The Bendigo area boasts a large network of trails suitable for riding in the surrounding natural areas. These trails may be management roads, fire trails, formal walking/cycling trails (such as the Goldfields Track) or informal trails constructed by mountain bike enthusiasts in their own time. Due to the network evolving in an ad hoc manner it lacks a logical layout and many trails are poorly aligned resulting in soil erosion, environmental damage and a poor riding experience. The club has been working very closely with land managers (Parks Victoria, City of Greater Bendigo and DEPI) to rationalise existing trails and develop a more coordinated and sustainable trails network. Existing trails following the ‘fall line’ (going straight downhill) or unsuitable for other reasons will be closed and rehabilitated. New trails will be designed and constructed according to IMBA sustainable design principles* resulting in trails that have ‘flow’ and are fun to ride, as well as being environmentally sustainable.
Spring Gully Trail Network
The map opposite indicates the study area for the proposed Spring Gully Trail Network. The Bendigo Mountaing Bike Club is currently seeking funding to have a professional mountain bike trail design and construction company to create a master plan for the development of 30km of world class sustainable trails that will cater to riders of every fitness and skill level. We are hoping to create a riding experience on the same level as the best networks in Australia within 5km of the Bendigo CBD. Click image to enlarge.
The SGTN will become the northern gateway to the Goldfields Track which is a trail of state significance of approximately 200km in length. The SGTN will be one of 5 trail networks along its length along with the nearby Harcourt Trail Network which is due to begin construction later this year.
Why do we need new trails?
Although there are hundreds of kms of trails around Bendigo, many of these are poorly aligned, eroded and not sustainable in the long term. This leads to new trails being made nearby existing ones and the removal of more and more vegetation and erosion. The idea is with new sustainable trails that provide a much better rider experience will mean that informal trail building will be minimised and less maintenance is required. This means less time working and more time riding!
Why do we need a master plan?
The great thing about a master plan is that it allows for greater coordination of efforts into trail building and outlines which order the trails should be built for the best outcome. It also makes it easier to explain the objectives and benefits to others especially those with the funds to help such as government departments. This is critical when it comes to the construction phase.
How much will it cost?
The club currently has a funding application lodged with the State government for $40,000 to have the master plan completed. This will also include the flagging of each trail on site to make the project ‘rakehoe ready’. Of the $40,000 we have asked for a contribution from the state government of $28,000. We have already raised the remainder through the club and contributions from the City of Greater Bendigo and Goldfields Tourism Inc who are working with us on the project.
Who is involved?
As stated previously the City of Greater Bendigo and Goldfields Tourism Inc have assisted us financially but also supported us with advice and formal letters. Parks Victoria are the land managers and have also supported our funding application and have provided great assistance in the trail building we have done over the past few years. The club has been the main driving force for the project and has already started construction of a Green (Beginners) Loop while we are waiting for the master plan. This is already attracted about 300 riders a week. This is being built through our monthly working bees - please get in touch if you would like to be involved.
How long will it take?
We have been unlucky to date with our previous funding submissions but are optimistic that the new funding stream released mid 2015 will allow us to make a start on the master plan. The consultant work will take 2-3 months. We hope to have this completed by the end of 2015. The timing of the construction will depend upon the outcomes of the master plan and its recommendations for how the project might be staged. It could take 5-10 years to complete the whole network but we believe it will be worth the wait.
The club is still working on other things while we wait for funding including a new trail head pavilion, pump track and skills area.
The image opposite highlights what we have developed to date and includes:
- Connecting path to the Spring Gully Track which is a shared cycling and walking track that links back to the CBD.
- New shared walking/cycling loop around the reserve that links with the nearby Toy Library.
- New skills loop and more offroad riding/ skills area as an extension of the shared loop.
- Pump Track integrated with existing and new vegetation.
- New pavilion and hard \stand area for staging events and general community use with tables, bbq and a storage area for trail maintenance tools.
- Signage for both the trail network and road rides that head out to the south of Bendigo thus making the site a cycling hub that is inclusive of as many rider types as possible.
With the future development of a new trail network at Spring Gully there needs to be some supporting infrastructure to go with it.
Whist we are waiting for funding to be approved (and raising more funds ourselves) we have started looking at what could be done at the trail head. The trail head is the main arrival point for the network and ideally provides information on the network itself, toilets, shelter, parking, bike repair and washing facilities. All of these cost money and take a deal of work to implement. We have been working with the City of Greater Bendigo to develop some of these elements and more for the land adjacent to Wattle Drive.
We believe the location is ideal as it has high visibility from Spring Gully Road and is very accessible given its proximity to the city. We also see this as a fantastic assets for the junior development of cycling in Bendigo.
We really want to make the site useable and attractive for riders from young kids on balance bikes to bmxers performing tricks, mountain bike riders developing their technical skills and road riders heading out for 100km + rides and those just riding for recreation around the reserve as an extension of the Spring Gully track.
The trail head loops will be interconnected with the green loop which is about 65% complete now. The green loop will then link into the remainder of the 30km of trails proposed for the whole network.
Where not to Ride
When riding beside the Gold Fields track at the bottom of Mt Herbert, riders are discouraged from riding on the upper side of the water race (see image below). Not sure where Fastways is?
The Sandhurst Reference Area's status rates highly as a conservation area and is designated as Category 1a by the IUCN - see IUCN protected area categories.