posters described above.

Warthog's picture

A great track and thanks to all involved - I think they got the difficulty level spot on (but not the rating though). The easier the trail the quicker boredom strikes - don't think we are going to have any issues with that on this trail.

BT's picture

I'll be trying it tomorrow, but aren't there a few different line choices to be had on most of the techy stuff?

BIGnige's picture

Yeah there's a few alternatives BT but I think we're all talking about the easiest lines right now

BT's picture

haha fair enough. Will make sure I do a proper reccy run before committing to anything!

comm's picture

If anyone is going there, could you pls take a pic of some of the techy stuff?

gustfront's picture

There is one drop that I couldn't ride. No B line that I could see and it's treacherous to walk down as well in XC shoes as it's smooth near vertical rock. This bit I am talking of in immediately below the photo in Flow mag that has two guys taking two different lines. Both these lines converge into a steep rock drop.

Some other sections had multiple lines and were not much trouble.

andyfev's picture

Super stoked and very appreciative to have these trails on our doorstep. I'll be heading to check things out one day this weekend. The reports of it being techy are bringing big smiles and I haven't even ridden it yet Eye-wink

BIGnige's picture

Will be posting some YouTube footage tomorrow...will stick a link here

Terra's picture

Rode it today...
It's great.
A bit 'sniggly'... If that is a word. Technical in that it requires accuracy because it is tight/twisty and there is potential for damage. The only real drama was the steep double rollover. The rest is quite demanding but fun.

It will improve as rain/riders pack in the loose surface.

The first portion is more technical and kind if feels a bit like the trail builders were really showcasing their abilities in creating many trail features The latter section is more flowing.

Great fun. Thanks all involved!

Simon's picture

Rode it last night!

Massive smile on my face. Nice to finally see the result of nearly 8 years of advocacy.

It's techy enough but accessible enough too. On our first inspection with NPWS we got them to put in some b-lines, especially at the double roll down. Let me know if there is anything else.

I found it really fun on a 80mm travel DJ hard tail which I also take around OMV. The A-lines were fine with a few drops and pulling up of front wheel.

Please don't forget to send thanks to:

Premier Mike Baird has given this massive support since 2008.

so has the current Environment Minister Rob Stokes

And the entire National Parks team:

Please don't ask questions in email as your thank you will create lots of work for the public servants. Thanks is the best thanks.

If you want to thank Rob from NobMob, I'm sure he'd appreciate it as would my crew at TrailCare on facebook. It's been countless meetings, managing rider attitudes and getting everyone saying the same thing to land managers, winning over key greenies, showing riders aren't just a bunch of misfit teenagers, battling some paid lobbyists...,

MarcT's picture

Finally a trail on the beaches where I didnt feel out of place wearing knee pads and felt like having a beer after I've completed it at 7.45am in the morning...didnt have one though, none were found in the car.

I rode it this morning and was probably the first one at 6am which made it even better. I've collected the spiderwebs for you guys and lost count of kangaroos that were riding with me. I rode three laps and loved it. The second one was my favourite while feeling the not having breakfast on the third. As the others already said, its very technical in parts and seperates the men from the boys. There arent any second guesses so take it slow on your first run and learn to let your front brake let loose. Braking is a skill that really needs to be mastered on this one. Its slow, not flowy at first but you'll learn to ride it with more flow with every repeat. Just remember to take it easy on the brakes and especially your front one on the roll downs/drop offs or however you want to ride them. Drop your post before you drop in as you will need all your body parts to dance around and to get your ass scratching your rear tire soon enough. And yep its a good idea to wear protection on this one, at least knee pads. Remember that if theres something that stops you, this something will be very possibly a men sized rock. I also hope you know how to handle your 800mm bars as there may be a tree or two that proves you better. It's much fun for the experienced rider and I was able to find new lines on every loop. For the less experienced just take it easy, dont feel ashamed to walk a section and keep your front brake in mind. You will soon learn to ride the whole thing and having fun doing it. Thanks to the builders, a trail like this was much needed for the beaches. I really like riding the Dam but this thing adds a new dimension that makes me want to ride even more. Thanks for that, its very much appreciated and if there will be any trail care days I'm in. I just need to make sure theres beer in the car the next time.

