NSW Increased visitation to National parks: Have your say

I wasn't too disappointed, OK so MTBA didn't submit for some reason but on the other hand Bicycle New South Wales did.

That BNSW submission is good, because they have a large membership and put up a good case about the need for people to be able to access parks by bicycle. It's in mind as an alternative to driving there. And once there by bike there's an implication that the visitor stays with her/his bike. So visit opportunities must be inclusive of people with bikes.

Furthermore the image of 'cycling', as in the BNSW membership and families getting into parks and pottering along is much more yesable for access than is the image of MTBers tearing around the place scaring the poop out of bushwalkers.

Really the weirdo single track prohibition of cycling DECC have in their policy (i.e. no riding unless signed to permit cycling) is more about the perception that walkers might be skittled than anything else. It is at least welcome that DECC have adopted the terminology 'multi-use trails' and I can see more trails being opened up for cycling so long as the expectation is that they'll be used in a gentle way for visits and touring rather than race speed activity.

So it's not all bad.

Now as a parallel thought I enjoyed the "Mountain" show on the ABC which featured the 'right to roam' campaign. This original disobedience early in the last century and lobbying took decades to get Govt to finally pass law making access a right. But it did achieve the desired outcome.

I wonder if a similar approach might be possible in Aussie for the purpose of cementing access rights for all low-impact self-reliant recreation, with proper constraints to encourage and ensure civilised behaviour.
 

Dumbellina

Likes Dirt
Now as a parallel thought I enjoyed the "Mountain" show on the ABC which featured the 'right to roam' campaign. This original disobedience early in the last century and lobbying took decades to get Govt to finally pass law making access a right. But it did achieve the desired outcome.

I wonder if a similar approach might be possible in Aussie for the purpose of cementing access rights for all low-impact self-reliant recreation, with proper constraints to encourage and ensure civilised behaviour.
The "right to roam" is a peculiar European thing. In Scandinavia where it orginates, all people enjoy access rights to anyone's land but are forbidden from interfering with the owner's stuff. In England, whose land access laws we generally follow, most land is private land where all public access is strictly forbidden, and only limited formal access routes to allow people to move about (which followed Victorian England's fascination amongst the middle class with picnicking and rambling, but was constrained by private property laws).

In Australia most land is Crown land, with the bulk of the State under lease to farmers etc. The Western Lands Act gives people access rights to rivers but little else. Most public land is easily accessible to everyone - unless there are access requirements eg paying an entry fee or agree to abide by the access rules - for us no MTB on walking tracks unless signposted otherwise. So the right to roam is a blunt right for MTB access in national parks. The only thing it could be useful for is an argument in favour of a MTB being caught on a closed trail and the signposting of the trail is ambiguous or absent.
 
Indeed, sort of. By right to roam I have in mind the concept of asserting a right to automatic access public lands, subject to specific and reasonable management constraints- generally for the purpose of rambling (whether on foot or bicycle).

I would naturally want to extend that concept to private land as well, in that in the UK it is conventional to accept that people will want to ramble across your rural land, even if there is no formal right of way. I grew up with that.

As an aside, last time over there I did get challenged by a stroppy farmer's wife. A bit of a joke, as the parish had acquired that particular land from the farmer and so it was in fact public. This was part of some weirdo EC initiative to buy land from farmers to discourage them from over-producing. My father had participated that acquisition, for the purpose of expanding recreational space.

I'm quite happy for people to bushwalk on my own property BTW.
 

Dumbellina

Likes Dirt
I'm quite happy for people to bushwalk on my own property BTW.
Is riding allowed, if so what's the address? :D

The other thing to be overcome in Australia is the sense of ownership attached to private property (even as it extends beyond the back fence).

Here are a couple of examples:
* native title - the first thing non-Indigenous people thought of was that someone might actually succeed in challenge their "right" of ownership - despite this being commonplace in property law (think of the plot in the "The Castle"). At the heart of our concept of private property is the ability to exclude those people we don't like from "our" land - if you can't exclude those you don't like...then you don't own it... (Some of this can be traced back to Australia's continuing frontier attitude to land ownership, the whole settler/squatter legacy)

* consulting with neighbours - regardless of you are talking about a national park, or a development proposal to build a garage - the old "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY) syndrome - people percieve of their ownership of their "bit" as extending beyond the fence to control the activities of others outside of their property. People who are NIMBYs are unlikely to permit access to strangers to their own backyards.

* public liability - if someone injures themself on your land then you could be liable - guest, rambler, or MTB'r (we now have exclusions for criminals - so the stories about the burgler who sues you for falling over while breaking-in has been killed permanently).

* the great expanse of public land - the attitude of National Parks staff, "why don't you MTB in some State Forest or Crown Land" - perhaps becauses there's bugger all in the Sydney basin!!! Its do it somewhere else, even if that somewhere else doesn't exist.

