By Kirra Grimes
WORKS to revive the Leongatha BMX track are progressing well, with a large donation of funds providing a much-needed boost to the volunteer-led project.
Founder of the South Gippsland BMX Club, Nathan Evans, recently accepted a $5000 cheque from the Leongatha and District Community Foundation, formerly known as the Apex Club, to support his efforts to bring the long-disused bike track on Horn Street up to competition standard.
It was members of the Apex Club that built the original bike track on the council-owned block back in the 1980s, and those that have remained in the area were pleased to see someone taking an active interest in the under-utilised community facility, explained Community Foundation treasurer Geoff Dean.
“It was a good track when we built it, but the problem was, by the time we finished it, all the kids were more interested in skateboards! So, it’s been languishing, unused for many years,” Geoff said.
“We’re delighted it’s been taken up and built on, especially by someone as enthusiastic as Nathan. It’s improved dramatically since he’s taken it on.”
The $5000 came from the sale of the Apex Club’s Leongatha caravan park, Geoff said.
The funds from the sale, around $500,000, were invested to establish the Community Foundation in 2016, with $30,000 in interest generated since that time, $25,000 of which has been distributed to worthy recipients in Leongatha, like Nathan, and other local causes such as road safety and anti-ice campaigns.
“The Community Foundation is about maintaining the legacy of the Apex Club, by continuing to contribute to community projects and causes, so that their original contribution lives on,” Geoff said.
“We’re very pleased to be able to help Nathan. He knows what he’s doing, and the next generation will benefit from that,” he said.
Nathan, a landscaper and lifelong BMX enthusiast from Korumburra, has spent the past six months volunteering his time and talents to improve the track and establish a BMX club, relying on donated labour and materials to complete the jobs he can’t do on his own.
He said the $5000 would be “stretched out” across the project as much as possible, with ideas including the purchase of race bikes so that potential BMX club members can “come down and have a go” on the track; and the purchase of a shipping container to provide secure storage and a makeshift ‘club area’ at the track site.
But “there’s no point having a club without a track,” Nathan said, and the majority of the funds will likely go towards finishing off the track surface.
“We probably need another 20 truckloads of track topping, and a little bit more manpower.
“We’ve got a local earthmover [Brenton Williams] helping out but I’d love to have more than one machine working at once,” he said.
Though winter weather has slowed things down on site, the wheels have well and truly been in motion behind the scenes, Nathan said, with the South Gippsland BMX Club recently registered with Consumer Affairs and currently going through the process to become affiliated with BMX Victoria.
Once affiliated, the club will be able to apply for grants from BMX Australia to run ‘come and try’ events at the track.
The first of these could happen as soon as November, Nathan said, if all goes according to plan.