MARIA National Park is regionally significant for its biological content and wildlife corridor values. The fragile nature of the soils, the fire prone nature of the vegetation and its role as a corridor for plant and animal species limit the capability of the park for intensive visitor use.
I encounter unregistered trail bikes and vehicles, some with dogs, in the park, all of which are illegal activities in this particular park.
The Kundabung fire at the end of 2016 threatened properties bordering the National Park. Emergency services relied on the road network to gain access for back burning. The vehicle drivers mostly choose to go in after rain and their activities cause damage to the roads.
The roads are once again in a state that will mean a grader needs to be used (waste of parks/taxpayers money) to return them to a usable state.
Another fire now may not be able to be contained as effectively as the fire in 2016.
If only those ‘destroyers’ of the road had their livelihood and family threatened by fire they may understand the callousness of their actions.
One group I encountered had a child riding an unregistered trail bike and another child in the passenger’s seat of the following vehicle.
Implicit in this decision to ride/drive in the National Park is the suggestion to the youngsters that is okay to disregard/break the law. The taking of the dog as well only compounds this perception that disregarding the law is fine. Not a great start for their future ability to judge right or wrong as they become part of the community.
One member of another trail bike group I met, freely admitted that he understood there was no vehicle access and gave me a pretty typical direction of ‘where I could go’. His attitude was aggressive and non-caring.
If a fallen tree across the road is encountered they do not report it to the Parks service but instead drive around it destroying the roadside bush.
They destroy more bush in driving around locked NPWS gates.
They leave rubbish. Signs are vandalised.
There are State Forests not too far away that are havens for dirt bike riding. (A Kempsey off road circuit is on Gowings Hill Rd but I am unsure whether they support trail bikes/4WD). These people’s use of the National Park shows a laziness and a lack of understanding of the privilege of having an important habitat close at hand.
On this dirt bike forum http://www.dirtbikeworld.net/forum/showthread.php?t=89030 is the suggestion:
“There are heaps of National Parks around and apparently they are rarely patrolled if at all. I live along Crescent Head Rd and young blokes on CR 250s etc tear past all the time and go to Maria National Park.”
People walk/ride mountain bikes in the park for many reasons but one is to escape the trail bike noise from neighbour’s properties. To be confronted with the very thing one is trying to avoid is disappointing.
The nature of the trails mean riders travel quickly and are upon a walker/bicycle rider quickly. Some slow down, some don’t and spray dust/mud.
National Parks staff are unlikely to have the resources to manage this situation given the budget cuts they endure. Their priorities are likely to be directed to the other parks in the zone but that would need confirmation from them.