MC's picture

I went down and did 4 laps yesterday afternoon and it's fantastic. Fun and tricky parts from start to finish. Was a pleasant surprise but a bit of a shock to see how technical it is. I certainly had to readjust the mindset as soon as I dropped in. The blue rating and all the local XC style rides lull you into a false sense of security which evaporates pretty quickly as you come into the first drops. It certainly a different world from the Dam

I'm a bit undecided about the "shinbreaker" rock that has been mentioned elsewhere. It's a nice tricky feature and easy enough for skilled riders but it looks nasty if you muck the line up and there's not a lot of room for error. Judging by the scarring on the rock already, it looks like it has caught a lot of pedals in just a few days.

Hasn't been enought traffic to scare away the local wildlife either. On the first lap I saw a fox, an echidna, a wallaby and a diamond Python!

Awesome work by the Trailscapes guys and can only hope the east side is as nice.

HubertWagner's picture

Thanks for a great new track, I took several photos:


ahein's picture

To everyone involved in this track from NPWS, local government, the lobbyers that work so hard for so long to get this track approved and the trail builders a massive thank you.

I rode this track today for the first time and it is an awesome piece of trail and a great bit of infrastructure for the Northern beaches.

Once again a massive thank you, you definitely put a smile on my face today Smiling

Dicko's picture


Rode the track the first time this morning. Great addition to the established tracks on the northern beaches.

Pretty unique and not for the faint hearted.

Well done to NPWS and to all involved in making this a reality.


andyfev's picture

Awesome little trail. Really appreciate everyones hard work and dedication in getting this trail approved and built. The northern beaches area is back on the MTB map!

I did five laps this morning and grew in confidence each lap tackling different lines I'd seen on previous runs. The track is over pretty quickly with a meaty enough fire road climb back to the top. This track will definitely force riders to ride to their ability and those unsure of their ability need to be careful. Smart line choice is crucial. The trail will sort the experienced from the inexperienced riders.

Main thing I learnt is that I'm in desperate need of a dropper post... or maybe the whole hog and get a trail bike Eye-wink

Many thanks once again, can't wait for the next instalment...

hawkeye's picture

Rode it (or should I say walked it) today. It will take me a few goes before I'm able to ride it without dabbing. Will be a great little skills tester.

All the lines are rollable. And I reckon a you can get away without a dropper post. It's just that the price of mistakes is, erm, non-trivial. Smiling

It's going to take me awhile to figure it out, and I need to work on a few things but that's a good thing for me. And I'm echoing the thoughts of Andy re: a trail bike.

Interestingly, I found the filter at the start to be very easy compared to the rest of the track.

andyfev's picture

@Hawkeye, completely agree about the filter section it really doesn't prepare for what is ahead! I did, however, pluck up enough courage to ride the far left line (right next to the big information sign) at the very start that jumps you onto the trail Eye-wink The trail is all about confidence and becoming a better "gravity" rider.

Vermi's picture

I gave this a go today having heard it was open.
Really nicely built trail, you can see the effort which has gone into it, so great work from all the team involved!

I am disappointed I will never get to ride there when it is all finished (I'm relocating back to UK next week, for good), as it is very short with just the Serrata section. My first time was around 6 minutes I think, of which the first 2 or 3 minutes are the best - and nicely suit an enduro style trail bike. It was only my first ride but it is really different to anything at the Dam and OMV, super technical and twisty with heavy use of the brakes and careful line choice, maybe more laps would start making it flow a bit more for me and speed it up as I was frustrated with how slow I was going! Ha.

The lower section is really XC style (wide bars are a challenge through some areas and I nearly came a cropper once or twice), lots of pedalling, mostly flat with a few rocks to get over.

