Cycling in Sydney Australia
Hornsby Council and Northconnex have kept their word to the community, re-opening most of the custom-built mtb trails (created by professional trail builders, Synergy Trails) around the old quarry. Trails have also been extended and improved, linked by subways under the conveyor belt and steep fill-truck access road. It is really interesting to take a breather on the steep TAFE side of the trails and look down upon the hive of Northconnex activity.
Council is also reviewing the unofficial, community-built trails of Westleigh (aka H20) and, fingers crossed- linking these two neighbouring mtb trails in the near future to make a longer, more extensive network of offroad trails. This is common in many metropolitan areas of the world which, like Sydney, are surrounded by natural environments.
Since the official opening on January 9, 2018 by Mayor Phillip Ruddock, hundreds of local riders- some travelling from as far as Newcastle- have been enjoying these two small mtb trail networks- some intrepid riders already linking them together using existing streets, footpaths & firetrails. The new OMV trail access ramp next to the swimming pool is proving very popular with mountain bikers from surrounding suburbs who are leaving the car at home. During school holidays it is wonderful to see how many local teenagers and primary school kids are now cycling at OMV and living life, instead of watching it go by on a screen.
Sadly, the Quarry Road fire trail remains officially closed to all BVNP trail users, thanks to rifle range bosses. NSW Govt (OEH) cut budgets to our National Parks, so there’s ‘no money’ to build QRT detour trails (or build & maintain any bushtrails generally) for taxpayers to explore very much that’s new in our vast National Parks on foot or bicycle. But, billions of dollars are lavished on toll roads and stadiums… enough said.
Regenerating OMV is a sound investment in ratepayers’ quality of life and the local regional economy. It’s not just offroad cyclists who are benefitting either. OMV is a perfect example of how authorities and communities can work together to transform an environmental eyesore into a valuable asset. With Sydney mtb trails development and land access looking rather grim back in 2017, it is absolutely marvellous to share this very good news in 2018 !
BY CAR: Park at the end of Quarry Road. Trail Map and three trail heads there.
BY BIKE: Cycle along Peats Ferry Road, accessing OMV down the ramp behind Hornsby swimming pool.
BY TRAIN: Put your bike on the train and hop off at Hornsby station. 99% of the trains to and from Sydney CBD stop at Hornsby.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Approx. 6km per lap. NOT recommended for novices, unless you confine your ride to the green trails on the map. (H20 is much less intimidating) A good dual suspension bike is a real bonus to negotiate these trails.
Because hundreds of riders are confined to a small area, the trail gets worn down and tricky. This is why we need mtb trails networks of 20, 80 or 120km distances!!! But volunteers and Synergy Trails work hard to keep the trail maintained.
Laps are technical, flowy chocolate rivers with jumps, berms, pump sections and several big drop-offs and rock riding to delight and challenge experienced mountain bikers. There are also demanding, technical climbs- so all up OMV is an excellent mental & physical workout for riders.
FACILITIES: No toilets or change rooms yet at OMV. A central new OMV jump spot has been completed by Synergy Trails to hang out at. Nearby cafes and the swimming pool to relax in after your ride. Support the local businesses for your post-ride coffee or egg and bacon roll.
MORE INFO & UPDATES: http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au and watch the fun 2018 videos about OMV on You Tube!
Sadly, the Quarry Road fire trail remains officially closed to all BVNP trail users, thanks to rifle range bosses. NSW Govt (OEH) cut budgets to our National Parks, so there’s ‘no money’ to build QRT detour trails (or build & maintain any bushtrails generally) for taxpayers to explore very much that’s new in our vast National Parks on foot or bicycle.
Interesting take on things you have there.
My understand is twofold:
1. new safety standards have been foisted upon a very old, well established rifle range. Passage through their zone was previously fine. ie: its not the rifle range's fault
2. National Parks are generally hostile to bicycles.. (in fact I don't know of many that let you cycle in them off established fire trails.. but maybe I'm wrong there).
Indeed, there are very few places where single track can be 'legally' ridden. Single track at Bantry Bay was a an attempt by NPWS to provide mountain bike single track and halt the construction of 'illegal' tracks in that area. The formerly well-know cross-country track at Oxford Falls was shut down long ago. The only other rideable single track on National Parks land in Sydney region that i am aware of is adjacent to the Oaks fire trail. This is a fairly long-standing arrangement, and seems to be getting better all the time with some nice track work. i am sure there are other instances, but those are the ones i am aware of.
