News just in today, from the Ranger directly:
An update on where things are at - At our meeting on Tuesday, Garry, Angelo and myself began the task of reviewing the trail network and assessing it in accordance with Parks Victoria’s, Public Land Mountain Bike Guidelines, these only became available in to us in “final” format in June. The next step for us is to overlay flora and fauna, and cultural heritage maps over the maps provided by yourself. From this, we will have a much better understanding of what can legally remain, and what cannot. Once this exercise in completed, we will be in touch to discuss further. I would see future discussions being a combination of on-site and office meetings. Therefore, can I request that you remain patient and continue to enjoy the Park.
I'll keep you all informed with what I know as it comes to hand.
I predict that really great bit of trail overlooking the river far below, that passes by what appears to have been an old house (the remains of the chimney and stairs), will be marked as heritage. I've always wondered if it was some very old settlers house or something, and found it strange that it wasn't already cordoned off.
Originally Posted by emerthis
Or maybe it's just some house that nobody cares about and we've nothing to worry about. Hope for the latter.
I would hope that it would warrant some signage about what was there and why it's significant. So many riders ask what was there, and I can't tell them. This makes me a sad panda.
Originally Posted by nuclear_powered
I think the technical nature of the trail right near the cliff edge is probably a bigger concern for them - but you're right, it hasn't been cordoned off (yet) - so here's hoping!
With luck a bit of fencing would be sufficient for protection. I think it's the old RAAF base - from the Victorian Heritage Register (go here:Victorian Heritage Database and search for "Janefield 13 RAAF Complex"):
Originally Posted by nuclear_powered
Janefield 13 RAAF Complex
224-228 PLENTY ROAD BUNDOORA, Whittlesea City
Show Place Maps and Streetview
Heritage Inventory (HI) Number
For further details, contact the local council or go to Planning Schemes Online.
Level of Significance
For public view
Heritage Inventory Citation
High - medium
Statement of Significance
Heritage Inventory History of Site: Dating to the 1940s - a training establishment for the RAAF and WRAAF. Tin buildings were removed when the site fell into disuse. Scouts may have used the site subsequently.
RAAF complex. Several ruins of buildings, concrete foundations, drains, steps. Dating to the 1940s, it served as a training establishment for the RAAF and WRAAF. Tin buildings were removed when the site fell into disuse.
Janefield 13, at 224-228 Plenty Road Bundroora,is a RAAF complex characterised by several ruins of buildings, concrete foundations, drains and steps. Dating to the 1940s, it served as a training establishment for the RAAF and WRAAF. Tin buildings were removed when the site fell into disuse.
Usage/Former Usage: Heritage Inventory Present Use: Vacant
Year Construction Started 1940
Heritage Act Categories Heritage Inventory Site
Municipality WHITTLESEA CITY
You can be a happy panda now.
Originally Posted by emerthis
I've fallen off right at the worst spot near there (pedal strike). I was unharmed, fortunately the slope is not really that steep when you're actually down there, it looks steeper from above.
We've had several people fall off at that exact same spot. High drama, but no consequence. It's actually a great spot for challenging your balance skills and laughing at failed attempts, due to the minimal risk involved with actually falling off.
Originally Posted by cowpat
Very interesting about the RAAF base. Looking at that now.
To clarify some of what's caught the Ranger's attention, here are some pics of the area which needs the most work. Why is there so much rubbish around? Is it really necessary to lay out bits of carpet, and leave plastic bottles, drums, and other junk around? If you want to take photos of people doing jumps, surely you could just go to the tip if you want it looking like this?
This is one of the signs near the jumps. I don't remember it saying anything about trails being shut down - which is surprising, to be honest.
This pile of dirt (and other rubbish, house bricks, etc) is not local soil. The original jump was a pile of local soil - so who's bringing building waste in to build jumps?
Why the carpet? You can't just dump rubbish in the Park and expect the Rangers not to do anything about it.
This one may have been left alone if the hole after the kicker hadn't been dug out, making it un-rollable. The waist-height stump next to it is also a recipe for disaster.
Why were these trees cut at all in the first place? Now they're marked for removal, because they shouldn't have been left more than a couple of inches out of the ground.
