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Please! Stop riding Bantry Bay Engravings Trail: The selfish few threatening new trails

hawkeye's picture

By hawkeye - Posted on 27 June 2015

These pics were sent through to us showing that people are still using the old engravings trail at Bantry Bay and now a new exit down the fence line by the new estate.

If you are riding this or know people riding here please stop. NPWS has gone to a huge effort and spent a large sum of money to give us the mtb community Serrata and Gahnia trails to replace this trail.

There are our opposition watching us closely how we use the new trails and these acts of riding old trails because I always have doesn't cut it when a new resource has been built to replace one that threatens the local aboriginal rock art.

Continued use of these trails is likely to damage the ability to get trails built here and other parts of the state. This is a pilot study so please think with your head and ride the legal trails.

Please note multiple cameras are set up and footage has been taken and used.

We haven't worked for the last seven years for these trails to have it taken away due to the action of the selfish few.

jp's picture

Good post Hawkeye. Every time a mountain biker breaks the rules, the story is told a hundred times over by our opponents, and each time the story gets worse. The last thing we need is to be giving ammunition to those who campaign against trails.

TheOneRing's picture

Surely in an era of Strava, all of the offenders have posted their names online?

hawkeye's picture

Noone that dumb, it seems. Unless you can post me a link to the segment?

Couldn't find a segment for it on strava

My google-fu has failed me

GarethP's picture

I have ridden this trail but not since the new ones were put in.

hawkeye's picture

Thanks Gareth, found it just after you posted this Smiling

davo29er's picture

I think the problem has nothing to do with being selfish. Some people are just oblivious to the world around them. They don't read signs or the papers they possibly have no idea that they are potentially damaging a part of our history. They probably have no clue that they are riding on or near these rock art examples. Regrettably I don't have an answer on how to stop them but I'm confident that the relavant authourities do.
However looking up strava to see who may have done the wrong thing? What next? Taking photos of every car with an obscured licence plate because of their bikes and send that in to the constabulary? How about name and shame those that dumb down trails as well?
Then the indignation of some people about riding on illegal trails when they themselves ride on illegal trails AND put it on strava... come on.

Mountain biking is meant to be fun, not a calling.

hawkeye's picture

The signs are pretty obvious.

That said, the trail needs to be rehabilitated *properly*, per IMBA guidelines, which hasn't happened. So this news about riders ignoring the closure doesn't surprise. Putting a sign up and leaving a rideable trail in place is just inviting non-compliance. The closed trail needs to be obliterated. No sign of it having existed.

I'm glad to see this has been done with the new bit of trailworks near the hydro lab at Manly Dam. The old entrance has been taped off, the ground dug up so plants can take root, and covered in brush and hazard tape. First time I've seen it done properly, actually.

Strava provides an opportunity to reach out to people to let them know about the consequences their thoughtlessness is creating. If that doesn't work, then yeah maybe naming and shaming is appropriate? I'm open to guidance on that.

Regardless, would you rather riders police themselves, or have some sort of official response? I know which I'd prefer.

jbsp1's picture

With the 'authorities' leaving this track accessible what do they think is going to happen. It's one of the best trails in the area. So if you dangle the carrot, it's going to happen! If they are serious they would block the trail....not just with fallen trees, but with permanent fixtures/ structures. The carvings are not in danger with this trail, riders ride this trail for the quality of it, in no way are they at any point going even close to the engravings. As said above, how is it ok to bulldoze bushland for housing but not ride a trail......oh that's!

MC's picture

There's 58 Strava users alone ridden it this month (June) when we've lost a lot of days due to rain.

Add in the non-Strava users or those that turn it off to not shame themselves and its still getting a LOT of traffic. A few names that shouldn't be there too...

MarcT's picture

What I dont understand is what kind of issue this trail is causing so would someone might to explain? I also dont understand what issue Austrian Enduro is causing either. None of these trails are going over engraved rocks, they are just close by, like Wakehurst Parkway is close by as well. I'm honest here, I really dont understand what is happening. I dont even see Aborigines around or is that stupid too assume? I'm from Europe so not that familiar with the Australian culture but do they have gatherings and these kind of things that we would disturb with riding these trails? Isnt walking on these rocks way more disrespectful than riding close to them?

Simon's picture

The whole rock shelf where there are carvings is sacred.

Riding our bikes over it is seen as disrespectful. When I've visited with aboriginal people we have taken our shoes off on the platform before walking on it.

Austrian Enduro while fun isn't without issues longer term. Could they be fixed? Maybe.

The approved plan NPWS is working towards requires the new tracks Daisy Duke (up track) and the Mistress (down track) which were to be completed by council. Due to the NSW way of things and all this being planned for years NPWS has to use their budget while its still available to shut these trails before Council has budget to create the new ones. So much easier in Victoria where one land manager can do it all.

