Plan for huge bike trail linking Kyogle, Woodenbong, Bonalbo

KYOGLE could soon be the next hot destination for mountain bikers.

Plans are afoot to transform the council area's stunning landscape into an adventure-haven for mountain bikers, linking the villages of Bonalbo and Woodenbong to Kyogle via the Richmond Range.

Kyogle Council already has four "shovel-ready" trails and has grander plans to create a series of inter-connecting paths linking the west of the council area to the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail via Kyogle.

We're a year-round venue - the Atherton Tableland is too hot in summer and Tasmania is too cold in winter. And our location close to Brisbane and the Gold Coast and international airports lends itself perfectly

- Kyogle Council tourism development officer Malcolm Wallis

The council's tourism economic development officer Malcolm Wallis said mountain biking was a "booming industry" and that Kyogle had exceptional natural assets perfect for the sport.

"It's growing all the time, one of the fastest expanding sports in the world," he said.

Kyogle is bounded on three sides by ranges: the Richmond Range to the west, the Mackellar Range, and the World Heritage-listed Border Ranges.

While all these state forests and national parks are a bugbear for the cash-strapped council because they don't pay rates, the flip side is they offer huge tourism potential.

"We're pretty much a complete package for all levels of mountain bikers, from your novice green up to your black diamond, more extreme mountain biker," Mr Wallis said.

"We're a year-round venue - the Atherton Tableland is too hot in summer and Tasmania is too cold in winter. And our location close to Brisbane and the Gold Coast and international airports lends itself perfectly."

Southern Cross University environmental science student and keen mountain biker Blair Cochran is doing what he dubs a "dream internship", helping design the network of trails.

Having already been to Tasmania for the Island State's phenomenal bike trails as well as ridden some of the world's most famous trails in the United States, Mr Cochran is well qualified to comment on Kyogle's potential.

"It's definitely on par with any of those. The natural beauty is amazing, the terrain possibilities are great, and for environmentally-friendly trails as well," he said.

Mr Wallis pointed out that the Byron Shire Council recently opened a mountain bike park, and proposals for parks in Lismore and Ballina were also under way.

There were plenty of keen local mountain bikers but the potential for Kyogle was beyond just a mountain bike park.

"For the villages of Bonalbo and Woodenbong it will be a significant increase to their visitation and income," he said.

Funding for the project could be partially funded via State Forests and Kyogle Council, but would also need some government funding and plenty of volunteer labour.

There's also talk of lobbying the XPT service to alter its time-tables, making it easier for tourists to catch the train down from Brisbane.

Topics:  cycling kyogle council mountain biking tourism

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