Warburton mountain bikers remove in excess of 5-tonnes of rubbish from the bush

Warburton is poised to become home to one of Australia’s best mountain bike trail networks, depending on the outcome of an Environment Effects Statement. This process is well underway, with a decision projected mid-2022.

In the meantime, the local mountain bike community has banded together to clean up the forests around where the trails are planned, in what is slated to become an annual event to be dubbed ‘Clean up Warby Day.’

“This was largely a push that came from the local riding community, it wasn’t a push from Yarra Ranges Mountain Bikers. It was people in the community who wanted to clean up their home,” says Andrew Howieson, President of the Yarra Ranges Mountain Bike Club. 

Despite the magic of the forests around the Yarra Valley, they are not unique in that some folks see them as empty space, and an opportunity to avoid the tip fees when nobody is looking. 

“Something we have been up against is this misnomer that mountain bikers are anti-environment and that we want to conquer the environment for intrinsic selfish motivations, like getting a thrill out of riding down a hill fast, at the expense of the natural world,” says Howieson. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

A few businesses jumped on to provide support for the cleanup like True Value Hardware and local IGA


Mountain bikers, bushwalkers and caring locals come together

Wanting to play their part, the local riding community got together to clean up their hometown. A group of between 40 and 50 people, primarily mountain bikers, along with a handful of bushwalkers and folks from the non-riding community, split up into seven teams to collect as much rubbish as they could.

“We had kids as young as 10-years old; we had a bunch of teenagers, families and young people too. The average age would have been in their 20s, all from Warburton,” says Warby local Rob Eva.  

The teams were spread across six sites, including the Mount Donna Buang summit and access road, Old Warburton Road, Britannia Creek Road.

The clean up covered six zones around Warby.

“We had four-wheel drives, and trucks with tip trailers and winches pulling washing machines, TVs, tractor tyres, and building materials out of the bush, as well as general rubbish like bourbon cans, baby wipes and receipts — some had people’s names on them, which was quite funny,” Says Howieson. 

All up, this motley crew of mountain bikers pulled over 70 car tyres out of the bush and sent more than 10-trailer loads, each in excess of 500kg of rubbish. Howieson tells us the transfer station attendant wasn’t able to provide them with an exact figure but estimated they’d dropped off between five and six tonnes of rubbish. This figure does not include the rubbish picked up along the Riverside trail in town as part of this cleanup effort. 

Warby locals of all ages, including some from the non-riding community, joined the cleanup effort.

Actions speak louder than posts on social media

Regardless of the location, mountain bikers are often blamed for littering and generally being a detriment to the health of the forest. It doesn’t take a very deep dive on social media to see riders being accused of leaving beer cans, cigarette butts and dirty nappies in the bush.

The clean up sent more than 10 trailer loads like this one to the transfer station.
Quite a bit of the cleanup was scrambling up and down steep embankments trying to get on top of dumpsites like this one.

“While the opposition (to the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination) is out there complaining on Facebook that mountain bikers are going to fight and abuse people, pollute the bush and bring their barbeques to have a cook-up halfway down the trail and burn down the forest. We’re the ones that are out there cleaning up the bush and the mountains and putting the right foot forward,” Howieson says.

Many of the areas this clean up targeted are also spots where there will be trails nearby, and Eva pointed out that hopefully, more people out in the bush will discourage would-be dumpers. 

Eva and Howieson tell us this is only the first cleanup the local mountain bike community will be organising; it’s set to become an annual event. 

One stat that did come out from the clean up was over a metric tonne of tyres were removed from the bush.

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