Imagine what it would be like to kick back in Belair National Park, with a nice pump track for the kids, a skills park, some nice flowing trails, and a local bike shop to grab a coffee after or during your ride! Well, it’s a little step closer now, at least!
Many of you may have heard about proposals for the old golf course at Belair National Park, and I know we’ve mentioned it to a few people, and occasionally things popped up in the paper, but until now it’s not really been appropriate for us to say anything, however…..
Today we finally hope to get the keys to our new shop “The Goat Shed”, and are excited to announce the details!
So, for the last few years we’ve been looking for a location to open a bike hub, offering bikes to hire, snacks and coffees, and to run our skills training and tours from. For us it made sense to do this down in the Southern Adelaide Hills around Blackwood, as that’s got the best density of trails, and it’s our backyard!
We first looked at the idea with the Department of Environment and Water (DEW) of putting a container cafe on Craigburn Farm back in 2017, but that got too tricky with the location. Then in early 2018 DEW asked for formal proposals for a Bike Hub on their parks, so we put a proposal in, highlighting we were interested in doing this in Belair National Park if a suitable building was available, then subsequently it was announced that the Former Belair Country Club had gone bust, and the whole golf course area was to be taken back over by DEW to manage. We immediately contacted DEW and put our hands up to be involved.
The formal process started in October 2018, with Expressions of Interest requested by DEW for business ideas to operate on the land and in the buildings. We put ours in, proposing a bike hub/shop and MTB skills area and training park to be created, along with some new trails on the golf course, which would work alongside other businesses, to create a vibrant outdoor activities hub in this beautiful corner of the park.
Fast forward to May 2019, and they’d narrowed it down to 4 proposals including ours, from the initial 22 that came in from the EOI process, as noted on the DEW website here:- www.environment.sa.gov.au/news-hub/news. The idea was these options could work along side each other. At the time however were told not to make it public. We met with DEW, and then the waiting started!
Now, we still don’t really know what happened from then, but after another 12 months it became clear the whole process had ground to a halt. So, now where do things stand? Well, finally in August 2020 (21 months after the EOI process closed!) DEW announced the EOI process was concluded with no solid outcome, and that they were then going to start a new Master Plan process, with community consultation.
Throughout this time DEW were supportive of our vision and plan for the space but weren’t able to proceed. But our “goat like” determination meant that we have kept pursuing this plan for a vibrant space for all to use.
So, in the short-term after a lot of negotiation, we have been given a temporary licence to operate from the Pro-shop building at the golf course to offer bike hire, minor retail, tours, coffee and snacks, whilst the master-plan process continues. We have been lucky to get a small business COVID-19 grant from the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia and Salesforce to help set things up, which will help a lot, however we can’t do anything to build trails at this time. It’s certainly not ideal, as our real vision was to get some trails on the land prior to opening to be able to get people really re-activating the area. However, we have decided we feel it’s more important to get in there, get a presence, and start to at least re-activate the area a bit. Baby steps I guess! (Or riding with training wheels!)
Our full vision still lives on, and the trail development we proposed (to take over only a small part of the entire grounds) included:-
- A purpose-built skills area, to include a pump track, progressive drops and rolling obstacles, rocks and other challenges. This would be Adelaide’s first dedicated MTB skills area; open to all, and utilised as Escapegoat Adventure’s skills training course.
- A re-route of the final section of the Adventure loop trail, to direct riders down through the golf course, to finish in the golf course precinct. Preferably a downhill flow trail to excite local riders which doubles as an area to coach and conduct skills sessions.
- Modification of the existing trails on the golf course to include some beginner-friendly trails and cyclocross suitable trails that link with shared-use trails within the National Park itself
We also proposed formalising an “Urban Epic” MTB trail. This mapped and signposted route would take riders from Belair NP, via the Adventure Loop towards Sturt Gorge RP and finish at the Marion train station or back to BNP. This 30km+ trail would incorporate and link many of the great DEW trails already established in the area. While some level of Government funding may be required to complete this project, we believe the unique nature of this single-track trail including its length and proximity to a major city centre would attract cycle tourists from far and wide.
- Bike hire including:
- Kids MTB’s & Hardtail MTB’s
- Dual Suspension bike for experienced riders
- Trailers, baby seats and family bikes
- Basic maintenance supplies, parts and services.
- New and second-hand MTB sales, and demo bikes.
- Bike wash and stand for DIY maintenance.
- MTB information, maps and ride suggestions.
- Coffee, teas, soft drinks, cake and snacks for sale.
- Skills training.
- Guiding, social rides, Nature Therapy programs and general MTB community hub.
You can download and read our proposal here!
So, we hope to have our little bike hub “The Goat Shed” open in the former Pro-shop by 1 October 2020 (2 years after the EOI process commenced!), just in time for school holidays! We will be offering bike hire (inc some kids bikes, ebikes, trailers etc), coffee, cakes, other stuff, and a friendly smile! There should be some beginner family trails open on the former golf course land too, and obviously you can ride the other trails in Belair including the Adventure loop, and also head off to Lynton/Mitcham or Sturt Gorge, Craigburn Farm, and beyond. We won’t have all the trails and facilities we want, but will continue to push for these, and work out ways to fund them as required with DEW.
We’d really love community support, and will keep updates coming on our facebook page, so make sure you follow us there! We will also let you know what you can do to help, which may include providing support to the community consultation for the master plan, and other things, like telling our pollies and council what you want! And obviously we’d really really love people to pop in, grab a coffee, and say hi! We really do want to create a vibrant MTB hub in the centre of the Southern Parks, but we can’t do it alone!
Thanks to all who have helped along the way!
Ian and Deborah