Everyone wants more parks access!

Rob's picture

By Rob - Posted on 11 June 2008

Here's an interesting article from SMH:


AN INTERNATIONAL airport should be built at Newcastle with a fast train link to Sydney, national parks should be opened for commercial tourism and Sydney should be rebranded as a global tourist destination, says a scathing report on the State Government's handling of tourism since the 2000 Olympics.

It recommended making national parks "available to people willing to pay to sustain and enhance those assets instead of focusing on protecting them from people". It did not specifically recommend commercial development. Rather, it said private tour operators should have access to all areas open to the public.

The chief executive of the National Parks Association, Andrew Cox, said he would "die in a ditch" protecting national parks from commercialisation by the tourism industry.

The Environment Minister, Verity Firth, said the Government would appoint a six-member tourism and national parks taskforce, headed by the former parks chief Brian Gilligan, "to come up with practical recommendations as to how we can increase visitation to national parks, while not impinging on the conservation of protected areas".

We love National Parks. We've been using them for years. We understand that proper management can let more people share these wonderful areas without damaging them. But it has to be proper management. Seems we might not be alone in this belief, eh?

lorrie's picture

and I post this knowing that people won't like it.

But the question is - is it economically viable to run and maintain our trials these days given the current setup?

There are some Mountain bike parks out there (o/s) that charge a nominal fee for entry. I know that this placed used to charge 5 GBP for a day entry or something like 25 GBP for a year http://www.astonhill.com/ they had a guy there all year round collecting money and then working on the trails when he got a chance. There was a DH, 4X, 2 x XC tracks, hose, dunny and food all as part of the track.

I'm not sure if these places charge http://www.mbwales.com/default.aspx but the trails are flipping AWESOME, their organisation of MTB bike parks is superb I would pay to ride those trails without even considering the cost involved.

Rob's picture

'User Pays' was one of the points brought up at the council meeting the other week. I know a lot of us wouldn't mind at all having to pay a license or permit or other fee if this went to proper maintenance.

Others (think kids) aren't so lucky with having $$$ to spend though. That said, anyone who can live on the Northern Beaches can't really be on struggle street, can they?!

That said, the community benefit can often justify councils paying for facilities. Think health benefits, general influx of people into the area spending money and using services.

It's a fine line but I agree nothing is for free and these things have to be considered. What the article is saying I guess, is that tourist spending would cover costs of management and maintenance.

Apparently there was an article on one of the magazines recently about how now the ski season is marginal at best a lot of places in the snowies are going to go full on MTB route. Huzzah!

Matt's picture

I think the commercially maintained trails could definitely go a lot further in Australia, we don't have anything like that in Sydney at all and they're all over the place in the UK, Europe and NZ. I'm not saying that's the only way but they certainly create great, safe, well maintained and policed places to ride if done properly.

They can do it in NZ pretty well as you're probably tired of hearing me say... I'm guessing but I think the reason it hasn't happened here is a combination of:

- lack of/cost of land
- legal liability / insurance
- lack of organisation, with the Aussie MTB industry being so lacking in big hitters

They typically only charge small bucks and if you can afford a bike to ride on them then you can afford to ride them.

I'm sure it'll happen one day, I just hope I'm still riding when it does Eye-wink

dez_b's picture

for a group letter to Verity Firth from MTB riders as to the above letter and its issues relating to our sport and the sustainability of it and the National parks .
Anyone out there in NOBMOB land with good linguistic skills capable of drafting such a letter we can all download and send the the minister. I know its all been talked about before but now would be a good time to strike while the irons hot !!

Flynny's picture

"The chief executive of the National Parks Association, Andrew Cox, said he would "die in a ditch" protecting national parks from commercialisation by the tourism industry."

It should be noted that the National Parks Association, while (some would say overly) influential, is not the National Parks and Wildlife Service (Now the Departmant of Environment and Climate change)

They are two separate bodies with the DECC being the governing body that over sees our National Parks

Personally, as someone who in the dim dark past has worked as a guide for commercial groups that use NP I believe any commercialised use of the park needs to be tightly regulated.

