Earlier this year, Wollongong City Council closed Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park following reports that fragments of asbestos had been found on the site’s tracks.
We are working to remediate the site, with the support of the NSW EPA. However, while we’re getting closer to be able to reopen, we’re not there yet.
As we work with the licensee, Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club (HORCC), on the next steps for the facility, we’re asking community members to stay safe and to not go inside the site fencing.
That’s because, while we’ve removed asbestos fragments from multiple locations across the site and regular air monitoring has been in place, people walking or riding on the site can change its risk profile.
The management of a contaminated site can be a complicated process and it’s important we get it right.
The steps we take now will determine how this area may be used in the future and the safe, long-term management of the land, which is an important space to many in the Helensburgh community.
Most recently we have:
- Continued to undertake independent expert weekly asbestos inspections of the site. Unfortunately, these inspections continue to find new asbestos fragments across the entire site.
- We have entered into a voluntary improvement program with the NSW EPA to remediate the site. As part of that agreement a consultant hygienist has undertaken a waste classification for the site to ensure we can safely dispose of the contaminated soil at a licenced waste facility.
- We are seeking quotations from qualified civil consultancies to remove the red/orange clay material to existing ground level as soon as possible. Following the removal of the clay material, we will be required to gain an asbestos clearance before re-opening the site to ensure the safety of the public.
- Continued to meet with representatives from the HORCC to keep them updated in the work Council has been undertaking as landowner.
You can read our past statements about Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park to learn more about what's happening at this location.
Our most recent statement, issued to media on 14 September 2023, read:
Earlier this year, we closed Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park following reports that fragments of asbestos had been found in clay material on the site’s tracks.
We’re working to remediate the site, in consultation with the NSW EPA and in collaboration with representatives from the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club as the licensee for the site.
It’s important we get this right because, while we’ve removed asbestos fragments from the clay material from multiple locations across the site, further fragments continue to be found. In addition to the asbestos, the site contains significant amounts of building waste (broken up tiles and bricks), and it’s possible there is more asbestos containing materials below the surface in the park’s dirt tracks and jumps.
Council shares the Club’s concerns about the origins of the material and the fact more fragments continue to be found. Whilst we are uncertain as to how the asbestos material found its way to the site, and there is a possibility it has been placed.
Our priority is community safety, and while we’re getting closer to being able to reopen, we’re not there yet. We are focussed on getting the park up and running as soon as possible and are working closely with the Club to do this in a safe way.
It’s important people stay off the site as walking or riding on it can change its risk profile and could, potentially, disturb yet-to-be-identified asbestos fragments.
We will continue to collaborate with the licensee on next steps for the facility.
Council continues to encourage community members to stay outside the site fencing, and should anyone have concerns about people entering the site they should contact HORCC or NSW Police.
- Working towards reopening Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park, July 2023
- Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park statement, May 2023.
Common questions about Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park
We temporarily closed the Park in May 2023 as a precautionary measure to allow investigations to be carried out into the make-up of the soil on the dirt tracks imported to the site by the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club.
As asbestos fragments had been found right across the site, the site has remained closed until remediation work can be completed.
No. There have been a significant number of fragments, and these have been found right across the site on both Council-owned land and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service land. An independent hygienist undertakes a weekly inspection of the site to remove and test suspected fragments and, unfortunately, new fragments continue to be found every week.
At this point in time, we have only found asbestos containing material in the form of fibro pieces on the surface of the ground.
However, we are concerned it is within other parts of the dirt tracks that contains fill material. The fill material consists of construction and demolition waste like brick, tile, and concrete. We believe the fibro fragments are very likely to be contained within this fill material.
While any identifiable asbestos fragments that have been found at the site have been removed, the site has remained closed until the necessary clearance certification is obtained.
The movement of bikes and riders across the dirt tracks can disturb the soil, and potentially uncover further materials that could contain asbestos.
Council installed the fencing for the safety of the community. While the site is fenced off, and the soil remains undisturbed, regular on-site air monitoring has come up clear. However, should anyone ride on the dirt, this puts them at risk of uncovering and disturbing new fragments.
While the safety fencing has been in place, it has been extensively damaged. It’s there to keep people out of the site for their own safety. In addition, tasking Council staff to repeatedly fix the fencing diverts ratepayer funding from other works.
Council has been working with the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club.
When dangerous materials, such as asbestos, are found at a site like this there are a number of steps that have to be undertaken. These include detailed reports and assessments of the site by independent experts, consultation with important stakeholders like the NSW EPA and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the development of a long-term site management plan.
Sourcing consultants to test and provide a clearance for the site, and suitably qualified contractors to remove the material and confirming their availability takes time.
We are conscious of the need to return the site to the public. However, public safety remains our highest priority. We are working towards a program to have the site reopened prior to Christmas.
We know this is area is a valued space and we are focussed on reopening the site to the community as soon as possible.
Yes. The sportsgrounds remain open and are not impacted by the closure of the neighbouring site.
We do not have a date at this time. However, we are focussed on reopening the site for the community as soon as possible.
Under the Voluntary Improvement Program with the NSW EPA, we are required to gain an asbestos clearance certification by an independent hygienist before we re-open the site to the public.
We have explored a partial re-opening of the site, but the ongoing presence of new asbestos fragments being found weekly across various parts of the site is preventing any possibility of a partial asbestos clearance certificate to re-open selected sections of the site.
Sport and Recreation
- UCI Bike City
- Skate Parks
- Outdoor Fitness
- Wollongong City Leisure Centres
- The Vale Golf Course
- Sports Grants
- Our Pools
- Dog Beaches and Parks
- Parks and Gardens
Art and Culture
- Wollongong Art Gallery
- Public Art
- Creative Wollongong Studios
- The Arts Precinct
- Creative Dialogues
- Recent Projects
- Opportunities for Artists and Performers
- Sister Cities
- History and Heritage
- Wollongong CBD
- Tourist Parks