Then it's a bit of a slog on the fire road to get back to the start. I didn't go there in the best mood having come straight form the beach where I had a crappy surf, so maybe my mindset was a bit wrong, I'd heard a lot of hype so I thought I'd get an hour or two of riding out of it. I just did it the once though. Unfortunately with only 4 days left before i pack my bike up and post it home, I won't be going back there. It's about 15 minutes drive from my place in Narrabeen and it was too short to justify that when I work right next to OMV and can go there straight from work. I'm sure the extra section will make it an awesome destination down the line, and hopefully it's is a taste of what's to come! Maybe I'll come back in a few years and get to try it all out.

I had a camera on so here's my footage, you can see I was a bit apprehensive as it was all new to me and didn't know the lines,

BT's picture

Had a lot of fun on the track on Saturday. Took the first lap really easy, getting off and checking the lines. Then on the 2nd lap was pretty confident and rode it with a good amount of flow. Was good to be riding with some guys that know their stuff too, so that inspired confidence.

I don't think there's anything too tricky about the track once you know your lines. I was a bit loose on some of the hairpins from the amount of traffic, so hopefully that will settle down in time. Might need to change my brake pads also. Smiling

TheOneRing's picture

Makes nice use of the natural features without feeling too constructed and super happy that it has been built with technical features and multiple line choices.

Well done guys!

Only problem is that the fun is over too soon. Hoping that the other tracks under construction are being built to the same standard.

Simon's picture

The next section to open is different again.

Gahnia is intended to be slightly more technical than Serrata, a rock chute with small natural wall rides is the starting filter.

This is followed by flow with small technical balancy climbs and sections of off camber rock and an overall descending track but perhaps less gravity orientated than Seratta.

We requested a few b-lines to be put into Seratta to make it more accessible to a wider range of riders when we inspected it with NPWS during construction. From the videos these seem to be well used. It still ended up a bit more technical than originally planned but that's the nature of the terrain.

A beginner track would have required a much bigger environmental footprint in this sort of terrain and cost more to construct. Beginner tracks are also harder to attract volunteers for maintenance.

TheOneRing's picture

Looking forward to the new trails. Finally a reason to start riding this area more regularly again.

Seratta reminded me a little of the trail (now closed) that was across the road from the top of the Manly Dam descent to the creek. It flowed very well with the terrain. Are there any plans to reopen access to that trail?

StanTheMan's picture

Manly Dam is a massive beginners track. innit?

Simon's picture

TheOneRing, the trail I think you mean accessed the rock shelf with the carvings. The whole area is protected with fines of up to $500,000 and will not reopen. Neither will the link to Forestville Park which ran right over carvings.

Instead we get two new longer tracks.

bikemad's picture

at about 1pm,very nice trail.Was totally dry,actually probably rode better given the rain,Expected it to be abit sketchy given the comments on here.half a dozen laps and i think you could launch some of the rock features but we took it slow on our first lap.My missus rode it with me on a 100mm travel bike and rode the whole trail without getting off on our second lap.saw a wallaby and a lyrebird which was cool,dont see lyre birds to often.

danielschipper's picture

It's a pretty techie trail for a "built by authority" trail. I'll be the first to give stick about silly things like not opening until the signs are up but they haven't held back on the features.

It certainly requires a level of skill well above beginner and with the other trails going in, including the unofficial trails, I think we'll see a levelling up of the Northern Beach's MTB crew.

Personally I can't wait until my girls grow up and I can get them out on the trails! Future world champions with this in their backyard I tell you Smiling

Sinkes's picture

What a great trail! One to keep you honest.


When are they looking at opening the other trail.

Exciting times!

Lach's picture

... a good track which well reflects the challenges of riding in Sydney sandstone environs. For my money though it's graded a bit low. I'd rate it at black diamond because of the difficulty of the descent. Surprisingly techy for a first foray into mtb tracks by the NPWS here.

Matt P's picture

I only put one lap in at Serrata last weekend but I think that it's rating is fine. Blue for the first 1/3 then green for the rest. It's not within a country mile of Black Diamond!

Edit: I think that NPWS needs to have tough technical trails to cater to the more advanced riders. If I'm honest, I felt a little underwhelmed by the trail and wouldn't bother returning. For challenging trails I ride Red Hill, Bunnings, St Ives or some of the others. As I see it, if legally sanctioned trails don't cater to a very broad range of riders, experienced riders who are motivated (and often very skilled) trail builders will look elsewhere to continue pushing their limits. This then continues the issue of more illegal trails in NPs as people search for things to keep them challenged.

