Bring back our bridle trails!

The Eurobodalla’s historic bridle paths linking the shire with Cooma, the Southern Tablelands and the Shoalhaven should be restored, according to Moruya’s Brian Clarke.The chairman of lobby group Access for All will travel to Cobargo on Saturday to rally support for a draft strategy seeking to expand horse riding in national parks and wilderness areas (see story page two).Mr Clarke, 70, said he grew up riding historic trails in and around Bendethera, in the Deua National Park, but “wilderness declarations” blocked a network of pack trails that once traversed the mountains, linking the coast to the Monaro and the tablelands.“It’s our heritage,” he said.Mr Clarke said wilderness assessments had not considered the historic value of convict-built pack tracks such as the Shoebridge, built to carry produce between the coast and Araluen.“They said there was nothing in there,” he said.“It was there for them to see. Shoebridge had the store in Lower Araluen and, when they couldn’t get supplies up the river here because of flood, he paid to have a pack track from the coast built. It is still there now. We can ride on most of it but, on the back end of it, they put wilderness on it which means we can’t go all the way through.“These tracks are there, they were on maps. I think it should be protected. It is not there for anyone to abuse or make money out of, but it was part of our heritage and we think it should be preserved. There is some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia in our backyard.”Mr Clarke said his group had “a wonderful relationship with national parks” in the shire and helped maintain the Corn Trail which runs through the Monga National Park from the foot of Clyde Mountain to its peak.“We supply horses to pack saws and equipment in for the national parks,” he said.“That is a prime example of what can be achieved. We look after the area, we don’t want to destroy it. We are conservationists like everyone else.”Mr Clarke said horses were no more likely to carry weed and exotic seeds in their hooves than native or feral animals, “or a pair of Blundstones with big woolly socks”.He said riders were unlikely to veer off the beaten path.“They won’t get off these tracks. Some are very remote, very dense bush and very steep terrain and there is no way in the world you would get off the track, otherwise you are going straight down over the side,” he said.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.