The Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area proposal encourages responsible use of vehicles by family groups, rather than by high impact motor sports enthusiasts operating off road. Drivers and riders of a proportion of off road vehicles, particularly trail bikes, revel in the so-called ‘technical terrain’ with mud, sand, ‘roll overs’, steep slopes, loose rocks, stream crossings and rock bars. In the last decade, off-road activity has begun to cause environmental degradation over a growing area of the Gardens of Stone.
Those 4WD clubs and bike associations that promote responsible driving amongst their members – being the drivers of registered vehicles by licensed drivers on designated 4WD trails are welcome. Unlicensed trail bike riders that have no regard for the damage they cause or the fact that their off road activities are illegal should go elsewhere. Damage to the geodiversity of the Gardens of Stone is permanent; some flora may eventually recover, but not the non-living part of the ecosystem.
A much more precautionary approach is required for vehicle access regulation in the Gardens of Stone. To be sustainable, visitor use and enjoyment must be made compatible with the conservation objectives of the proposed conservation area. No motor vehicle should be allowed to go off road , in sensitive public lands like those on Newnes Plateau.
Appropriate signage should regulate vehicle use of retained management tracks, while all unwanted tracks should be closed, actively rehabilitated and management trails gated, particularly those regulated by the mining industry. The gated access on the Wolgan River link road is a step in the right direction. Vehicle access also should be restricted to isolated mountain peaks, small mesas and to the Wollemi Wilderness.