Set the wheels in motion and go the social distance

Narooma Mountain Bike Club is working through approval and funding processes for trails in state forests around Narooma.

The club applied for government funding for a feasibility study.

Club president Georgie Staley said a company which builds mountain bike trails would carry out the study.

"They will look at every aspect, whether the trails will work topographically and environmentally," Ms Staley said.

Ms Staley said the club was working to have trails authorised with Forestry NSW and to gain landholders' permissions.

"State forests have been extremely cooperative and excited to work with us to provide this for the town," she said. "We are going through the application process."

Ms Staley said mountain bike tourism was booming in Australia.

Chloe Mulder, Charms Baltis, Sara Sadler, Tash Dusehjko and Amity Kershaw enjoy an e-bike and yoga experience with Southbound Escapes. Image: Ben Marden.

Chloe Mulder, Charms Baltis, Sara Sadler, Tash Dusehjko and Amity Kershaw enjoy an e-bike and yoga experience with Southbound Escapes. Image: Ben Marden.

"It's such a huge tourism factor; the bonus about our area is that it's good climate-wise for riding."

Ms Stanley said the club was working with Eden, Tathra and Cooma clubs to create "a region of mountain biking".

"We have this amazing ability for youth to have an outlet - it's healthy and somewhere to exercise."

New quiet e-bikes meant mountain biking was "doable" for anyone. It is also a sport where social distancing is easy.

It's really important to exercise, especially in nature

Kristy McBain, Eden-Monaro MP

Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain recently met Ms Stanley and Narooma tourism operators to discuss the trails.

Ms McBain said exploring nature on a bike was great exercise and would package nicely with other South Coast trails.

"Narooma mountain bike trails is a fantastic project which adds nicely to the Tathra mountain bike track and hopefully Eden mountain bike track," Ms McBain said.

"Hopefully it's something we will be able to champion and get some funding for, because it is a double element - not only being there for our locals, but also an attraction for tourists once we're all able to socialise on a bigger scale and travel again."

As the pandemic hit after the bushfires, Ms McBain said people needed a healthy outlet.

"It has knocked a whole range of people for six; we need to take care of each other," she said.

"It's really important to exercise, especially in nature."

Tourism operator Sally Bouckley of Southbound Escapes said it was a difficult time for tourism.

With inter-state travel restricted, Narooma's tourism has relied on locals exploring their own backyard.

Ms Bouckley said a "staycation" could do wonders. She hoped to attract cyclists to adventure on the Narooma to Dalmeny Coastal Trail.

"Look at what we've got on the doorstep, there's plenty of things such as the coastal trail - where people can socially distance," she said.

"And there's so many other things to see and do around the trail."

The industry is still very nervous as there's no certainty of where we're going. We need to have a plan

Karen Dempster, South Coast Tourism Industry Association

Ms Boukley hoped to see funding help develop ecotourism, such as bike trails in Narooma.

"It will be a huge economic benefit to the town," she said.

Karen Dempster of the South Coast Tourism Industry Association said tourism was very fragile.

"It is very sensitive after all the stopping and starting," she said.

"The industry is still very nervous as there's no certainty of where we're going.

"We need to have a plan."

Ms Dempster said the association would lobby the government for funds. She said tourism marketing campaigns would "help people on the ground".

She said the association was developing a plan to help tourism operators and hospitality businesses work together.

"We will be putting together funding bids for two projects," she said.

Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain with Karen Dempster, Kathryn Ratcliffe, Georgie Staley and Sally Boukley.

Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain with Karen Dempster, Kathryn Ratcliffe, Georgie Staley and Sally Boukley.

Ms McBain said it was "incredibly hard" for tourism and hospitality businesses.

"What I have noticed is that businesses are adapting and there are COVID-safe plans, where people are checking in using QR codes, they are checking IDs and monitoring social distancing.

"If we all continued to take the best steps to keep everyone safe - then we will be okay. Nobody wants to see an outbreak of COVID-19 in the region, but we also want to make sure we're trying our best to keep things going as normal."

Ms McBain said locals were "hesitant" about people coming into town.

"It's very hard for everyone at the moment," she said.

"There are locals desperate for people to come into town, given what we have all been through over the past eight months.

"There's a fine balance, as long as we are adhering to the health advice.

"If we are all taking the precautions for the benefit of the community, I think we will all be okay."

Ms McBain said businesses were anxious about the future since the

"Tourism and hospitality businesses have been hit harder than most," she said.

"Bushfire-affected areas need extra assistance. It's not just a COVID shut down, it's a bushfire shutdown."

Ms McBain wants more help from the government in JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, industry packages and "economic stimulus from the bushfire funds so we can start to create projects we know will stimulate visitation, but also stimulate local businesses and jobs".

Anyone interested in joining the Narooma Mountain Bike Club, visit the Naroma Bikers Facebook group or register online.

This story Set the wheels in motion and go the social distance first appeared on Narooma News.

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