A world-class mountain bike facility has opened at Belrose.

The Bare Creek Bike Park was opened yesterday afternoon (Thursday, 10 December) at Crozier Road, Belrose. It will be open every day from 7.00am to 7.00pm.

The park features nine downhill bike trails, skills and dirt jump areas, a pump track, walking trails, a dedicated access road, as well as amenities and on-site parking.

The bike park is built on six-hectares (6ha) and suits riders of all skill levels but is being hailed as easily the best public facility in Australia, and quite likely the world… at Belrose.

The bike park is the culmination of years of local debate over the future use of reclaimed land that was once used as a tip. After almost 50 years of landfill activity, the Belrose Waste Management Centre ceased operations in late 2014.

Jason Lam

Jason Lam

The facility has been built by globally-renowned Australian company Dirt Art, which specialises in the design and construction of mountain bike trails. Project Manager for the construction of the Bare Creek Bike Park was Jason Lam, who lives at Forestville.

“I actually live five minutes away from here. I’ve been working with Dirt Art for the last four years, I manage all our projects around the country. This is probably only the second project I haven’t had to fly to. It’s unusual for me to be able to drive to a project and manage it.

“It’s nice to be able to have a project close to home. This will no doubt grow from here. We’ve catered from beginner right through to pro-line riders. All my trail crew are world-class riders. I often forget that when I go riding with my trail crew.

Bare Creek Bike Park at Belrose

“A lot of people didn’t realise it would be this big. We made the conscious decision to make this a world-class facility. There’s nothing like this. We travel around the world every year riding, that’s what we do. There’s nothing like this in terms of public facility.

“A lot of these guys take a few months off during the year to race overseas in the World Cup and Enduro series. They are all world-class athletes. Then they come home and work for us. They travel to each of our jobs around the country. It’s a passionate crew,” said Mr Lam.

Asked how the new facility might be received by the mountain biking community locally, Mr Lam said there was massive pent up demand and the bike park would quickly become a tourism drawcard.

“We do a market survey bi-annually. NSW alone has the highest proportion of mountain bikers nationally and the least amount of formal trails. If you look at Hobart for instance, they have 120km of formal trails. Their council has a full-time trail crew to help maintain the trails.

“In Sydney alone you’ve probably got no more than 20km of formal trail. The trails that we ride every afternoon, evening, weekends, the vast majority are informal and the majority are on the Northern Beaches.

“The Northern Beaches has become renowned for being technical, rocky trails. It’s quite unique. I travel to Whistler in Canada every year to ride and you come home and appreciate what you have in the Northern Beaches.

“There’s a unique opportunity here. I’ve said from day one if you can show Council and the land managers here that there is a need for something like this. I’ve been trying to tell Council since day one, you’re not going to get a hundred visitors, you’re going to get thousands.

“People will travel from all over the place to get here. When we started this project and put photos on our social media, we had people from all over the world asking about it,” said Mr Lam.

 

Bare Creek Bike Park at Belrose

Mr Lam said the opportunity for the Northern Beaches is significant and many places that currently accommodate riders could be formalised into proper facilities.

“Take Manly Dam. I’ve ridden that for years and there’s so much potential there that’s lost because it’s not a purpose built facility. It’s a mish mash of access roads. You’ve got this amazing facility, a quite iconic experience.

“Right now you don’t even see the dam, you have no visual or physical connection to the dam. But if you realigned the trail and got snippets of the dam through the whole loop and then you finish back on the dam wall in the precinct, it becomes a really iconic trail destination. There’s complexity around it but it’s a huge opportunity,” said Mr Lam.

Asked about the potential for damage to bushland caused by informal trails such as the one recently demolished by Council at Seaforth, Mr Lam said that informal trails should be discouraged but were a reality if no formal alternatives were offered.

“Building your own tracks is hard work so people only do it when there’s no alternative. In Sydney that’s especially the case because our network of formal trails is very small. We’ve got this huge demand to ride trails.

“There’s a lot of opportunity within NSW, we do work in every other state, it’s only in the last year to two years that NSW is slowly dipping their toe in and seeing that it has been successful elsewhere,” said Mr Lam.

Matt Ward

Matt Ward

Matt Ward from Trail Care, which has been engaged with Council for a number of years over the provision of mountain biking facilities, said the new facility was unique and possibly the best in the world.

“If this isn’t the best urban mountain bike park in the world, I’ll be surprised. The facilities individually are all absolutely world-class, certainly best in Australia in each class but the way they fit together in a natural amphitheatre is unbelievable. The views are absolutely spectacular from all around the park. There is nothing else like this,” said Mr Ward.

Jonathan O’Dea

Jonathan O’Dea

Member for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea said the bike park reflected government’s commitment to pursue good community outcomes and return sites to community use.

“It’s important we have public land assets that are delivering green open spaces that can be used by the community. The creation of this bike park is an example of the type of work that the government’s environmental service group is doing to remediate some of the state’s legacy landfill sites.

“The completion of this project is welcome news for local residents, and community and mountain biking representatives who have worked with us for many years to achieve this transformation.

“It took three years and 80,000 cubic metres of sandstone to rehabilitate this former tip site and create a world-class mountain bike park that is not only a boon for residents but will attract professional riders from across the country.

“This has been a combined effort the community and government should be proud of and we invite residents and visitors to come and test out the bike and walking trails and enjoy these new open spaces,” said Mr O’Dea.

Mayor Michael Regan

Michael Regan

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan accepted the handover of the facility to Council saying despite some early hurdles, the outcome was extraordinary.

“It is unique, it has been hard work. I know Council is sometimes belligerent and hard work, but deliberately. We were worried it could be quite a liability but we had the right intent and the community was behind us so we got around that.

“I want to say thank you to the mountain biking community in general for their patience. For this to be the first of it’s kind, one of a kind in Australia will be internationally recognised is extraordinary.

“When I first became Mayor in 2008, Jonathan was one of the first people to congratulate me and made an appointment to come and see me about this site. He told me the community had a vision that was worth pursuing,” said Mayor Regan.

Images: Wesley Lonergan/NSW Government

Video: Nick Waygood/NSW Government & 9News/Nine Network