February 23, 2020 09:10:36
A regional Queensland town will become one of three motorcycle-friendly locations in Queensland, if a proposal before the local council succeeds.
A Sunshine Coast resident hopes a hinterland town will attain council approval to get a ‘motorcycle friendly’ statusThe man who initiated the idea of motorcycle-friendly towns 15 years ago says it was a novel idea at the timeA NSW council that has been welcoming motorcyclists since 2013 says it is a boost to the region’s economy
About a dozen such towns — with a council-approved, motorcycle-friendly tick of approval — are located in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and include such features as designated motorbike parking bays and specialised motorbike services.
The man behind the Queensland proposal, John Laarkamp, has outlined to the Noosa Shire Council the benefits and reasons why the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Pomona should be next on the list.
In his submission to the council, Mr Laarkamp said motorcyclists could bring more money to a town than RV campers because of purchases including fuel, auto products, supermarket produce and accommodation.
The motorcycling enthusiast from the nearby suburb of Noosaville said Pomona was well-suited for motorbike riders.
“The special thing that it has … is the showground, so we can hold events there as well,” Mr Laarkamp said.
Unique idea back in the day
The idea for motorcycle-friendly councils began in 2005 at the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council on Tasmania’s east coast when newly-elected councillor Bertrand Cadart moved a motion to create the concept.
“It was in my head [I thought] ‘What can I do to help this region to improve the flow of visitors?” Mr Cadart said.
“At the time Glamorgan Spring Bay and Tasmania in general, the east coast in particular, was pretty sleepy.”
The 71-year-old, who now resides at Mapleton in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, said community support was vital for the idea to succeed.
“Not only the retailers, not only the petrol station, but the people themselves [were in support],” Mr Cadart said.
“If a motorcyclist would arrive in the township of Bicheno and park his bike there, the villagers, instead of hiding their children under the skirt of their mother, they would come to the motorcyclists and talk to them and say, ‘Gee nice bike!’.
“The local pub had a menu where all the dishes were named after a motorcycle.”
Mr Cadart, who went on to be elected as mayor of Glamorgan Spring Bay in 2007, said while the benefits were evident in hindsight, it was a novel idea at the time.
“We were in complete uncharted territory, this had never been done before,” he said.
Council targets new wave of tourism
In New South Wales, the Blue Mountains town of Lithgow has been motorcycle-friendly since January 2013.
Andrew Powrie, the Lithgow City Council’s group manager of economic tourism events, said welcoming motorcyclists had numerous benefits for the region.
“A lot of these motorcyclists are quite often executives, professionals — cash rich … they’re actually looking for an experience,” he said.
“They’ve got discretionary income and they just want to be welcomed.
“We were looking at trying to engage a target audience outside of the usual visiting friends and relatives, daytrippers and overnighters from Western Sydney and Sydney basin.
“So what we did is we created a motorcycling guide and engaged with some of the key publications and got them out for a familiarisation tour so we could show them our restaurants, our cafes … and accommodation property.”
Mr Powrie said some accommodation providers even offered bike racks inside rooms as well as hoses and cleaning equipment for cyclists.