McAdam Park (Barrabool) Will Have It’s Gates Shut For the Final Time In December 2015

Author: Aaryn Minerds


The Sporting Motor Cycle Club (SMCC) recently issued a press release regarding the impending closure of the McAdam Park Motorcycling facility, commonly known as Barrabool will cease operation by December 2015.

Upon this news we contacted Motorcycling Australia (MA) the current owners of the land that McAdam Park is situated on, who have confirmed that operations will conclude in 2015.

The battle to save Barrabool has been going on for many years, when I joined the forum back around 2007, the saving Barrabool campaign was always a hot topic and I like many people from the forum, the SMCC and other moto riders from around the country tried playing our part by purchasing one of the Save Barrabool Bricks back in the day.

While things initially looked good with the land secured back in 2009, the hype around a mulit use motorcycling complex that could host major Australian and International events never came to fruition,

The sad news that the property will no longer hold motorcycling events was handed down on the 25th of February 2014.

Read below a press release issued by the Sport Motor Cycle Club (SMCC) regarding the loss of the land, and futher below, some back ground information regarding the closure along with Motorcycling Australia's (MA) response to the venues closure sent to this afternoon.


Tuesday, the 25th February 2014 will be remembered as a dark day in the history of off road motorcycling.

After 4 years of conflict with neighbours, Motorcycling Australia (MA), the owner of the iconic McAdam Park motorcycling facility, has conceded defeat in its battle to turn the venue into a high level, multi user motorcycling facility. McAdam Park will close its gates for the final time at the end of 2015.

At a VCAT directions hearing held this week, MA entered a binding settlement agreement with a local land holders group whereby MA will sacrifice the existing usage rights for motorcycling which are attached to the land, and ultimately sell McAdam Park.

Though the Sporting Motor Cycle Club (SMCC) were a joint party to several VCAT proceedings spanning nearly 4 years, MA chose not to allow the club to have a say in these most recent negotiations over McAdam Park‰Ûªs future. It was largely from the efforts of SMCC members that via a lengthy VCAT proceeding in 2011, existing usage rights were won and motorcycle riding formalised as a lawful activity on the land.

The SMCC, who has been based at McAdam Park since 1962, will now face being left homeless, with no guarantees of an alternate replacement facility. Needless to say the club is astounded at this devastating course of action taken by MA; especially as alternative courses of action which possibly could have resolved issues with the local community, were never explored.

The SMCC believes the core reason for this outcome was MA‰Ûªs dogged unwillingness to negotiate toward a realistic and fair outcome. When MA acquired the property in 2009 and conflict arose, local residents voiced their objections saying they would only tolerate ongoing usage if it were based around historic club levels; MA‰Ûªs intentions were vastly different though and to the end maintained its insistence for McAdam Park to have high levels of activity and for it to be used by multiple user groups ‰ÛÒ that gulf was never breached. VCAT did not accept that MA‰Ûªs plans would be an appropriate outcome.

Under the settlement agreement, McAdam Park will operate until December 2015 on a more restricted basis. Details on clubs usage in 2014 are yet to be provided.

In closing - The SMCC would like to say we are sorry to all supporters, individuals, clubs and businesses who helped with the ‰Û÷Saving Barrabool‰Ûª campaign to get us across the line in 2009. The aim was simply for the SMCC to gain control of the land and also honour the legacy left by Clive McAdam and family who wanted the SMCC to continue so that we could then control our own destiny. All funding raised was handed to MA to assist with purchase of the land. What lay ahead no one could have expected.

The rest as they say, is history.

With regard to our future club operations, the SMCC is already in negotiation with our local and state government representatives.

Background Information Supplied by Motorcycling Australia

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal‰Ûªs decision in Wellington & Ors v Surf Coast SC (includes Summary) (Red Dot) [2011] VCAT 2317 (13 December 2011)(2011 Decision), confirmed that existing use rights for off road motorcycling events and activities apply to Lots 1 and 2 on PS 542499L, being part of the land described as 130 Haines Road and 470 Georges Road, Barrabool (McAdam Park).

