The following is an extract from the Hansard for the Legislative Assembly from 30 July 2019 – words from Mr GREG PIPER (State MP for Lake Macquarie):
“There are a thousand good reasons to visit Lake Macquarie, but tonight I will inform the House about just one of them. A week ago I visited the Awaba Mountain Bike Park, which is operated by the Hunter Mountain Bike Association. It is not the first time I have been there to open a new part of the facility or to deliver some good news on funding assistance—and I am very hopeful it will not be the last. Nestled in the spectacular Watagans National Park in the west of my electorate, the club has been quietly and efficiently creating a world-class destination for mountain bikers. The trails not only cater for the large mountain biking community in the Hunter region but also attract hundreds of visitors from Sydney and elsewhere every weekend. The club has hosted State and national race events.
When I visited the park in September last year it was to announce that I had been able to help to secure $450,000 for the club from the State Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund. Thank you, State Government! That money is being used to build four completely new trails, expand others, install better signage and seats at rest points, improve the access road and event hub and create better trails for experienced riders. Among those new trails was one for adaptive MTB, which is the term given to the modified bikes used by disabled riders. When I was there I met a man called Hank Duchateau, a disabled rider in a custom-built three-wheeler. Hank and his wife live in Coffs Harbour but they regularly make the five-hour trip to Lake Macquarie so Hank can ride or compete at the Awaba facility.
Last week I was very pleased to have been invited back to be part of the official opening of another new track that the State funding has allowed for. The development trail is purpose built for a broader riding ability including families, children, beginners and young riders with a disability. The new trail is not just providing a world-class venue for families who like a casual ride in the national park but also introducing a new generation to competitive mountain bike racing. The Hunter Mountain Bike Association is the oldest of its type in New South Wales. It was formed in 1985 and held its first major event—the Paterson Classic—in the Hunter Valley to promote recreational and competitive mountain biking. In 2007, after a year of negotiations with the Forestry Corporation of NSW, the club was granted access to a large section of Watagans forest, which we now know as the Awaba Mountain Bike Park.
The initial trails were built by volunteers under the oversight of Forestry. They included general recreational trails for families, beginners and children and also more challenging cross-country and downhill trails. Those trails quickly became popular in the booming mountain biking community and enthusiasts from around the State came to use them. The club has continually sought to improve its trails, both old and new, and gained more national attention when it recently hosted national competitions in the downhill and cross-country disciplines. I should add that while all the work on the trails is done by volunteers, each trail needed to go through a Federal approval process and was guided by environmental impact statements from qualified ecologists to ensure that no damage was done to the flora and fauna of the national park. As I mentioned earlier, a dedicated trail for adaptive MTB riding by disabled riders was completed in 2016. The 1.6-kilometre track is used for both social and competitive rides and I am told it offers some exhilarating downhill sections for disabled riders. The Hunter Mountain Bike Association boasts a number of national title holders and world champions within its ranks.
While the club has done a tremendous job in promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, it is also doing a fantastic job in promoting the Lake Macquarie region. As I mentioned, every weekend the Awaba trails are attracting hundreds of people from the Sydney area and from areas further afield. Many visitors come in groups and stay nearby for the weekend, so the club is not just providing an all-inclusive world-class sporting venue; it has also created a genuine tourist destination for mountain bike enthusiasts that is helping to put Lake Macquarie on the tourist map. While I earlier acknowledged the funding assistance from the Government, I should also acknowledge DPI Forestry, Lake Macquarie City Council and the many volunteers who have assisted the club in so many ways. In particular, I acknowledge the tireless efforts of the club’s executive including Clint Musgrove, Dallas Barham, Andrew Hardy, Rohan Betts, Dean Kozlik, Coleen Boyes and Andrew and Paula Gresham. I say well done to all involved”
The Hunter Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) and Lake Macquarie City Council are excited to announce that the new Development Trail at Awaba Mountain Bike Park will officially open on Sunday 21 July 2019.
The new trail is proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with Lake Macquarie City Council, Hunter Mountain Bike Association and Forestry Corporation of NSW.
The Development Trail is a specially designed track that enables wider community access to the beauty of Lake Macquarie’s forests. The trails will accommodate riders of all abilities including beginner riders, young children and riders living with a disability.
Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said this new community asset is the result of a truly collaborative effort across a number of stakeholders to provide Australia’s first mountain bike trail purpose built for the whole community to use.