According to some NPWS meeting notes available online from 2008, at that point in time the only rideable single track in the entirety of NSW was at the Oaks (Blue Mountains) and Thredbo. Otherwise, fire trails are all open for mountain bikers/ off-road bicycle riders.
On another note, OMV is a fantastic trail network that i ride as often as i can.
And, nothing whatsoever has changed since 2008. Oxford Falls is an appalling tragedy for offroad cycling in this area. Apparently, the closure has something to do with said trail being on Aboriginal Land. There is also a very vocal and active walkers group which is most proprietary about bicycles on 'their' trails- but I write this under correction- it's just what I've heard.
Yes, it is nice to be able to ride on firetrails, but they are just offroad road rides. This is like expecting soccer players and rugby players to share the same field, with a couple of motor vehicles thrown in. What deeply concerns me, is the utter ignorance, in this car supremacist State of NSW, regarding the range of distance a bicycle- any bicycle- can cover, very efficiently. Hundreds of offroad cyclists in Sydney etc are confined to 3 or 4 'official' trails that are only 5 or 6km long- so these trails get exceptionally degraded- and then there is the negative outcome of this being held up as 'proof' that mtb riding will "damage the environment" We need MTB trails networks that are 20, 50, 100km long- We need the 'Great Northern Ride!!!'
The other trend, is to shunt offroad cycling areas/ trails onto old industrial sites/ ex- landfills/ forestry areas that will be logged- while all around for thousands of hectares there are National Parks which could make some of the best offroad riding experiences in the world-and the kind of places where you would want to construct PERMANENT offroad cycling trails networks and reap the ROI for the local regional economy...
FYI: Missive below is what I found out by directly contacting Parks & OEH- and reported in a 2017 article I wrote for our local area magazine, Galston & Glenorie News...
'A further blow has been dealt to cyclists, bush runners and walkers, with the official 2016 closure of the Quarry Road Firetrail, due to the determination of the powerful North Shore Regional Target Shooting Association to keep us all safe and sedentary. While it is important for legal gun owners to have a place to practise shooting skills, there has not been any incident since the range was established in 1898. The Association holds the official license to use a large wedge of Crown Land intersected twice by the Quarry Trail.
Since 1995, land management authorities have been privy to ‘The Audit for Public Safety,’ conducted by Insearch, on the Hornsby Range. The Range Inspector of NSW Police Firearms Registry, upon reviewing this Safety Audit, the Firearms Act of 1996 and the 2006 NSW Firearms Regulations, decided to adopt a zero risk policy for the Hornsby Range. Consequently, we now have a bushland 'Sydney Lockout', barring public access to a National Park, a key historical link between Hornsby and Dural and the only bridge, other than in Galston Gorge - across the extensive, sheer-sided Berowra Creek.
Just as Hornsby Council ‘inherited’ OMV & the Quarry, the exceptionally poor management of Quarry Trail access has been ‘inherited’ from the past by BVNP. Pogson Trig Trail has been newly signposted and upgraded by NPWS in a feeble attempt at an ‘alternate route’ to QRT, but this only serves to illustrate a redundant mindset that walking is the only active way visitors want to experience a national park. NPWS says they are “Continuing discussions with their land management partners to investigate more options for alternate routes to QRT.” My, how proactive they are!
The fact that nothing has been done to facilitate or secure ongoing Quarry Road trail use for the local community in the 22 years following that fateful 1995 Audit for Public Safety, does not inspire confidence in much, if anything being built now for any trail user groups to appreciate and legally access this vast area of BVNP for the foreseeable future- with the notable exception of all those who own a gun.'
That is the entire time I have lived in Sydney!! Meanwhile, in my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand I jealously view Strava logs of this weeks ride on the MTB trails around Wellington. They are often in the green belt around Wellington, national parks and so on.
I know a family on the south side in the shire. They have 3 young teenage boys, all very enthusiastic MTB riders. Trails were built by riders in the bush and are actively used. The shire or NPWS have deemed these illegal and there is a big stoush to be rid of them. As usual the incumbents are actively seeking alternatively places (NOT) to build a replacement system. I despair.
Ditto. News like this just makes me want to leave Sydney and the 'no fun allowed' backward and downright destructive mindset of many of those with power over us in this city. But, the point of sharing my article was to illustrate that at least one Sydney Council and one corporate construction company- Northconnex- have 'put the will of the people' first.