It should also be noted that commercial groups already have access to the parks and have done so for ages, they just need to play by the rules.

dez_b's picture

[Ed... letter writing action deserves it's own thread...]

This comment has been moved here.

jeremya's picture

Paid Mountain Bike trails are unlikely to work here . To take Manly Dam as an example we probably get 200 riders on a single day on a good weekend. Of these say 50% would pay say $5 if asked , but less would readily pay a higher fee . To employ a fee collector at $20 per hour is $180 for a full day , but with normal business overheads( keeping the office open, sick pay, insurance etc) this would mean over $360 would have to be collected , which is close to the takings above . Plus there are the physical difficulties of collecting the money, with over a dozen trail entries, making it incredibly easy for non-NOBMOBers to avoid paying . To actually make a profit and pay for a trail maintenance team for a day a week the fee would need to be $15 or so, which nobody would pay. Sydney's only attempt so far was the Olympic course at Fairfield which failed to make ends meet despite all the publicity from the Olympics
Better avenues for revenue would seem to be gratitious payments from bike shops or other business in the area, or persuading the various branches of government to support recreation for the well being of the community
There are too many illegal or semi legal trails available to riders, for people to readily cough up the dough as a direct entry fee. Paid trails do seem to work in some parts of the UK where I imagine there are few other trail alternatives, although there seem to be a lot of free trails over there as well put in by the forestry commission in other areas .

GAZZA's picture

we all love bush! now im not educated in the politics of the trails but this is my point of view and im sure that many other mountain bikers on this site will agree with me.
i'll keep it short and fairly sweet as all i want to do is get my point of view across and not write a book!
i look at mountainbikers as the modern bushwalkers. the trails were created by the walkers to get out there and get amongst the wildlife many moons ago, but along came a mode of transport that was much more fun than walking called mountainbiking.
from what i see, mountainbiking is a much more popular sport than bushwalking(at least around the northern beaches) as how many "walking" shops do you see compared to bike shops?
now ive been cycling for 30 years and mountain biking 20 of them, ive only lived in oz for ten years but i feel very strongly that ive become a lot more aware of local wildlife and bushland since ive been riding in the northern beaches. id be honest in saying that i didnt even know these areas existed before i mountainbiked on them and wouldn't have gave a s__t about them!
ehat im trying to say is 99% of the trails mountain bikers use on the northern beaches were already there and made by bushwalkers. just because we made them a tiny bit wider doesn't make us criminals and give the right for councils to fine us for using them. at the end of the day, ive never come across a walker on two of the trails that have been shut down recently on the northern beaches,i dont condone walking as its a healthy pastime but i really dont think we should be persecuted for wanting to get out there and enjoy the beautiful bushland and wlldlife of the northern beaches! its not as if we're creating great motorways or housing developments out there is it?

Rob's picture

Ah... seems a task force has come from this thought, see here:


nrthrnben's picture

I have to say i am only new to this forum but not at all new to the mountain bike scene.

After a great deal of thought i really think a dedicated recreation park is what is needed,after talking to the manager of stromlo forest park in the ACT there approach is what we need,a local government backed park,but not just for mountain bikers it would include area's for horses,walking,bmx,4x,dh,xc and so on.All the hard work has been done for us,all we have to do is copy them and make it better.
Also by joing up with these other groups we would have incredible people power. And that is all it takes to get the powers at be to sit up and take notice and thus get things happening.
Can i suggest a monthly local meeting with a donation box to cover the hall hire to get everyone on the same page,not just mountain bikers,also equestrian,bushwalkers maybe,bmx and so on.

Just look at the sport and recreation grounds neer narrabeen,that would have cost a fortune.

As for pay as you use,why would you have someone collecting money,simple once a year registration,which everyone that i know would be more than happy to pay if they had a legal challenging place to ride and enjoy,maybe $200 per person per year(all riders to display stickers on bike) and if thousands register will be the case if it is the only park in sydney,you do the math.We get the government to build it,we help design,maintain and enjoy. Now this is not far fetched as we are at the perfect time to get this.With the added local economy boast from tourism,it would pay for itself from a government perspective in no time.

We would all love well designed, world class challenging trails,we just have to get together to make it happen,hundreds of us.

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