“Lake Macquarie has a strong offering of active sports tourism and cultural experiences and this new trail provides even more opportunity for visitors to discover our City’s adventurous side.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro congratulated Hunter Mountain Bike Association and Lake Macquarie City Council on the trail which he said was funded with the help of a $450,000 grant from the Stronger Country Communities Fund.
“I’m delighted to congratulate the Lake Macquarie community on this new Development Trail which will give more people living locally the chance to get outdoors and get active while enjoying the spectacular natural beauty of this region.
“Communities are seeing real results from the investments this NSW Government made last term, in this case, it’s the addition of quality sports infrastructure that will give local youth a place to recreate and that will attract tourists who go on to spend at local cafes and shops.
“The now $400 million Stronger Country Communities Fund has been a huge hit in regional NSW and it is transforming community spaces but also providing a much needed stimulus to regional towns and cities.”
When complete, the Mountain Bike Park development will include a new all-abilities gravity trail, an all-mountain trail, a flow trail and upgrades to signage and trail features (Bridges, shade structures, seating and trail heads) – maintaining the Awaba facility as Lake Macquarie’s world class mountain biking jewel.
The construction of the Development Trail was made possible by the award of a NSW Government Grant in 2018 through the Stronger Country Communities Fund. The Grant application and subsequent build is being managed through a collaborative partnership between HMBA, Lake Macquarie City Council, Forestry Corporation of NSW and the NSW Government.
Details of the opening
Date: Sunday 21 July 2019
The opening will precede a club race day for both downhill and Cross Country. Invitees are welcome to stay and enjoy the spectacle. The main trail will be open to the public from 11.30am.
Place: Entry to Park – Corner of Mt Faulk Rd and Jenkins Rd, Cooranbong NSW (Between Freemans Waterhole and Cooranbong)
Coffee and snacks will be available at the event.
Dress: Awaba is located in the Australian Bush. Attendees are encouraged to wear closed in shoes. Other creepy-crawlies are usually dormant at this time of year.
HMBA Contact: Clint Musgrove (Club President)
Phone: 0402 032 283
Well Round 2 of the MTBA National Downhill series, hosted by the Hunter Mountain Bike Association, has been run and won over this past weekend. And what an event it was!
Saturday’s runs started with an open practice session. The weather was not on our side and there were light showers rolling through on and off throughout the morning’s practice – fortunately this settled the dust on what was a very dry track and provided a lot of grip for the riders.
Lunchtime saw the end of practice and the official opening of the event with a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country performed by Uncle Bill and his Awabakal family. This ceremony was also attended by the Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Kay Fraser, and the Minister for Port Stephens / Shadow Minister for the Hunter, Kate Washington.
With the Welcome to Country finished it was onto the official seeding runs. All was well with the weather until the final few runs saw a torrential downpour descend upon Monkey, just as Jack Moir was sitting in the start gate ready for his run. Turns out that the rain did not worry Jack as he went on to put down the fastest time in men’s elite, just beating Graham Mudd for the top spot in seeding.
The top spot in the ladies seeding was taken out by Danni Beecroft, just edging out Tegan Molloy. And in a first for HMBA, Adaptive Mountain Biking makes an appearance at the Downhill Nationals at Awaba – Click here to watch Hank!
Sunday morning greeted us once again with showers on and off during the practice runs. Thankfully the weather steadily improved throughout the day, ensuring that the racing was close in all of the categories.
Tegan Molloy was in top form, taking out the Elite Ladies over Danni Beecroft, who unfortunately crashed on her run but was still fast enough for second place. Lisa Mathison, Katie Lawlor and Kellie Weinert completed the podium.
The final category of the day was Elite Men. Well to say the racing was tight is an understatement, as with only 1 rider left to complete their attack on Monkey the top 4 riders were separated by less than 2 seconds!!!
Once again Jack Moir set the fastest time of the day with a smoking run of 3 minutes and 24 seconds, taking out the win from Graeme Mudd by a margin of just over 6 seconds. Jackson Frew, Joel Willis and Josh Clark rounded out the podium.
Full results for all categories can be found at the following link: http://www.vola-racing.com/msportspro/huntermtb/
The Hunter Mountain Bike Association would like to say a warm thank you to our event sponsors – Lake Macquarie City Council, Forestry Corporation NSW, Civmec, Mondraker and Lusty Industries.
We would like to also say a huge thank you to volunteers for the event – without volunteers and sponsors these events do not happen.
Thank you to everyone that attended the event over the weekend – we hope to see you all on track soon.