Illawarra's Mountain Bike Strategy finds balance

Mountain biking across the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area is now formalised in a plan to create a 76-kilometre network of tracks that protects the environment and respects the significant cultural landscape.

Mountain biking on Muurlay Baamgala cycle trails, in eucalypt forest at Bongil Bongil National Park, near Coffs Harbour

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) South Coast Director Kane Weeks said the strategy sets out where, why and how sustainable mountain biking can continue across the Escarpment.

"The sheer scale and beauty of the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area attracts riders from all over who want a unique nature-based adventure," Mr Weeks said.

"The strategy maps around 76 kilometres of formal mountain bike tracks across two areas near Mount Kembla and Balgownie.

"Our responsibility as land managers is to protect the biodiversity and cultural heritage of this highly-valued conservation area and balance recreation with conservation.

"Working with Wollongong City Council, the Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Advisory Group and local Aboriginal representatives, we are delivering a strategy that balances a range of views so everyone, now and into the future, can appreciate the area."

The network has purposely been designed to protect and avoid areas of particularly high conservation and cultural value and will use low impact construction techniques.

An important part of developing a mountain bike network is closing down and rehabilitating all unsanctioned mountain bike tracks in the state conservation area and working with the mountain bike community to encourage responsible use of tracks.

It is anticipated that work on the new mountain bike network will start in early 2023.

The NPWS and Wollongong City Council have prepared the Strategy following feedback from the community and a range of stakeholder on the draft strategy.

View strategy here: Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Strategy.