This one shows car debris which has been there for years (pity the owner of the 73 Civic which must have been stripped hereabouts) - but it's just an example of the Park looking more like a rubbish tip than an environmental showcase.
The pics below are of the closed trail at the University Hill end of the XC loop at the southern end of the Park. Apparently someone did ride their bike off there, hurt themselves pretty badly, and were only found by Parks staff when they happened to be there assessing the damage.
I have suggested we re-route the trail away from the area, but this is still a negotiation in progress.
Hopefully these few pics help to explain why Parks have felt the need to take some action. Please contact either me, or the Ranger directly if you want to be involved with the discussion about how things should be done.
It's so easy to get vehicles into that place. I see and hear them from my place all the time. At least once a month some idiot gets stuck at the bottom of the pipeline fireroad near the pipe bridge. I can't help but laugh at how stupid they, yet how little Parks have done to appropriately manage access. Entry points allowed to remain open, no signs to deter vehicles and/or motorbikes.
Personally I think it is a complete cop out by Parks. There are many far greater environmental issues going on in there and they appear to have chosen mountain bikers as scape goats. Truth is, they have sat on their arse's for far too long and let these things to accumulate.
The erosion, vehicles, motorbikes and rubbish dumping is a bit out of control and I have never seen a Parks vehicle patrolling in there.
In reference to you comments of the jumps, where you say to larger double would have been left alone if the center hadn't been dug out, well that is where they got the dirt from to build the jumps to begin with. It has always been like that. It was not designed to be rollable. Rollable jumps encourage damage to the lip and reduce the effectiveness of the jump.
The pile of dirt/garbage that was imported, was not imported to make a jump. It was dumped rubbish by an unrelated (to mtb'ing) individual. There was never a jump there to begin with either. But the rubbish was dumped in the middle of the track and people have now ridden over it and packed in it, giving the perception that it was on purpose for bikes. Truth is, that pile of rubbish impedes your run in to the true jump line.
Carpet is frequently used on dirt jumps to stop the lip and landings getting so beat up. It is often used in places that have very dry dirt and/or have difficulty accessing water. It may look unsightly, and yes it is technically an introduced object, but it is not dumped or abandoned.
I still shake my head at those tree stumps. I remember swearing out loud when I first saw them soon after they had been cut. What a complete idiot to have done that. I also don't like seeing star pickets being brought it and left protruding from the ground. Very dangerous.
Anyway, it is what it is. Will wait and see what Parks decide to do now.
I used to see them quite often on the north side. It was always one dude in a 4WD, just cruising around the tracks in there. He'd give us a nod as we flew past him, and that was that. Reckon I saw him (or someone else in same truck) at least half a dozen times.
Originally Posted by Yippee_Ki_YayMF
But I haven't been over that side for quite a while. And I too have never seen a vehicle, or Parks employee, in the southside area at all.
Hope we get the opportunity to get in there and clean the whole place up one day. Such an opportunity for both a kickarse XC network, and some really good Cressy-style runs.
I reckon doing a bit of a rubbish clean-up is a great idea. Whether we wait for Parks or not to do it. It's probably better if we can do it with them, just to show the full extent of the debris from the housing estates, and perhaps also how little is being left trail-side by riders and walkers.
The short and sharp rocky gully crossing on the south side has suffered a bit recently. I hope to approach them with a suggestion to use some of the old pipes from the gully next to the broken road, to improve that little crossing permanently. Meanwhile, take care when you go into it.
The one you cross after heading down from the aforementioned historic house/tin shed area? Where you turn hard left immediately after crossing?
Originally Posted by emerthis
On a side note: I just noticed on the YY FB page they're holding an IMBA trail building workshop in November. Might be a good opportunity to skill up before anything happens in the gorge area? I personally have only contributed about 50m of the southside XC loop, and it's held up pretty well so far, but I'd like to know how to do it all proper and stuff
Yep, that's the one. I shifted a few rocks back into place yesterday arvo, but it needs some major remedial works.
Originally Posted by nuclear_powered
The trail building workshop would be good to have under the belt/s of one or more of the local crew. While we don't want to end up with an overly sanitised, 3-foot wide bikepath, certainly some of the building skills would be nice to know about.