I don't want to seem ungrateful but 300m of moderately technical riding followed by simple singletrack for another km or so has limited scope as I think riders will become bored (unless there is a well established program to not just maintain but allow for ongoing upgrades to obstacles, features etc). I think that Manly Dam is a good example of this. There are several "extra curricular" tracks on the outskirts which to me suggests that the main trail was no longer enjoyable enough by itself. And MD is what, 9km? Golden Jubilee is another. I believe this is now falling into disrepair due to lack of use because it only holds attention for a few visits.

I acknowledge that maybe there was a LOT of limitation with terrain, funds, access to suitable land (ecologically and culturally) and such but I would hate to see all the effort and hard work not contribute greatly to the, presumably, reduction of illegal trails in NPs due to wide target audience not being addressed.

For my understanding, are these trails at BB meant to be 'test' trails as a part of a bigger overall plan (eg Bare Creek) or are they intended to be standalone trails to offer an extension to Manly Dam?

Simon's picture

These trails are a test case and NPWS are well aware of the need to cater for trails above intermediate level to resolve unofficial trails.

This is the reason we pushed and succeeded into at least getting All Mountain included in their 2011 Sustainable Mountain Bike Strategy for within National Parks.

I am excited and grateful for Seratta and Gahnia which for some is already challenging and a step up. It suits many of the Manly Dam crowd but will not do anything for the Red Hill and Bunnings and Ya Mums all mountain riders around Oxford Falls other than a chilled day out. They were located to support a longer ride by linking up to the Dam. Yes, on their own they are not that long and less than 1/3 of riders in Northern Sydney visited Manly Dam at least once in the last 12 months. Most of us ride elsewhere but there are still up to 10,000 individuals that visit the area around the Dam.

It's hit its intended audience of intermediate at the top to green further down in a Sydney context around the beaches. I've been to some trails with black ratings on easier stuff but in a Sydney context and IMBA the features are around intermediate at top but sustained rather than a few scattered features. I think this is making a few people think a bit harder than they might be expecting.

I had fun on Seratta on a DJ hard tail which is also my choice of bike for OMV. For me not much point in more travel but still fun to be had. I take the AM bike where it is needed. My rides are mostly about the funness factor and technical challenge. No interest in race, KOM etc.

Matt P's picture

Brilliant. Thanks for the follow up.

I'm looking forward to what comes next.

MarcT's picture

May I just ask what Bunnings is? And where are the more challenging trails in St Ives?

Lach's picture

... when it comes to mtb skills. I'm also a bit risk averse due to a dodgy knee that can't stand too much in the way of involuntary dismounts without another re-build. But my experience elsewhere is that green means that I can pretty much ride while talking on the phone, blue / intermediate trails are ones that I can ride without having to get off and scope the lines. Black diamond (IMBA = expert) I can ride some of, but usually means that there are features / obstacles that I need to have a good look at before tackling.

I think that Serrata is definitely not double black diamond (IMBA = extreme), but in my view it has sufficient features to be rated expert. I suppose it will find it's own level of user over time, however.

Simon's picture

Grades are a bit gray and I think IMBA also has some comment on local context.

As riding has progressed to bigger travel bikes, slacker head angles, shorter stems and shorter chain stays more technical terrain has become more accessible to the masses.

We really need a rethink on trail grading as we can run out of categories fast if we call things black too early. Especially in the terrain we have here.

For me personally on my first trip riding in NZ we were stopping at their intermediate gap jumps but perfectly comfortable dropping 6 feet or more off a Sydney sandstone ledge. Again it's a local context thing.

Bike park grades at Whistler are again a step up and BC seems to have black with red outlines to indicate harder than black diamond and red for harder again. The grades are also already more from a big bike context than an XC race bike.

But back to Serrata, I personally think the features are intermediate. Just there is no rest between features unlike some other intermediate trails which are more green with intermediate features scattered through it. The intensity is up there for an intermediate trail. Break it down into segments, session and find the flow.

hawkeye's picture

... where we rode mostly white and blue trails (Rotorua has two levels of intermediate grading, Intermediate and Advanced), I would rate the first third of Serrata as borderline black (Expert).

