The demands and impacts of mountain biking on both legal and illegal trails on the escarpment are increasing. Many trails provide a good riding experience, but their condition and sustainability vary greatly. The adverse safety, environmental and cultural impacts of illegal use and ad-hoc trail development need to be addressed to ensure the activity is sustainable into the future.
National Parks and Wildlife Service and Wollongong City Council developed the draft strategy from a mountain bike concept plan prepared by Dirt Art, a company who specialises in mountain bike trail design. Environmental data, field investigations, a preliminary cultural heritage assessment and information from mountain bike riders and other stakeholders was also used. A Mountain Bike Working Group that consists of state government agencies, tourism bodies, mountain biking groups and land managers have also had input into the draft strategy.
The primary emphasis of the draft strategy is the provision of safe sustainable recreation for a broad range of riders. The draft strategy identifies a potential mountain bike trail network of 82 kilometres on the escarpment.
Public exhibition process
The draft strategy was on public exhibition from 30 October 2018 to 21 December 2018 and provided the community with the opportunity to have their say on mountain biking on the Illawarra Escarpment. The original closing date of 10 December 2018 was extended by 10 days due to a high level of public interest.
A total of 956 submissions were received from a broad range of stakeholders, including NSW Government, non-government organisations and private individuals.
The high volume and varied sources of the submissions confirm a high level of interest in the proposal, as well as divided views on best location of trails.
Overview of public exhibition responses
National Parks and Wildlife Service and Wollongong City Council reviewed all submissions. The submissions addressed a wide range of issues that have been summarised under 6 key themes.
- Development of the draft strategy
- Trail network and scale of proposal
- Infrastructure and services
- Impact on the community
- Environmental and cultural heritage impacts
- Future management
- Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Strategy Public Exhibition Report
- Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Draft Strategy
- Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Biking Concept Plan
- Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area Plan of Management
How can I get more information about the proposal?
What happens next?
National Parks and Wildlife Service will continue to engage with stakeholders to finalise a draft strategy.
An Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Advisory Group will also be established. Membership will reflect a broad range of business, risk and technical skills to provide advice on strategy development and management approaches. Aboriginal stakeholders will be represented in this group.
All cultural heritage and environmental assessments, that informed the final strategy, will be publicly available.
Assessment process and final strategy
NPWS will undertake a comprehensive and detailed environmental assessment to determine the impact of the proposal when a draft trail network is finalised. Activities within NPWS reserves are assessed under Part 5 of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The final design of the trail network is subject to this assessment and may be refined or changed to reduce the environmental and cultural impacts.
Governance arrangements and roles in managing the trail network have yet to be determined.