Collie makes tracks

IN a major coup for the town, Collie has been identified as one of the three WA areas for future mountain bike trail development.

The trails will be developed as part of a plan to promote the region as a destination for one of the world’s fastest growing sports.

The South West Mountain Bike Plan was developed with WA’s peak cycling body WestCycle with support from the departments of Parks and Wildlife and Sport and Recreation, and the WA Mountain Bike Association.

It found that Collie, Margaret River and Pemberton were high priority areas for development.

Collie Mountain Bike Club president Erik Mellegers said the plan was a significant milestone for mountain biking and tourism in the region.

“The plan was important as it is an official government document which will open up all sorts of funding for development,” he said.

Mr Mellegers said he had already been working in conjunction with the Collie Shire and Department of Parks and Wildlife to improve bike trails in the region for several years.

“What put us ahead of everyone else was, before David Wilcox [from West Cycle] had come down or a master plan was even mentioned, we as a mountain bike club had already sat down and started developing a staged plan for Collie – which has made its way into the master plan,” he said.

One of the things in the plan is to alter the Munda Biddi trail and link it with the south side of Collie to areas such as Minninup and the Collie River.

“At the moment there is a spur that comes through Collie, but if you wanted to do the track – you don’t have to come through town,” Mr Mellegers said.

“The new track will get more of the riders to come through Collie.

“So that’s a great chance to show off our greatest resource, which is the river.”

Mr Mellegers said the trails are being developed for all levels of riders – for the serious rider and for families who just want to enjoy the scenery.

“It opens up opportunities for events to be run in town, which will increase our profile on the world stage,” he said.

“The potential is there for Collie to become the adventure capital of WA - it just comes down to promotion.”

Shire president Wayne San ford said he was pleased that Collie had been identified as a nationally significant Mountain Biking Area.

“This is a feather in our cap, and recognises the significant opportunity both to the local economy, but also to state tourism,” he said.

“Collie’s natural environment has a lot to offer the mountain biking fraternity, and mountain bikers have a lot to offer to Collie.”

Shire chief executive officer David Blurton said the Shire’s Trails Planning Advisory Committee had been facilitating aspects of the Master Plan, with some key recommendations of the Master Plan already being supported by the Committee and approved by Council.

“The Trails Planning Advisory Committee also facilitates equestrian and hiking and other forms of trails,” he said.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the state government would continue working with the mountain bike community to build more trails across the South West on land managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife - in line with the plans.

“There has been increasing demand for purpose-built facilities and a more managed approach towards mountain biking in WA, and we are responding to that demand, particularly since releasing the WA Mountain Bike Strategy earlier this year,” he said.

The new trails would attract mountain bikers from all over Australia and the world, according to Sport and Recreation Minister Mia Davies.

“Mountain biking has become incredibly popular in recent years, so we expect new trails will not only bring more cycling enthusiasts to our South West, but also encourage more people to take up this activity,” she said.

“What better reason to get the bike out and visit the South West than a network of well-managed, well-constructed trails in stunning natural settings.“