Parklands appreciate the many responses to our recent community survey on plans for the McFarlanes Hill trail network.
The plans have progressed between consultants with expertise in trail building, in environmental restoration and in cultural heritage management, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Wodonga Council, to the point where agreement has been reached on the extent of trails permitted, the restoration required and how this may be achieved.
The key elements of the plans for the McFarlanes Hill trail network were outlined in our recent community survey, which was promoted on our website and via social media. 105 responses were received from the community, resulting in clear feedback on proposals, community safety concerns and ideas for additional improvements to the amenity of the facilities for all users.
The survey report is available below.
Overall, respondents approved proposals to create three, one way loop trails for mountain biking, and designate the ‘Granite’ trail as a walking only trail.
Changes to fencing and pedestrian access proposed to improve safety also met with approval, with vehicle parking and safe travel to and from the park evident issues of concern.
Strong feedback was expressed about the safety of proposed shared use trails, seen as dangerous for both walkers and bike riders. A number of alternatives were suggested and plans have been modified in response. Single tracks will now be either walkers only or mountain bike (MTB) only, with the wider fire trails as shared trails with ‘keep left’ signage.
Many respondents expressed enthusiasm for upgrading visitor facilities and expanding the trails, both to meet local needs and to capitalize on potential for regional tourism. While emphasis was placed on the mountain bike trails, the importance of making the park an ‘outdoor recreation hub’, attractive and available to other users was also highlighted.
Suggestions for upgrading facilities included picnic tables at the top of Coyles Road, a public toilet, a BBQ facility, more children’s facilities on the MTB Pump track along with a picnic table and benches, and car parking.
With environmental restoration of this prime bush park a high priority for the landholders and the wider community, 9km of existing trails will be closed and the bush restored. While not a popular proposal with survey respondents, people acknowledged the need and included suggestions for environmental improvements.
Within the coming months, Parklands intends to:
- Realign the boundary fence on Felltimber Creek Road and replace the barbed wire with wildlife friendly fence materials.
- Print and install signs on the black sign posts recently positioned along the Granite Walking Trail and various fire trails. City of Wodonga have kindly provided these posts to help improve wayfinding and consistency across the West Wodonga regional park network. Signs will include “walkers only” for the Granite Walking Trail and “shared trail” for the fire trails.
- Submit a planning permit for the proposed mountain bike trail realignments that have been provided for community input. Work on these trail realignments cannot commence until this statutory process has been finalised. Feedback from this survey makes it clear that “MTB only” and one way signs will be needed for these proposed mountain bike trails for community safety reasons. It is planned to purchase Native Vegetation Offsets for this trail realignment work.
- Install nestboxes along key wildlife corridors in Swainsona and McFarlanes Regional Parks. These have recently been fabricated by Thurgoona Mens Shed.
- Host a Friends of Felltimber Creek gathering in February 2022 for those who have expressed interest in getting involved. At this gathering, the community can make plans for actions to implement, such as actioning recommendations from this community survey or removing redundant fences and barbed wire from all but strategic grazing paddock fences.