Partly this is because of the features themselves but also because of the restricted runouts at the bottom of many of the features. Tight entries and exits, off-camber apexes on sandy rock on some of those, not being able to see the landing in a few places until you're committed and, in a couple of spots the drops off the side if you run wide, make it more challenging than vanilla blue rating in my opinion.

I firming in my view the filter could be better reflective of the challenge of later sections, and runouts could have a little more room for error.

Like Lach I'm a bit risk averse these days. Screwing up hurts - a lot. Will definitely be taking some time to session a few of these obstacles on a non-busy day.

Simon's picture

The one thing you mentioned that got me was the blind landings until committed?

Can you let me know where or is this an issue of carrying to much speed? Or not taking a B-line? Intermediate trails can have black A-lines so long as there is an option.

Matt P's picture a blind landing?

An initial scoping run (walk) lets you know what to expect so that on your second run, you can open it up.

I always do this on new tracks or high consequence tracks that I know well. When I rode Oxford Falls regularly, my first run was always gentle as there were frequent changes made to the trail.

hawkeye's picture

A few of the roll-downs you can't see whether they are rollable or have wheel-catchers you need to avoid until you've arrived. Turns out they're pretty much all rollable... if you pick the right line for your speed. But you do need to know the line to take before you arrive or the result can be an "unplanned dismount".

Perhaps the lines will become more obvious as the trail wears in. I'll get more specific data to you Simon after I ride it again.

I agree an initial walk through is always advised with this kind of trail and I agree (and follow) your approach @MattP with high consequence obstacles as well.

I just thought the comparison with what we encountered at Rotorua would be of interest.

Obviously I'm coming at this from the perspective of a rider who rates themselves as "ïntermediate" - good skills in some areas, needs work on others.

Simon's picture

Walk it or take it slow and stop so all landings are checked out before being committed. Being blind to the landing area when already committed should always be avoided without checking the consequences first. Part of riding within own limits and in control.

I'm concerned if people are finding themselves in this situation on this track. If warning is required and having too much speed into a section is catching people out please let me know. Again I stress my above comment.

Edit: Ok, now I know what you mean by landings. I was automatically thinking both wheels off the ground stuff and a little impressed with the line choices that would see enough speed to be airborne on this track and not seeing the landing until already commited.

hawkeye's picture


Yeah, that's correct. I meant "landings" like stairs have landings... the flat bits after obstacles.

andyfev's picture

My tuppence... It appears all of this grading is subjective from our perspectives.. Familiarity and locality is a real big part of how one 'grades' a new trail.

Personally, I wouldn't rate myself as the best technical rider and need plenty of work to be at the standard I'd like to ride but that said I'm also pretty comfortable on the serrata track with my 26in Epic. I would rate it advanced blue for the first third then green/intermeidate blue in parts for the remainder. After 5 laps I was comfortable with line choices and even challenging harder lines including dropping in at the very start of the trail (far left next to main sign post).

In my view if it can be rolled down it isn't black.

MarcT's picture

Rode it again a few times this morning with no one around. Had it all to myself for the 4 laps I did. Its more fun the more often you ride it. First I thought when it opened a few weeks ago that it was lacking flow, that it was a great technical trail but with no real flow. I was wrong, the more you get to know the trail, the more speed you are able to carry through the whole thing and it does have flow. The faster you go the more flow you will discover. Its an awesome little piece of trail and I love it. Where was everyone this morning? Christmas shopping at 6am?
On my way out I met a guy called Steve from Trailcare. They were planning on doing some work and more importantly talk to people to get them involved. Great dude with a great pair of shorts (we were wearing the same Eye-wink ). Good stuff happening there and as I told him already I'm more than happy getting involved in any trail maintenance, trail care days or whatever is needed. Our community needs guys like Steve and all the others behind Trailcare. So thanks for that!

P.S. Met some riders afterwards who were looking for the trail, maybe some signage needed at the entry to the fire road.

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