* Dickheads - not everyone will respect other's rights to privacy, peace, etc - look at the number of trail closures around Sydney, Illawarra because the small minority fark it up for everyone. One fear of private landholders I have heard over and over again is they fear that some twat on a moto will follow MTB'rs into their land and trash the place. Or that some dick will damage property, steal property etc. While we can vouch for our MTBing mates, I wouldn't say the same about everyone.
 
Bicycle riding is allowed, I even have a track for bikes.
Only 160m long, steep, and has fallen trees until I get a new chainsaw.

It will eventually link with public land tracks, althought I have a bit of a terrain challenge to overcome.

PM me if you care for a squizz Dumbellina
 

thecat

NSWMTB, Central Tableland MBC
* Dickheads - not everyone will respect other's rights to privacy, peace, etc - .
I think that is a biggie. There was a popular climbing area up here that was accessed by crossing private property. The owner was happy for this to take place until his kids were sworn at by wankers coming through and then another mob rang the doorbell at 3am to complain the gate was locked (it wasn't)
 
Hi All
I spoke with the head/manager of National Parks in our area on a number of occasions. Completely stone walled me about any access or any consideration of access. Even if the NSW Government wanted more access there would still be issue of dealing with the people on the ground. In reality Nat Parks probably dont even want the walkers - it all leads to more work for them. Either way I am looking for pre-existing arrangements that I can take to Nat Parks here as our current trail system adjoins an area of Nat Park which we previously had access to until the lease ran out for the tenant.
 

sammydog

NSWMTB, Hunter MTB Association
Hi All
I spoke with the head/manager of National Parks in our area on a number of occasions. Completely stone walled me about any access or any consideration of access. Even if the NSW Government wanted more access there would still be issue of dealing with the people on the ground. In reality Nat Parks probably dont even want the walkers - it all leads to more work for them. Either way I am looking for pre-existing arrangements that I can take to Nat Parks here as our current trail system adjoins an area of Nat Park which we previously had access to until the lease ran out for the tenant.
To a degree I think your right. Especially at ground level a lot of rangers that I have met are anti any use of the park, including walkers in some cases.

Go up the line a little and I have found that they are a little more open minded (well around here anyway).

At the end of the day, if the state govt wants change, it only takes legislative amendments to push the issue, so long as the will is their by the government. I think we have seen glimpses of the desire by the govt to open the parks up a little, but nothing earth shattering at this point. I think for us the big wins are going to have to come from the top down.
 
Sammydog
I ride in the upper hunter (mostly at Scone). I agree that the changes are going to be top down but I think it will take a lot of effort to force it through the ranks. Probably the changes will have to happen in the parks adjacent to the larger urban areas where there are greater rider numbers. Resistance to change in the more rural areas can be staggering.
 

sammydog

NSWMTB, Hunter MTB Association
Well if the new dam goes in there could be a huge win in mtb access in the upper hunter. I've already been contacted by the authorities about using mtb as a recreational use in the dam catchment.

I think the bigger question is who will win the debate about the dam going in or not.
Granted this has nothing to do with the NPWS.

As for change in the parks, your correct it only takes one or two areas to lesson the rules and it will hopefully open a few other doors. I do think though this will take us to be realistic about what we can and can't do in a park.
 

Dumbellina

Likes Dirt
Sorry folks for the long absence.

Without giving too much away in a public forum, and despite the generally negative article in AMB on slack submission writing from the MTB community, I can say that cycling is getting greater attention as a result of the Taskforce report. The report did include cycling as a self-reliant recreational activity along with walking and canoeing - a huge win.

But I still hear all too often about local groups forming good relationships with local parks staff only to be stymied by the current MTB policy. This is where the lobbying effort must be expended - letters from NSWMTB, MTBA and others - not dwelling on who did and didn't respond to the Taskforce.

Chips, I was up the mountains twice over Xmas and stuck with Anderson's and Oakes - sweet trails but too many brainless riders on the Oakes (riding the singletrack up against the flow of riders, or a guy with no helmet on a bike with narrow slick tyres trying to keep up with his mates on the firetrail descent???)

Its worth adding that the SCA and the current Water Minister are stuffing us around about MTB access to the Catchment areas, but they are working on it (we are told).
 
Welcome back!

"riding the singletrack up against the flow of riders"

It is a two way track... and open to walkers, so descenders must allow for that. A popular option is to ride UP the singletrack and on to St Helena's, then back to Glenbrook via St Helena's and the Duckhole.

Followed by refreshment at the Lappo.
 

sammydog

NSWMTB, Hunter MTB Association
The draft POM for Glenrock is to be launched on the 16th Feb, but I can say that while everyone won't be happy with the outcomes, there are some very significant and positive outcomes for mountainbiking in the NPWS system.

