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Listen to the Voice of Real Australia podcast: Dungog turns the wheel of fortune with mountain biking revolution | Dungog Chronicle

Listen to the Voice of Real Australia podcast: Dungog turns the wheel of fortune with mountain biking revolution | Dungog Chronicle 2020-10-01Leave a comment

electrical bike Take heed to the Voice of Actual Australia podcast: Dungog turns the wheel of fortune with mountain biking revolution | Dungog Chronicle

THE hand-painted signal beside the mountain bike monitor signifies this part is called “Essential Evil”, however being out right here driving on Dungog Frequent is sheer pleasure for Chloe Chick.

“I am not an knowledgeable mountain biker by any means, however I definitely benefit from the feeling of freedom,” Ms Chick says.

“For me, it is turn out to be a really meditative observe to focus on being current, being exterior and being free.”

The 22 kilometres of mountain bike trails threading the 263-hectare reserve on the perimeter of city imply greater than freedom on two wheels to Ms Chick.

Additionally they symbolize a stack of laborious work by a group that has helped create a cycle-led resurgence for Dungog.

Ms Chick and her fellow members of a volunteer group referred to as Experience Dungog, together with the frequent’s managers, organized for the development of two mountain biking circulate tracks. Within the course of, they’ve created a phenomenon.

Riders are coming from far and huge. By receiving a burst of adrenaline on the tracks, the mountain bikers are, in flip, injecting a complete lot of cash and optimism into the city at a time when each are sorely wanted.

As native bistro proprietor Craig Stephenson says, Dungog is experiencing a “mountain biking revolution”.

Views around Dungog Common. Picture: Marina Neil

Views round Dungog Frequent. Image: Marina Neil

The revolution started in essentially the most bucolic of settings.

The group reserve is studded with bushland and gives lovely views of the encompassing countryside, all the way in which to the distant Barrington Tops. For a few years, individuals have ventured to the frequent to loosen up and train.

Experience Dungog and the frequent’s managers determined to create a brand new attraction, commissioning a Hunter agency, Eastcoast Mountain Trails, to design and assemble the 2 circulate tracks. In addition to driving the cross-country tracks, mountain bikers may now problem themselves on these shorter trails.

On the floor, the timing couldn’t have been worse. The paths got here into being as COVID-19 restrictions took maintain.

But, because it turned out, the timing couldn’t have been higher. Because the world was shutting down and journey was curtailed, Dungog provided accessible journey and escape.

TOAST TO TRACK: Stella Bistro owners Craig Stephenson and Stephanie "Stevie" Parker in their Dowling Street business. Picture: Marina Neil

TOAST TO TRACK: Stella Bistro house owners Craig Stephenson and Stephanie “Stevie” Parker of their Dowling Road enterprise. Image: Marina Neil

Craig Stephenson, himself a mountain bike rider, says the frequent has been all of a sudden populated with bikes, particularly on weekends.

“It will get very busy,” he explains.

“You could possibly be on the market with a whole lot of different individuals. However there is a real sense of group and a way of well-being. And from the earliest of novices, little children on their little BMX bikes, to outdated fellas and mums and e-bikes, you identify it.”

Alongside Dowling Road, the primary thoroughfare within the coronary heart of Dungog, enterprise house owners have observed the brand new arrivals.

“Each second automobile has an adjunct of mountain bikes on the again of it,” says David “Jimmy” Cox, the co-owner of the Tinshed Brewery. “It is simply superb.”

Sydneysiders Mal and Sonja Whitaker at Dungog Common. Picture: Scott Bevan

Sydneysiders Mal and Sonja Whitaker at Dungog Frequent. Image: Scott Bevan

Even through the week, the frequent attracts guests. On a Friday afternoon, Mal and Sonja Whitaker flip up from the Sutherland Shire, in Sydney’s south, to trip the tracks for the primary time.

“We’re eager mountain bikers in and across the Royal Nationwide Park, which is simply south of Sydney, so we thought we would come and test it out,” says Sonja Whitaker.

“I feel regional areas have lots to supply our metropolis individuals, when it comes to farm holidaying in numerous methods,” provides her husband.

Chloe Chick, who moved together with her household to Dungog from Singapore after a few years dwelling abroad, believes the frequent has provided an antidote to these feeling confined by COVID.

“I feel what we have skilled through the COVID-19 lockdown is that yearning for connection, and for group,” she says.

Chloe Chick riding the trails at Dungog Common. Picture: Marina Neil

Chloe Chick driving the paths at Dungog Frequent. Image: Marina Neil

“And mountain biking, you possibly can social distance, you could be exterior, however you can too work together and see one another and really feel such as you’re a part of one thing greater than your self.”

In Dungog, mountain biking is changing into one thing greater than a sport on the sting of city. The group says the advantages are flowing into the business centre.

Stella Bistro’s Craig Stephenson and spouse Stephanie “Stevie” Parker say previously six months, their enterprise has been buying and selling “properly past something we may have imagined”, and so they estimate as much as 65 per cent of their buyer numbers are from the mountain biking group.

“We have in all probability seen extra of the mountain bikers this time round opening up from COVID than our regular bike, as in motor bikes or highway biking; it has been a really particular change,” says Ms Parker.

Up the highway on the Tinshed Brewery, Jimmy and Haley Cox can barely sustain with demand. The earlier week, they bought practically 1000 litres of beer in simply 4 days. So the Coxes are doubling the vats for fermenting beer on website to carry 6000 litres.

Haley and David "Jimmy" Cox, owners of the Tinshed Brewery. Picture: Marina Neil

Haley and David “Jimmy” Cox, house owners of the Tinshed Brewery. Image: Marina Neil

“I am fully stunned,” says Jimmy Cox. “At the beginning of the 12 months, we thought we have been shut, after which to go from that to busier than we have ever been, we’re astounded by it.”

His spouse says the increase has been good for not simply the coffers however the temper of the city.

“It is like we have lastly caught a break, after a drought and bushfires,” Haley Cox says.

For years, Dungog has been making an attempt to bolster its future as a vacationer vacation spot. A part of the city’s attraction for guests is its previous.

The principle road is sort of a time tunnel, its historic buildings transporting guests again to when this was a wealthy agricultural hub, with thriving industries comparable to dairy farming.

Dungog Shire Mayor Cr John Connors in Dowling Street. Picture: Marina Neil

Dungog Shire Mayor Cr John Connors in Dowling Road. Image: Marina Neil

But as these industries shrank, so did native enterprise prospects. “For Lease” indicators have been positioned within the home windows of among the historic buildings.

However these empty retailers are being occupied as soon as extra. In keeping with Councillor John Connors, the Mayor of Dungog Shire, new companies have arrived, and with them have come extra jobs.

“I feel the mountain bike driving has caused an air of confidence in the neighborhood,” Cr Connors says.

Whereas there have been three or 4 vacant retailers in the primary a part of city a few 12 months in the past, the Mayor says, as of mid-September there was just one premises for lease.

“I feel one may say that is in all probability instantly attributable to the arrival of the mountain bike driving,” he says.

Certainly, a type of new companies is a motorbike store. On the primary day of spring, Rob Benson opened Tempest Bicycles in a former {hardware} store in Dowling Road.

NEW BUSINESS: Rob Benson, owner of Tempest Bicycles in the main street.

NEW BUSINESS: Rob Benson, proprietor of Tempest Bicycles in the primary road.

A passionate collector of bicycles – he has 132 bikes – Mr Benson was so impressed by the Dungog Frequent tracks that he determined to open his enterprise, which is believed to be the primary bike store within the city’s historical past. However he has little doubt that mountain bikes will likely be a part of the long run, each his and Dungog’s.

“The tracks up there, they are surely one thing else, they’re world class,” Mr Benson says.

“The fellows put numerous work into them. They’re at all times there sustaining and grooming them. They’re implausible. I do not assume there’s actually something regionally simply fairly prefer it.”

Experience Dungog president Chloe Chick is thrilled to see a motorbike store within the city’s principal road.

“It is not a lot the biking or the mountain bike tracks, it is what it represents,” she mentioned.

Chloe Chick, from Ride Dungog, beside one of the flow trails. Picture: Marina Neil

Chloe Chick, from Experience Dungog, beside one of many circulate trails. Image: Marina Neil

“And for our youth, it represents employment, engagement, outside exercise, psychological well being, properly being. And to have that represented in a business sense, when it comes to a enterprise on our principal road, it represents lots. It actually clearly brings our imaginative and prescient to life.”

Simply because the bike trails are contributing to the companies and group lifetime of Dungog, the locals are giving again to the tracks.

Experience Dungog just lately arrange an enchantment for $65,000 to assist fund the design and building of two extra tracks, as a part of its push to make the city a world-class mountain biking vacation spot. Inside per week, $70,000 had been raised, with native companies donating about $50,000.

To do their bit, Haley and Jimmy Cox on the Tinshed Brewery are placing their cash the place drinkers’ mouths are.

The brewers donate 50 cents from every glass of their XTRA Path Ale bought to assist pay for the frequent’s upkeep. Jimmy Cox says greater than $2000 has been raised.

The drinks list at Tinshed Brewery, with the mountain bike-themed beer. Picture: Marina Neil

The drinks listing at Tinshed Brewery, with the mountain bike-themed beer. Image: Marina Neil

“A whole lot of native individuals have been utilizing their very own gas and their very own mowers to take care of the tracks, earlier than the growth, so hopefully that can now chip a little bit of gas into their tanks as properly,” he explains.

As regional communities round Australia seek for their very own path forward, Chloe Chick hopes Dungog’s mountain biking revolution might maintain some clues on the way to trip the peaks and valleys in the direction of revitalisation.

“It is going to be essential for Dungog to turn out to be the pilot mannequin, to do issues correctly, to have the assist of state and federal governments, and different stakeholders,” she says, “in order that we are able to create the blueprint that may be shared, not simply in Australia however globally for the way in which ahead in a sustainable, tourism-generated future.”

Chloe Chick mountain bike riding on Dungog Common. Picture: Scott Bevan

Chloe Chick mountain bike driving on Dungog Frequent. Image: Scott Bevan

You possibly can hear the audio model of Scott Bevan’s Dungog story on the Voice of Actual Australia podcast.

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