A network of more than 150 km of mountain bike trails near Mogo will be a game-changer for the South Coast according to a bike shop owner and mountain bike fanatic in Moruya.
Moruya Bicycles owner Angus Murphy says a draft masterplan for a major mountain bike trail network connecting the towns of Mogo and Batemans Bay has the potential to extend the Eurobodalla Shire’s tourism reach and dovetail into popular attractions such as the Mogo Zoo and the area’s many spectacular beaches.
“We’re spoilt with the bush we’ve got and the trail fairies that have been building tracks for some time now, but having a formal trail network of professional tracks is going to make the area explode with mountain bikers,” Mr Murphy told Region Media.
The proposal, currently on display for public comment, also has the potential to attract mountain bike enthusiasts from the Canberra and Snowy Mountains areas where professional trails attract riders from all parts of Australia for recreation and events.
Mr Murphy and local mountain bikers have been lobbying for the trails for at least the last four years, but have met a few hurdles with NSW Forestry in clearing the way for the 155 km network, comprising of about 125 km of new trails and the formalisation of 30 km of existing mountain bike trails in Mogo State Forest and Deep Creek Dam.
The network of 22 separate trails would link directly into Mogo village and Batehaven, making it highly accessible.
Eurobodalla Shire Council has engaged Dirt Art to develop a master plan which has a strong tourism and economic development focus.
Their master plan said the trails network has the potential to attract 45,000 visitors to Eurobodalla in its first year of operation, resulting in an estimated $11.8 million injection to the local economy.
Council’s planning director Lindsay Usher said the project had real potential to assist the shire’s economic recovery following the bushfires and COVID-19.
“The draft masterplan shows that there is a whole lot to be gained in capturing what is a steadily growing market of mountain bike enthusiasts, who flock to organised events and seek out adventurous trail networks,” Mr Usher said.
“We have a genuine opportunity to create a world-class mountain bike trail centre that will attract visitors from across NSW and around Australia.”
Mr Murphy said people have been pushing formal bike trails but have only recently been able to get the support needed for the proposal.
“We’ve always had locals building bike trails for locals, but this is huge because of the proximity of the coast to places like Sydney and diversity of activities here that makes it more attractive than what they have at Thredbo.
“This proposal has been a bit of a slow burn with various consultants doing reports to Council before we get to this point, rather than just being a few people wanting this to happen.
“There is a lot of motivation from Council and from [Minister for Transport and Roads, and Member for Bega] Andrew Constance, which helps the cause.”
Nature-based tourism, of which mountain-bike trail riding is a part, is a rapidly growing industry throughout NSW and received nearly 28.3 million international and domestic overnight nature-based visitors in 2017.
As Eurobodalla is known for its expansive areas of nature-based tourism, establishing Mogo as a premier adventure trail centre will have a significant economic benefit.
Mr Murphy said the trails will also provide a boost for employment with the need for people to maintain the bike trails all year-round.
“The biggest hurdle will be the ongoing maintenance of the trails and the concern is that if Council goes out and spends a lot of money making the trails, they need to be maintained so they don’t just wash away.
“We can’t wait for them to start digging the trails and we’re just super positive about it all. Once we get beyond the masterplan phase, it won’t take long to get in there and make the trails and get riding,” he said.
Council staff will hold a community drop-in session at John Street Reserve in Mogo this Saturday (26 September) from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm where residents and business operators can talk to Council staff about the draft plan.
Community members can view and provide their feedback on the draft Mogo Adventure Trails Hub Masterplan until 15 October.