By Shelby Brooks
IN a bid to crack down on “illegal bike tracks” across the state, Parks Victoria has vowed to demolish the generational mountain bike trail, Hell Track, in Wonthaggi.
The piece of land, known as Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve, was flagged by Parks Victoria recently for the “unauthorised works” on Crown Land that kids had undertaken in rebuilding the tracks during COVID-19 lockdown.
A sign was spotted recently by the kids who use the tracks, stating: “Parks Victoria officers will be demolishing any built structures and rehabilitating the site.”
Laura, who did not want her last name published and who is the mother of one of the teenagers who rides at the space, is heartbroken for the young kids.
She said her 14-year-old son had found a nurturing community of like-minded active teens.
“Parks Victoria has an opportunity to reach out and engage with the kids and work together but instead place discreet signage and operate covertly so as not to let the community know.
[Hell Track] has been going on for generations so there is an obvious need for a mountain bike track in our community. It leaves the kids with nowhere else to ride locally.”
Parks Victoria South Gippsland and Bass Coast chief ranger Gerard Delaney said 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 hardwork by local environmental groups to protect the bushland reserve for the whole community to enjoy safely.”
But Laura refutes that, believing the area of land is unsuitable for any other purpose than a mountain bike track due to its location, the steepness of the site and the type of flora.
“It would just be a dumping ground for locals [if it wasn’t Hell Track],” she said.
“Parks Victoria never have established the land for community use, as such there was never established walking paths.”
But it’s not the first time Hell Track has been threatened.
Twenty-year-old Wonthaggi man Ryan, who did not want his last name published, has been riding at Hell Track since he was 12 and recently set up an Instagram page for the track, @hell-track.victoria.
His father also used the track growing up.
He said in the past, similar situations had occurred, so he was almost “expecting” it.
During COVID-19 lockdown, the group of teens including Ryan spent hours cleaning up rubbish and rebuilding tracks and jumps for their mountain bike riding.
“It was something we worked on for many hours with lots of hard work, it would definitely be an upset to see it flattened. But we can only obey the signs. And I know that many of the others and I had some great ideas we were looking forward to building and riding. It would have given some healthy and pure enjoyment for the locals and those who visit.”
A council spokesperson said the shire had not received any complaints from locals about bike riding activity at Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve.