Friday, 25-Jul 2014 @ 10:56am

Yesterday Doug and I travelled to Cleveland to attend the first QORF MTB forum for some time.  We offered Ashley's apology due to work commitments.  Here is our summary.

The Qld Outdoor Recreation Federation is a state government affiliate and strongly advocates MTB to government departments.  In Qld, QORF is the glue that binds different land managers, Sport and Recreation, MTB clubs, professional trail builders and volunteer groups.  QORF is seeking to develop a Qld-wide MTB stategy that provides a network of supporting information via the groups attending the forums and via that unity to encourage state government to take management of the strategy, encouraging more refined and standardised MTB development throughout the state.

Since the last forum, things have changed and very positively.  For us, Nerang has seen the completion of trail re-routes on Pete's, Pete's Extension, Brett's, Casuarina Loop and Three Hills, plus the signposting of Pete's, Pete's Extension and Brett's (which we noted this week is signposted as Pete's at one end!).  For the club, Hinze Dam trails are now essentially complete and have been successfully used for XC racing.  It was great to see Sandy and Terry at the forum to represent GCMTB.  They gave Peter Hallinan's appology.  As much has happened locally, bigger things are afoot (a-pedal maybe) elsewhere in the state.

Brisbane, Logan and Redlands Bay councils have been counting traffic and estimate MTB to be between 30 and 67% of all use in places like Daisy Hill, Cornubia, Bunyah, Redland Trails and Gap Creek.  GCCC has attempted to count rider usage on the new, Old Tambo track, but apparently we are too quick and the system failed!  There is clear agreement among councils that MTB is on the rise, nearing or at saturation in some places (Daisy), requires infrastructure expenditure for parking etc, can be used to increase financial benefit to the community and is only going to get bigger in the forseeable future.  QPWS and SEQ Water have developed new online resources.  Instead of just providing information about their assets, there are now user-based resources specific to activities available.  Exchange of information, blog-style is being used to enhance the online experience.

In approximately 2 months, GCCC will be conducting an online review of their land parcels.  Naomi Christian (Community Resource Delevelopment Manager) described these, largely unknown areas as jewels in the Gold Coast crown.  She encouraged feedback from us as stakeholders and the implication is that they are looking to expand their involvement in MTB.  While GCCC obviously has a vested interest in the Commonwealth Games 2018, Redland Bay council was very vocal about wanting to attract athletes and visitors to their trails in competition with GCCC.  It is another indicator of their proactive approach to MTB.

The level of comfort shown by land managers like SEQ Water, QPWS and councils toward environmental impact and sustainability has increased dramatically over the last 2 years.  There seems to be widespread acceptance of machine-built trail and this implies the increasing place of professional MTB trail building as well.  Land managers sited building efficiency, the abililty to make trail durable and in need of less maintainence from the start and the advantage of using MTB trail for their own land management acess and control works.  

Given the potential dissolution of IMBA Australia and therefore the loss to landmanagers of on-site assessments and training, the developing trust of MTB and recent progress across Qld does suggest we have moved to that next level.  If IMBA Australia does go, it seems MTB will not be disadvantaged as much as seemed likely earlier this year.

Also, while it is not clear whether one system is going to be universally used across all management areas, emergency location markers are being rolled out on council and QPWS land.  They will allow an accurate location to be provided to emergency services, if required.  Signposting of trails now includes QR codes as well as more detailed and MTB-specific information in some council areas.  Having suggested these things in our Nerang master plan and at previous QORF forums, it feels very satisfying to see it happening.

After the forum a small group of us went for a ride at the Stringybark Trails, about 1.5km from the venue.  This is a 265Ha area close to the CBD of Cleveland.  There are quite a number of 2-way trails on undulating land with a really nice creek along one boundary.  Narrow trail width makes some trails blue in rating, but there is little danger to a beginner rider.  It was a fun ride, but they were all fit buggers, including Doug, so I felt like a sea anchor at times.  

Four riders were trailcare volunteers, two of them work for councils and another is a professional trailbuilder.  There were frank discussions about drainage, possible pollution coming from adjacent housing land and testing techniques, construction methods and closure of old lines.  In another backhanded pat on the back, it was great to hear that Brisbane council closes old trail lines the way we have been doing it.  The old trail is softened and then stabilised with excavated soil from the new trail line in layers with mulch.  Water dams are built where needed to regulate flow.  The experience there is that unless a trail disappears and stays that way, it will eventually be re-opened.  We agree that good closures require a lot of hard work.

So that was QORF for July 2014.  This weekend we start the blue rated, re-route of lower Three hills Singletrack, although clearing the corridor may be our chosen task.  QPWS has offered us the use of 1200mm track width excavator.  We will have to negotiate times, but it will allow us to complete the difficult corners and drainages close to the new line into Exit Trail much more rapidly. We will have to see if we are working in two places at once.


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