Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 November 2017) . . Page.. 4938 ..
and forests, and strategic land-use planning, are all working collaboratively to strengthen the range of cycling opportunities.
The strategy will look to outline practical options for building Canberra’s reputation as Australia’s cycling destination of choice, attractive to domestic and international visitors alike with flow-on economic benefits for the community and businesses of the ACT and region. I expect the strategy would be launched in the first half of 2018.
In closing, we are, indeed, fortunate to have easy access to so much recreational opportunity in the ACT, and this government’s commitment is to work closely with the community to ensure a balance in the management of open space and forest areas to cater for a wide range of recreational enjoyment whilst ensuring natural and cultural values are best protected.
The value of Kowen Forest as a cycling destination can continue to co-exist within a program of commercial sustainable harvesting. In the short term I have requested the forest manager work with the recreational groups to determine how mountain bike trail builders can be assisted to establish new trail alignments through appropriate areas in Kowen and other pine forests. The development of a cycle tourism strategy expected in 2018 will provide the policy platform and outlying practical initiatives to truly make Canberra both the bush capital and the cycling capital of Australia.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (3.52): I thank Mr Rattenbury for moving this motion. We will not be opposing this motion as it speaks to a matter about which I have previously written to the Minister for Sport and Recreation. This matter was raised with me back in June this year. I contacted the minister in early July and again at the beginning of October in the hope of some intervention if not some answers. But, like the minister’s response, which we are still waiting on, this motion comes too late.
The final bell has tolled for the Kowalski brothers’ trails on Sparrow Hill and at Kowen Forest; 15 October was the last opportunity for rides at the Kowen Forest, the home to mountain biking since the Canberra bushfires of 2003 that demolished the original tracks on the slopes of Mount Stromlo. The area has been home to the race known as the BentSpoke Kowalski Classic, which celebrates the achievements of local trail builders Paul Cole, Alan Anderson and the Kowalski brothers. Together, these men hand built over 120 kilometres of cycling trails in east Kowen and across Sparrow Hill. But they are no more. The photos on Facebook show the empty space where once there were trees.
The areas of Sparrow Hill and east Kowen have been home to some of the finest mountain biking in Australia. Sparrow Hill was home to four well-maintained well-signposted loops ranging from five to 50 kilometres and engaging a full-time caretaker. What has been particularly galling and disappointing is that these tracks, which they built themselves, were destroyed by ongoing harvesting of the timbers in the pine forest. They called on the government to intervene on their behalf, not thinking that a few million dollars to be made from harvesting was anywhere near the value of health and economic benefits to be gained from retaining mountain biking trails in their current format at Sparrow Hill.