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The Future of OMV - Hornsby Council Stakeholder Meeting

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 03 March 2017

Last night (Thursday), 7 other mountain bikers and I met with several Hornsby Councillors as part of the latter's consultation process of the future of Hornsby Park and how the land could be best used for.

So, what’s going on?

As is common knowledge, the exponentially popular track in Old Man’s Valley closed in mid-2016 so that truck access could be made to the Hornsby quarry where debris from the NorthConnex Tunnel is presently being dumped. As much of the trail has now been bulldozed, many new trails are presently being built to replace them, the first of which have opened in the past fortnight (on weekends only). More are on the way.

However, Hornsby Council’s long term plan is to construct a multi-use facility once the NorthConnex project is complete, involving Hornsby Park (present location of the pool), the OMV land, the Crusher Point (located at the end of Quarry Rd), and the quarry itself, potentially stretching all the way down to the bottom of Rosemead Rd (about 100vm difference all up). The aim is to have this facility open by 2023 with many different activities nominated as potential inclusions.

In the first stage of planning, Hornsby Council has held a series of meetings with the primary interest groups and other stakeholders attempting to find out what would be the most important features to place in the park, and how this would be done. Yesterday’s meeting with mountain bikers representing groups such as Sydney MTB riders, Sydney North Off Road Cyclists, Nobmob and TrailCare, was one of these.

What did we say?

Fortunately for us, Council is aware of the importance of MTB in the area, and they are aware that our small number represented thousands, if not tens of thousands, of individuals. However, it nonetheless gave us yet another forum to not only reiterate this, but expand on how we would like to get there. The key discussion points included:

1) MTB tracks are not exclusive to other facilities.

Unlike items such as sporting fields, MTB tracks can coexist with a range of other facilities, often complementing them. We noted locations such as Mt Annan Botanic Garden, and Lake Crackenback Resort as examples where this is done exceptionally.

2) The original tracks were great, but needed expanding.

It only needed someone to walk down Quarry Road on a weekend to see how widely populated the <6km track was. None of us have any doubt that, with its reputation, the reopened trail will be any less so. We therefore suggested that the track was expended so that people could come for a decent ride, turning it into around a 13km loop, meaning that with two laps aaa 25km ride could be enjoyed.

3) The MTB track should use the total elevation of the reserve.

The height between the lowest point of the Quarry Void and the OMV entrance is 100 vertical metres, so making use of this elevation allows the construction of a reasonably lengthy descent (and ascent). This could also allow an access point at the end of Rosemead Rd which in turn could link up to Dural or Westleigh in the future.

4) Inserting a skills course, dirt jumps and a downhill track will turn it into a IMBA rated park.

Something that no other MTB track in Sydney is. Stromlo is one of the few places that would qualify. If a DH track were built, a shuttle run service could be contracted, and used in conjunction with transporting others around the park (such as families or the elderly) could become quite profitable.

5) We were all supportive of other facilities being built.

Whether it be hiking, trail running, climbing or camping, almost MTBers are enthusiasts in other outdoor activities and hence we affirmed our support for a park that families could enjoy outdoor activities both on and off two wheels. The most touted ideas included a zipline (wouldn’t it be amazing to have one flying over the lake itself?!), a high ropes course, a café, outdoor fitness equipment and a shared use track, based on our sense of what others would want, though are open to tweaking this based on what would fit the land best.

6) A brief dialogue over the types of tracks we would want.

Quite predictable – a mix of berms, rocks, descending, climbing made for a range of abilities, including an easily accessible beginner track.

What next?

Council will continue meeting with other stakeholders over the coming weeks, before the next round of consultation commences, including a series of public viewing days. More will be posted on the website as it is determined, and I’ll make an effort to share these updates through this forum and in other means.

In the meantime, from what I understand, tunnels are being constructed in OMV, meaning that this will be open at some point in the future. I’ll keep tabs with Synergy Trails (the hands behind all this) and post updates as they come.

What about related issues?

There are other long term projects and inquiries that have been getting some publicity recently, and although the meeting was focussed on OMV, there was a small amount of discussion about related pursuits.

Link Trails

To encourage users to leave their cars at home, and to combine larger loops to the Hornsby track, there was a brief discussion about how a series of either paved or unpaved tracks could link it to other areas. Presently, one can link Hornsby with Terrey Hills via North Wahroonga, North Turramurra and St Ives with about 80% dirt, but the route is convoluted and there are several very busy roads riders are forced onto. Riders were advising trying to negotiate a series tracks that could link Hornsby to places such as Wahroonga, Westleigh via the Blue Gum Forest and Dural via Fishponds.

The Greater Sydney Commision is a platform where members can make submissions on how the city can prepare for the coming decades, split into regions (the Northern Region is the one that interests us). If you agree with the aforementioned objective, or have another suggestion (cycling or non-cycling related), then you can submit this here.

Westleigh Water Board Land

Last year, the area next to the Sydney Water land in Westleigh was bought by Council with the objective to turn it into a multi-use facility complete with official MTB tracks, similar to the OMV land in the coming years, which there was community open day held last September.

Council was rather light on details, but my understanding is that not a huge amount of action will be taken until funding can put into the project, and the land is being audited. However join the FB group for updates on this matter.

Quarry Road Track

The legendary fire trail linking Quarry Road, Dural (not to be confused with Quarry Road, off Dural St, Hornsby) with Hornsby, has had thorns stuck into it for the best part of the past three years over being in Rifle Range land. The latest stunt is to have 4 massive gates installed by the range at each boundary entry effectively preventing use at all times and cutting off the only off road access between Hornsby and Dural, despite the range only being used between 9am and 4:30pm during the week.

Discussion has generated over this issue in the past and users of the track have as always sent many letters to councillors and our local member, Matt Kean, but that doesn’t seem to have been enough. But just as before, it is not time to give up. Continue sending him and other councillors emails on this issue.

What can you do?

Foremost, the Hornsby Plan Your Park Survey is open where the public can mark what they would most like to see in this unique space. It is open till March 31st so if you have not filled it out please do so!

Additionally, please check the site regularly for updates, particularly for public consultation sessions which are expected to be held throughout this year.

Remember, the initial tracks at OMV, just like many other MTB tracks are only there because others have taken time away from their families, jobs, studies, and own riding to lobby, write, and physically maintain them so that all others can enjoy them, so please consider volunteering with this effort. Follow the SNORC FB page for more info of how you can be involved.

hawkeye's picture

Thanks for attending in my absence. Really appreciate you doing so and for reporting back to everybody here.

Northern Beaches Council has a lot to learn from Hornsby.

Lach's picture

.. good to get a handle on on the detail.

evan's picture

Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Just as point of interest the Hornsby Rifle range has been operating in that location since 1858. Long before mountain bikers, bush walkers and those trails were established.
We as mountain bikers like to try and educate people about our sport, maybe we should also educate ourselves on other sports.
Further more Live Firing Times at the Hornsby Range is daily from 9am to 5pm, and from 6pm to 10.00 pm Monday to Friday.
The actual land is Crown Land.

Link to a document that explains things in more detail:

The Audit for public safety conducted by Insearch in 1995, assessed the level of risk and the likelihood of death or injury from being hit by a bullet fired from the rifle range. The audit found that there was a risk of such an occurrence. The Range Inspector from the NSW Police Firearms Registry has reviewed the Safety Audit and determined that there is still a risk of death or injury for people traversing the range while shooting is occurring. That risk is not acceptable.


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