Not common knowlege

Allen Shrimpton beside one of the signs on Dungog Common. Sam New from Monkerai and Nikkie Brown from Wangat riding in the Common Mountain Bike Festival held last month.
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A little known area on the outskirts of Dungog is receiving rave reviews from visitors.

Back in 1838 the Dungog Common, a square mile area, was originally part of the town plan.

All landholders in Dungog were allowed to have two head of cattle grazing on the land.

While it is still used for cattle grazing purposes, there are also walkers, mountain bike enthusiasts, horse and motorcycle riders who are utilising the area.

Allen Shrimpton from the Dungog Commoners group said the land was leased to Kevin Bacon back in the 1970s but is currently used by Warren Richards for his cattle.

“The Dungog Commoners was formed in November 2010 and we applied to the lands department to use the Crown land for passive recreation,” Mr Shrimpton said.

“We met with council as well as interested parties who wanted to make use of the land. Council agreed to have a representative on the committee but didn’t want to take over.

“Hopefully within the next three to six months the land will be managed by a trust with funding available to do a plan of management.

“But in the meantime we are running events, building trails using the existing cow tracks and signposting the area and encouraging people to walk and ride.

“Under the Crown Land act the land can be used for passive recreation but motorbike events can get special permission to run as controlled event.”

Dungog PedalFest organisers have been using the area for 15 years but it now becoming popular with other organisations.

“The inaugural Dash ‘n’ Dawdle was held in August last year with 80 participants,” Mr Shrimpton said.

“The Hunter Motorbike Association ran a three-hour event in November and there were 80 young motorbike riders using the Common in early March for the Forest 300.

“And then a few weeks later the Common Mountain Bike Festival was held on April 14 and 15.

“There were 200 plus riders for the eight hour race and people came from all over the state as well as some from Victoria.

“The event went off without a hitch and we have been receiving some great feedback from attendees.

“The solo 24 hour world and national champion Jason English attended and won the solo elite male category finishing 13 laps, covering around 165 kilometres.

“I’ve chatted to lots of people and the overall feedback was amazing. Speaking with some of the local businesses they saw an increase in trade for the weekend which is great”.

In May the inaugural Rotary Dungog Challenge, 10-50-10 dirty duathlon will be held.

It will commence at Dungog Showground and consist of a 10 kilometre run out to the Common, 50 kilometre pushbike ride up Skimmings Gap Road and through Bandon Grove, then another 10 kilometre run.

“Teams are welcome to enter but there will also be a six kilometre walk for others who don’t want to do the whole event,” Mr Shrimpton said.

“If we could have an event like this every month or even every couple of months, it would be good for the town.

“There is a small town in Victoria called Forrest and they have turned themselves around since encouraging mountain bike riders to the area.

“If we can get 100 people here of a weekend it can only benefit the town . . . they use local businesses for a meal and a beer.

“The Common is a real asset for the town. We’ve lost the dam and this can help to bring prosperity back to the area.”

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