By Shelby Brooks
A PETITION to save Hell Track, the generational mountain bike track in Wonthaggi, has gained more than 300 signatures in less than 24 hours.
The community has jumped on board to oppose Parks Victoria’s position that the built jumps and paths on the Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve site are an “offence under the Crown Lands Reserves Act 1978”.
Last week, the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times spoke to local teenagers who spent much of COVID-19 lockdown expanding and rebuilding the dirt jumps on the site.
They were heartbroken to find a sign by Parks Victoria calling for “person/s undertaking these works… to cease activities immediately.”
The Change.org petition, Hells Track to be kept alive, was started by Eamonn Toomey and argues “If [Parks Victoria] want to demolish it, they need to provide an alternative for the youth as there is nothing to do outside anymore for the vast majority of kids.”
“Whether they give a budget or respect our wishes, the council need to do something about making official dirt jumps/pump pump that are more accessible than a skatepark for less skill inclined riders.
“This needs to change to improve the quality of life for kids and adults alike who want it to get out there and have fun.”
Bass Coast Shire has been contacted for comment.
Jamie Moresco was in support of the petition, calling the whole situation “hogs wash”.
“My mates and I back in the ‘80s built the first Hell Track and there have been many versions since,” he wrote in the comments of the petition.
“Leave the bloody kids and the big kids alone.
“They are exercising, having fun and I guarantee many parents will be glad their kids are out at a local track [rather] than riding up and down the streets of Wonthaggi.”
Jan Clark agreed, writing, “Let kids get dirty, jump, ride, team-work and have fun outside in the fresh air where kids have played and laughed for many years.”
“Young children and adults have found an activity that is productive and… inclusive for all age groups,” Linda Tack wrote.
“I have visited the area a number of times to watch my son ride there and every time I have attended, there are kids of all ages working together to create a common goal.
“This area is a must for Wonthaggi and Bass Coast Shire.”
Parks Victoria South Gippsland and Bass Coast chief ranger Gerard Delaney told the Sentinel-Times last week they had the responsibility, “for making decisions to protect and conserve the natural environment in parks across Victoria.”
“We are undertaking a program to shut down illegal bike tracks across the state including the illegal structures at Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve, which are an ongoing problem.
“Our aim is to rehabilitate the land, restoring the hard work by local environmental groups to protect the bushland reserve for the whole community to enjoy safely.”
To support the petition, head to change.org/p/local-government-hells-track-to-be-kept-alive.