The argument about how can you bulldoze bush for houses, roads and hospitals but not clear some under growth for bike trails is very valid. It has been done for walking tracks.

The reason is that all levels of government haven't been able to justify that the social, health and economic benefits are worth the small impact of a bike trail at sufficient scale to solve the problem. TrailCare has just presented a business case on this recently which soon we will be asking for people to write to MP's to support. We have shown the health benefits alone are 4-6 times higher than the build and maintenance costs for something of the scale of the unofficial network.

The issue for riding as it has been globally is that it is 'new' and not more than 20-40 years old depending on how you define it. Riding has had to start on unofficial trails until numbers hit critical mass. Once this happens government can justify creating official networks. Some of our opposition seems to think we should have all bought bikes, and then about 300 of us got together to ask someone to build a track. Then after a few years of planning start riding. The reality is this is not how it happens and as with the rest of the globe we started off using 4wd tracks, walking and survey tracks plus some user built stuff.

In Sydney however, since we have so much bush, its flown under the critical mass radar for a very long time, strong NIMBY anti lobbying from people claiming to be greenies etc hasn't helped and instead we have seen it grow to a massive size without resolution, too big for a few tracks at Bantry. TrailCare has data for 9400 individual riders who last year logged 5,200,000km on Strava. Critical mass has now finally been not only achieved, but measured. This critical mass and km ridden is the start of our business case.

laurie bimson's picture

You need to do one of my coultual tours to understand what those carvings are about

kitttheknightrider's picture

I would suggest that the public profiles on strava is but the tip of the iceburg, the difficulty is how do you measure the silent majority. The masses that, like myself, don't feel the need to publicly share our data.

Again, thank you for your many hours of work on our behalf.

Simon's picture

Totally agree with you.

The good news is we didn't need to. As a result our business case was ultra conservative and it still stacks up very well anyway. This is perfect for getting government interest. Eg:

-Under estimating user numbers and km ridden by only counting Strava

-Over estimating build and maintenance costs.

We deliberately set it up so any criticism of it only makes it stronger. It works on health only in northern Sydney using NSW State Government economic factors:

-ignored $7million pa in bike maintenance etc from these Strava users based on a 2008 NobMob survey
-ignored $20million pa in tourism benefits for this sort of network. We did note we had visitor mountain bikers from 32 different countries in the last 12 months and visitors from all other States.

Thanks for the thanks! Its our only pay cheque other thsn happy faces.'s picture

Laurie touches on an important point.

Most riders are well aware that there are carvings and areas of cultural significance around the areas we ride on the Northern Beaches. However, I'm pretty sure that hardly any actually understand what that actually means. I certainly don't.

People get pretty caught up in the whole "angry at MLALC for closing trails but bulldozing for development" argument. But that misses the point.

Truth is, the significance isn't really to MLALC as an organisation. The significance is to people like Laurie, who are connected to the lands in question. We should probably all find the time to slow down and listen to what he has to say, rather than just being angry about how the organisation has carried on at various times.

Sign me up.

MarcT's picture

Great discussion going on here and I agree that education is the key. Just telling people to stay off without having them understand the reasons behind it, will have them come back in the next second. But and thats a big but the government has to understand that closing down trails without giving alternatives is just a very bad thing to do. How are people supposed to link Gahnia to Serrata now e.g.? Building two trails so close together and then closing down the unofficial link is just dumb. This will make people go back to building their own illegal trails.'s picture

Truth is, not all informal trails are created equal.

Remember, pretty much all of the Manly Dam singletrack was, at one point, an "informal trail". Some informal trails are suitable to be kept and perhaps formalised, others are not. This can be due to differences in planning, or just "dumb luck".

We all rely on informal trails, and the people who spend their time working on them are, generally speaking, getting smarter over time. If an informal trailbuilder in 2015 can't deliver a better final product than what was appearing 10-15 years ago, I'd suggest they find a different past-time.

hawkeye's picture

Some recent informal trails have been good, others are shockers. The section built on the western side of Wakehurst Parkway is very good and continues to improve.

Whoever hacked the trail into Manly Dam to connect up with the walking track is clueless and should be ashamed, both for crossing the boundary into the park, and for the appalling downslope lines chosen. No frigging idea about the impact of water flow. It will be an erosion mess in a few years if it continues to get used. Fortunately it doesn't seem to be getting much use as it doesn't end up anywhere very rideable.

The distinct lack of flow, difficulty of some of the short climbs and the more foot-friendly nature suggests to me a trail runner may have been responsible.

hank's picture

My thoughts exactly - I decided to explore that shite new track into the Dam and it's unridable, I presumed it must be trail runners trying to avoid running down the road.

Flynny's picture

Big call, matt-is-stoked. Some of the informal trails I rode 15-20 years ago are up there in my favorites list and still going strong with freak all maintenance done on them... Just saying is all

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