If the draft becomes the definitive POM, there could be some great flow on effects to other areas.

I'll be able to say more in a week, but there is change happening.
 

Dumbellina

Likes Dirt
"riding the singletrack up against the flow of riders"

It is a two way track... and open to walkers, so descenders must allow for that. A popular option is to ride UP the singletrack and on to St Helena's, then back to Glenbrook via St Helena's and the Duckhole.
Noted that the trail is two-way...But to do it on a saturday or sunday when there is trainload after trainload of riders coming down the trail. The issue with the trail has so many blind corners and the speed of the riders coming down is far greater than the riding going down.

Sammydog
Glad to hear the Glenrock POM is moving forward - love riding Glenrock. Without giving too much away, did the horseriding in the Dudley area prevail over MTB?
 
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sammydog

NSWMTB, Hunter MTB Association
It looks like the horses will have access to the fire trail linking Dudley to the rest of the park while mtb will not have access to the southern area at all.

Full post on glenrock in this thread.

Personally, I have not given up on the south, its just going to be a longer term fight. But generally the POM is looking good.
 

nrthrnben

Likes Dirt
Manly Mp is Stepping it up

http://www.mikebaird.com.au/interactive/manly_news/tebbutt_urged_to_allow_sustainable_access_for_mountain_bikers.html#akocomment643

Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Manly MP Mike Baird is today meeting with the Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt to find a solution that would give mountain bikers access to sustainable tracks but ensure the environment is protected.

“I believe a win-win situation is possible. Our national parks must be protected but they should also be enjoyed,” Mr Baird said.

“I have asked for today’s meeting with the Environment Minister because damage is being done to the local environment as a result of riders having nowhere to go.

“Sustainable mountain biking tracks have been created in the Kosciuszko and Blue Mountains National Parks and it can be done on the Northern Beaches.

“Glenrock near Newcastle is a good example where mountain bikers and rangers have come together in a partnership to create sustainable tracks and they are working together to maintain the tracks on an ongoing basis.

“I know people are concerned about the fragile environment in National Parks and I share those concerns passionately, as do many mountain bikers. That is why there needs to be designated and sustainable trails.

“I will be asking the Minister to commit to undertake formal consultation with key mountain biking groups and National Parks and Wildlife to ensure cooperation instead of a stand-off.

“Simply fencing off trails that have been used unofficially for many years and providing no alternative facilities is not the way to go.

“Equally, it is essential that we put the protection of the environment at the forefront – it needs to be the number one priority.

“What is clear in speaking with many passionate individuals on both sides of this issue is that there is actually a lot of common ground.

“People live on the Northern Beaches because they appreciate our beautiful environment and do not intentionally want to do it harm.

“Pretending mountain bikers don’t exist and failing to provide any facilities will not protect the environment, it may well do the opposite.”


MEDIA: Lisa Harrington - 0406 726 880
 

nrthrnben

Likes Dirt
Massive News

Nobmob has been busy again.

This was posted by Rob tonight:

I'm very pleased... neigh... ecstatic to be able to share this news which broke last night but has been embargoed until now.

With local MP Mike Baird championing the cause of mountain bike riders on the Northern Beaches NPWS have finally realised that working together with riders is the sensible way forward. There's a story in the Manly Daily with brief details here.

Please everyone, no matter where you live in Australia,take a minute after you read the news article to add a respectfull thankyou to NPWS,nobmob,Mike Baird and the fact that you think its a great thing that mountain bikes are starting to be let into National Parks on a sustainable basis,please note it may take a day to show up due to mods


Aside from what is stated in the press, these are the outcomes as I was told:

- Northern Beaches has been chosen as a pilot area for the Government to improve mountain biking trails in national parks across the State.
- A full day of consultation will be held in late October with Northern Beaches mountain biking groups and environmentalists. This consultation will focus on statewide issues and then local issues at Garigal.
- NPWS are keen to resolve current tension at Garigal as soon as possible. The Regional Director for the Northern Area has instructed rangers on the ground to adopt a pragmatic approach until the issue is resolved.
- This initial stage of consultation will direct the Government's broader strategy on mountain biking, which will be finalised at the beginning of next year.

This does not mean that riding illegal trails is now OK - far from it. Many people have worked very hard to achieve this outcome and now is the time to show them your support and the opponents of mountain biking that the community is mature and can work well with other parties. The vast majority of riders has shown great patience but we need to hold that thought just a while longer.

This news shows what can be achieved with a positive attitude and the support of the community, and hope we can all look forward to what is to come.

Will be keeping everyone posted when more news is known about the upcoming meeting and progress in general.

Rob
 
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