Great Koala National Park calls for $6 million mountain bike investment

Great Koala National Park launches new report and calls for $6 million investment for mountain bike infrastructure

The Great Koala National Park steering committee has launched a report entitled “Sun, sea, sand and thrills: beat that New Zealand!”.

The diverse groups that supporting the Great Koala National Park are calling for the creation of the park to be accompanied by regional recreation planning and a $6 million funding injection to develop 100km of bike tracks that will turn the area into a bucket list item for outdoor enthusiasts.

The groups envisage seven mountain bike hubs between Woolgoolga and Scotts Head, linked to each other via existing forest tracks, and to the NSW coastal cycleway.  

The report highlights the potential for the proposed Great Koala National Park to elevate the Coffs Coast into the echelons of a truly world-class international and domestic destination for nature-based fun.

It cites the examples of Rotorua, New Zealand, where mountain bike tourism is now worth more than the value of the plantation timber where the biking takes place, and Derby, Tasmania, where $3 million initial investment now returns $30 million per year to the local economy.

Many trails already exist but their economic and social potential cannot be maximised. Logging precludes significant investment because of uncertainty as to the long-term security of trails and the disruption to the natural beauty that logging inflicts. This is incompatible with high-value nature-based tourism.

“We are so excited about what our local area could become if our leaders have the vision to create the Great Koala National Park”, said Caitlan Hockey, spokesperson for the Great Koala National Park and Nambucca local.

“We’ve jokingly referenced New Zealand because our Kiwi friends are so good at nature-based outdoor recreation. In fact, they ended native forest logging almost 20 years ago and their regional areas are thriving—largely thanks to the tourism industry.

“Yet we think we actually have a better offering right here on the Coffs Coast. We have a marine park where you can see whales and grey nurse sharks. We have the Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage area where you feel like you’re stepping back into a land that dinosaurs inhabited. We have wilderness areas where you can lose yourself for days. We have glorious beaches with warm water – and we’ve got good weather!

“Imagine the world’s first Great Koala National Park on top of that. Then imagine world class mountain bike infrastructure for visitors to the park. The opportunities are endless!

“We’re convinced that the Great Koala National Park is a vital component of our area’s future, and we hope those who value natural beauty for mountain biking will support us in trying to make it a reality.”

Key considerations of the report include:

  • The creation of the park be accompanied by regional recreation planning with deep community participation
  • Consultation with Aboriginal groups prior to any trail planning or works to ensure cultural heritage is respected
  • A call for $6 million investment into new mountain bike infrastructure
  • Strict environmental standards to ensure that mountain bike trails are in appropriate locations and do not impact upon natural values
  • Strict biosecurity standards and controls to avoid the spread of weeds and disease
  • Adherence to international standards of trail building and National Parks and Wildlife Service oversight
  • Placement of associated infrastructure (toilets, barbecues etc) in already cleared areas to avoid further disturbance to vegetation

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