MOUNTAIN bike enthusiasts warn the closure of trails in the Glenrock State Conservation Area could damage the Hunter’s reputation as a tourist destination for cyclists.
The Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that works by NSW National Parks and Wildlife to rehabilitate part of the conservation area had destroyed popular trails that had survived decades.
The Herald has been told that more works have been done since Monday, rendering even less of the longstanding network accessible to walkers and cyclists.
Mark Jessup has been traversing the tracks for more than five years, travelling up from his home in south Melbourne about four times a year.
His wife has relatives living in the region but rather than taking a quick and convenient flight the couple drive the 1000-kilometre trip north.
‘‘If we’re coming up I’ll stick the bike on the back of the car so I can enjoy the trails,’’ Mr Jessup said.
‘‘It’s a beautiful area and when you ride the southern trails you get some of the most amazing views of the lagoon and the sea.
‘‘It’s hard to find spots like that in Australia.’’
The National Parks and Wildlife Service said each trail in Glenrock was assessed individually for sustainability and condition before the decision to close them was made.
But Mr Jessup believes the new restrictions could hit the Hunter in the hip-pocket.
Members of his Melbourne cycling club had also become regular visitors to Glenrock – on Mr Jessup’s recommendation – but may now reconsider their trips.
‘‘A few people from my local club have been there after I told them about it and have always come back and said it was fantastic.
‘‘I won’t be telling them the same thing any more,’’ he said.
Tourism Hunter chairman Will Creedon said he believed authorities would have considered the impact the trail closures at Glenrock would have on tourism but he would ensure plans were in place to preserve the outdoor visitor dollar that Glenrock attracts for the Hunter economy.