By the way, there will be a few of us riding from Kariboo Grove tonight, likely at 6.30pm.
Sounds like some good things are happening in the area! It would really be an amazing place for a proper trail network
Barry Coombes, Ranger from Parks Vic, is going to attend the IMBA Sustainable Trail Building workshop hosted by Red Hill Riders next month! MTBA may also be there.
I think this is pretty good news for all the riders who use the Gorge, because he will get to see how experienced trail builders work together with land managers to create something we will all be able to enjoy for a long time to come.
He has also asked if we (the riders who use the Gorge) could start an organised group, like Smiths Gully MTB, like Lysterfield District Trail Riders, like YYMTB, for example.
I know what's involved with getting such a club running - there's a fair bit of paperwork and a few small start-up costs (registering business name & ABN, incorporating the association with a constitution, President, Vice-president, Secretary, Treasurer & Public Officer), and it needs to have a postal address too - so a PO Box might also need to be acquired. Other members of the Facebook group (Plenty Gorge MTB), and readers here on MTBR & on Rotorburn, are also well-versed in running these things - but what we need to do is get organised. I can't spare much time myself, due to my heavy involvement with MTB Melbourne and a new baby girl in the family, but I'm happy to help out as best I can, and I will put in some of the start-up costs if need be.
The Ranger has also asked about organising another meeting with me, to discuss progress, so I will keep you posted as that comes along.
Notes from meeting with Parks Vic Rangers re mountain-biking in Plenty Gorge
I met today with Rangers Barry Coombes and Garry French at the Park Office in Gordons Rd, South Morang. We discussed how things have progressed up to this point (good things, bad things, and general observations along the way), and started to consider how the future of mountain biking in Plenty Gorge Park might be best approached.
Barry recently attended an IMBA trail building workshop hosted by Red Hill Riders on the Mornington Peninsula. He had with him an IMBA book that shows best practice in trail design and construction, and some other notes from the two-day presentation. He said he is very interested in applying the principles to the existing trail network in Plenty Gorge, however there are a few things that need to be addressed first.
Which existing trails will be endorsed?
This depends on an ongoing assessment of cultural heritage, environmental conservation and sustainability. The Rangers have walked about 14km of the existing trail network between the southern edge of the Park and the Blue Lake lookout. Most of the existing trails appear to be acceptable at first glance.
Where will the labour and any necessary funding come from?
Parks Vic has a very limited budget and not many ‘men on the ground’ to do the works which will be necessary to get the trails to an acceptable standard (where necessary) or to maintain them – so it’s necessary to get an organised MTB group together to help out with this stuff.
What sort of ‘organised MTB group’ are we talking about here?
Having a formalised club structure, dedicated to advocacy of mountain biking, trail building and maintenance, and being specific to Plenty Gorge, has several immediate benefits:
1. It will give mountain bikers input into the process. It gives us a united voice to speak with, and a way for Parks Vic to communicate with us effectively as a group.
2. It gives us the opportunity to apply for funding from external bodies, such as MTBA, government and sporting/recreation organisations.
3. It provides a way for us to work together with Parks Vic to develop a plan as to what exactly we’re aiming to achieve, how it will be done (and on what timeframe).
4. Getting affiliated with MTBA provides riders with benefits including insurance, options for competitive (race) licences, and membership of the larger lobbying body which represents MTB interests throughout Australia.
5. It enables us to organise working bees and fundraising activities to support trail work in Plenty Gorge.
Will trails be closed?
Once the plan is set out, some trails will need to be closed. The aim is to continue to provide an extensive loop with options catering for all levels of rider – so before closing trails, decisions will be made about whether the closure should be temporary or permanent, about whether there are alternative routes available or desirable. It is also intended that this will be done in full consultation with the MTB club.
Where will the trails be located?
The existing trail network in the southern end of Plenty Gorge Park, in the area bounded by Memorial Drive on the north, Oatland Rd on the east, the Park’s southern boundary near Booyan Crescent, and University Hill/Janefield on the west. There is also scope in future for some revegetated open areas to be included, providing even more space for MTB trails.
Will all the endorsed trails be “World Trail” styled freeways?
