7 April 2024

Helensburgh mountain bike park is back in action - and volunteers have big plans for the site

| Zoe Cartwright
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Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club volunteers

Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club volunteers spent their Easter long weekend tidying up the Helensburgh mountain bike track. Photo: Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club.

Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club members had an extra reason to crack a beer over the Easter long weekend after the fences that have surrounded the mountain bike park for months were taken down.

It’s been eleven months since material containing asbestos was found on the site in May 2023, and Wollongong City Council has finished removing contaminated soil material from the park. The site is now safe and open for public access.

Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club (HORCC) president Wayne Teal said members big and small were over the moon to be allowed back.

“We were stoked; it felt really celebratory,” he said.

“There were little kids up there with their mums and dads on Saturday, we had beautiful weather over the weekend and word must have gotten around because five or six older kids came from out of area to get into it.

“It was fantastic.”

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The work – and time – needed to remove the asbestos has left the park a little worse for wear, but HORCC volunteers were quick to get to work.

Wayne said about 10 members dedicated part of their long weekend to tidying up jumps, whipper-snipping, pulling weeds and solidifying takeoffs and landings to make them safe for young riders.

There’s still work to be done, including rubbish removal, but for the moment club members are happy to see the track back open for the community.

“It’s such an important part of our community,” Wayne said.

“It brings people in from out of area and boosts our hospitality businesses, people walk their dogs or go for a run around it, we hold events here and there used to be a fortnightly mums and bubs picnic.

“We promote women in sport and fundraise for all sorts of things. The whole track has been built by volunteers who have full-time jobs. Most of it has been done by hand, occasionally if we can get funds we get a guy on a digger to help.”

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A spokesperson for Wollongong City Council acknowledged the majority of the site’s mountain bike tracks were impacted by the asbestos remediation work and said the council would meet with the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club (HORCC) to discuss the re-establishment of tracks and ensure contaminated soil did not re-enter the site.

Wayne hopes to go one step further. He said the club had secured funds for a track designer to take a look at what could be done, and the club hoped to bring the standard of the track up in line with other parks in the region.

“It’s been fantastic for the past 10 years, but in the meantime there have been incredible parks built in places like Narooma, Eden and Dungog,” he said.

“We want to bring it up to that level with a good green section for little kids, a skills park, technical area, and we’ve asked local juniors to give submissions of what they want to see – they’ve asked for a jump line to be put in, a wall ride, that sort of stuff, to make it fun.

“One of the visions we’ve got is we would love to put a pump track in somewhere – I don’t like them, but kids love pump tracks.

“They’re suitable for little kids and big kids; they’re a great place to learn how to ride a bike.”

Wayne said the club deeply appreciated the support of Heathcote MP Maryanne Stuart, and thanked those involved with managing the remediation, including Wollongong City Council and NSW National Parks.

For updates on the Helensburgh mountain bike park, including opportunities to get involved, follow the club’s Facebook page.

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