IMPORTANT: TRAIL MAINTENANCE ACTIVITIES IN CHARLES DARWIN NATIONAL PARK
Charles Darwin National Park is the only legally recognised off-road cycling location in the Top End. This means that its use as a dedicated off road cycling venue is formally recognised and supported by the Northern Territory Government and that trails are protected against use and damage by other vehicles such as motorbikes.
The NT Department of Parks and Wildlife has an agreement with DORC which recognises DORC as the peak body representing the Top End off road cycling community. It also recognises that the park is valuable to other user groups and in particular contains some rare and endangered plant and animal species as well as a number of Aboriginal sacred sites. It requires DORC to respect these other users.
The agreement requires DORC to ensure that the trails are sustainably managed and maintained for the benefit of all stakeholders and in return acknowledges that funding is required to further develop and improve the existing trail network. This arrangement is working well and one obvious benefit to date has been the government’s funding of the construction of the Wirraway and Spitfire trails.
What is not working well is unauthorised changes to the trails. These include the construction of B lines and modification of obstacles at various places within the park. These modifications may be well-intentioned but are being made without the knowledge of DORC and have the potential to contravene the agreement and erode the relationship and support of government. Similarly, some riders have “reopened” tracks that were closed in accordance with the agreed trail development program.
With regard to unauthorised trail modifications, most are resulting in the trails becoming less technical in nature, ie easier to ride. This has two unfortunate implications;
- The trails become less challenging and enjoyable to more experienced riders, and
- The removal or bypassing of obstacles reduces opportunities for less experienced riders to develop their own skills.
DORC is endeavouring to manage the trails in a way that ensures they cater for a range of rider needs and abilities. Unauthorised trail modification risks the integrity of the park as a venue catering for multiple skill levels. They also risk damaging the relationship between the off road cycling community and the NT Government which is its major sponsor.
The potential failure of the off road cycling community to respect the park in accordance with the current agreement could also impair the possibility of further areas becoming legally designated as off road cycling venues.
CDNP is continuing to develop as the Top End’s premier off road cycling location. To help achieve this further signage and clarification will be provided within the park and on social media. In the meantime, DORC encourages all off road cyclists (whether members or not) to become involved in trail maintenance days. DORC also encourages “private” trail maintenance days provided the modifications have been discussed and approved in advance.
If you love off road cycling please work with DORC to help manage the trails in a sustainable manner and in accordance with the agreement. Other than the removal of newly fallen branches etc., please do not make any modifications or detour to any trail without first discussing with DORC who can be contacted via their website or Facebook page.
Thank you for reading this and ensuring that we all continue to enjoy CDNP as a fun and challenging place to ride our bikes.