No. That’s not the idea. I have made it quite clear, and the Rangers also understand that the appeal of Plenty Gorge is its ‘natural’ trails, with embedded rocks, roots, logs and other technical features. Of course, there will be some loops rated as Green – but there already are such trails there, and it will simply be a matter of rating each trail according to technical difficulty and risk, and planning out a way of linking these up so that beginner users can negotiate their way around.
All of the endorsed trails will be marked, signposted and rated.
There will be trails rated as White, Green, Blue, & Black. Which is which is yet to be determined – that’s going to be mostly up to us – but as an example, most fire roads will probably also classify as White trails for beginners and family groups. They’ll be two-way, easy, and mostly flat.
At each trailhead (or entry point to the area of the Park dedicated to MTB) there will be an information sign showing the trail network – much like there is at any other MTB facility around the world.
How will any trail work be done?
Parks Vic would prefer that the majority of trail work is done by hand, as bringing any earthmoving equipment into the Park (even a mini-digger like a Dingo or DitchWitch) complicates things by needing detailed assessments, months of paperwork, and other bureaucratic shenanigans. Powered wheelbarrows might be acceptable, but digging will need to be done by hand.
Some built structures may be needed – such as small bridges over erosion gullies – however the preferred method will be to make any obstacles rideable, by reinforcement (generally rock armouring) and careful consideration of drainage and erosion.
Will there be any DH tracks?
At this stage, no. The Rangers have said that the most sensitive parts of the Park are probably what would be most attractive to a potential DH trail. Also, most DH riders are mobile and able to access other DH-specific facilities.
However, should the Club choose to advocate the DH cause, I see no reason why this couldn’t be explored in future.
Will there be a freeride park or any North Shore style structures to ride?
Similarly, not likely. What the Rangers seem to find attractive about XC trails is the minimum of trail maintenance required and minimal deemed risk associated with it.
Again though, this is something the Club could certainly investigate and canvass again in the future.
What about the dirt jumps?
This is going to depend on how the affected riders choose to be involved with the Club, for their needs to be properly considered and addressed. If they get on board, their voice will be just as important to the Club’s advocacy as that of any other group of riders. However if they choose to work outside the Club structure, Parks Vic will have to work with them as individuals, much as they are doing now.
So what is the plan?
At this stage, to get mountain bikers organised into a Plenty Gorge MTB Club.
Next: to get started on planning the future of MTB trails in the Park, together with the Rangers.
Then: start on actual trail works, dividing the Park into manageable chunks and focusing on one area at a time (e.g the area in the southern part of the Park, then the area east and south of the Plenty Service Reservoir, then the area in the west, up towards Blue Lake).
How do we get involved?
We need to create a Club – and I see no reason not to call it Plenty Gorge MTB (but I’m not calling the shots).
The Club will need to have a formal structure, including President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. It will need to have a postal address to receive mail.
The Rangers have said that they would encourage the Club to use its meeting room at South Morang, and that the schedule for that room should enable monthly meetings, provided they were booked in advance. The room is air-conditioned, has a white board and chairs & tables.
The Club will also need be a financial entity, as part of its role will be to raise funds and, if applicable, receive monetary grants. So it will need to have a bank account, ABN & TFN.
First: join the Plenty Gorge MTB Facebook group
I will help organise and coordinate the first meeting.
At that meeting we will need to nominate and elect the Committee members (President, VP, etc).
We will need to decide on what the Club’s Constitution will be, and start drawing that up.
We will also need to discuss the other administrative business – such as Club name, getting that business name registered, getting the Club registered as an incorporated association, organising bank account, club fees, etc.
I am personally committed to this cause, and I will help as best I can. This is your opportunity to get involved, so jump on board!
Emerson Thistlethwaite, Greensborough.
There will be a meeting aimed at creating a Plenty Gorge MTB Club, on Sunday 8th of December 2013m starting at 10am. The meeting will be held at the Parks Vic Offices meeting room at 40 Gordons Rd, Sth Morang.
Please come along if you'd like to be involved.
Anyone who's still watching this thread, please note that things are still progressing, as is the wont of bureaucrats - although I don't see much in the way of responses here, so we'll probably stick to rotorburn and FB for news.
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