The use of Lots 1 and 2 of McAdam Park for motorcycling events and activities is lawful. However, the 2011 Decision also relevantly provided at Order 2, that:

"‰Û_ (d) a planning permit was required at the time of construction for the buildings and works comprising the toilet block renovations, canteen, clubrooms and clubroom extensions, maintenance shed/pump house, scrutineers shed, buried shipping container, storage shed/container, land flyover bridge, starters box, bike wash down bays, all on Lot 1, and the bridge over the creek on Lot 2, being the items in paragraphs 7 (c),(d),(e),(h),(i),( j),(k),(l),(m),(o),(q) and (p) in the amended s 149B application. To the extent no permit has been sought or obtained for these buildings and works, the buildings and works are unlawful under the planning scheme then prevailing at the time of construction and/or under cl 63.05 of the Surf Coast Planning Scheme. ‰Û_

(h) a planning permit was required at the time of construction for the works to the main motocross track in 2003 and 2005 comprising the significant earthworks to widen and build up the height of the track, and the significant earthworks incorporating the development of major jumps and obstacles including ‰Û÷table tops‰Ûª, ‰Û÷ski jumps‰Ûª, ‰Û÷stair case jumps‰Ûª and the area known as the ‰Û÷whoops‰Ûª, being the items in paragraphs 8 (a) and (b) in the amended s 149B application carried out after 5 October 2000. To the extent no permit has been sought or obtained for these works, the works are unlawful under cl 63.05 of the Surf Coast Planning Scheme."

Following the 2011 Decision being handed down, MA applied for a retrospective planning permit for the following buildings and works:
‰Û¢ toilet block renovations;
‰Û¢ clubrooms and clubroom extension;
‰Û¢ maintenance shed/pumphouse;
‰Û¢ scrutineers' shed;
‰Û¢ buried shipping container;
‰Û¢ storage shed/cargo container
‰Û¢ starter's box;
‰Û¢ bike wash down bays; and
‰Û¢ the works identified as the western track extension.

On 23 August 2012, the Surf Coast Shire council issued a notice of decision to grant a permit for the buildings and track works sought, subject to certain restrictions. Most relevantly, council sought to restrict regional, state, national and international events to no more than 3 per year.

The council also proposed to restrict the number of club events to no more than 6 per annum and impose permanent noise monitoring at the site. Such restrictions were in MA's opinion in conflict with MA's obligations under its Funding Agreements with the State Government and the Surf Coast Shire which required it to provide a national and international motorcycle facility for the Geelong and Surf Coast Regions at McAdam Park.

The objectors appealed the decision to grant a permit, and MA cross appealed, challenging, amongst other things, the severity of some of the usage restrictions, and the appropriateness of the noise monitoring regime sought to be imposed.

On 14 August 2013, the VCAT delivered its judgement in respect of the appeals regarding MA's application for a permit for retrospective approval of buildings and works at McAdam Park and the construction of a new club house.

Although the Surf Coast Shire Council issued a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit in respect of all of the above buildings and works, that decision was set aside by the Tribunal on appeal in the matter of Motorcycling Australia Pty Ltd & ors v Surf Coast Shire Council [2013] VCAT 1382 (2013 Decision).

The VCAT determination ruled that McAdam Park was not an appropriate facility for motorcycle sport and that MA should consider other more appropriate locations for off-road motorcycle activities and events.

MA received further enforcement proceedings from the Council which required MA to demolish illegal buildings and works (as listed in above dot points) within a 3 month period. Instead, MA entered into a use agreement with the Residents which agreed that McAdam Park would cease activities by the end of 2015. In turn the Residents group would not pursue the nuisance proceedings nor continue with the impending VCAT enforcement orders.

Motorcycling Australia Statement To This Afternoon

"MA has worked through multiple options with local stakeholders and committed considerable time and resources to make McAdam Park a viable motorcycling venue for the community, and we are disappointed by the Tribunal‰Ûªs decision.

"The purchase, maintenance and legal fees spent on McAdam Park to date have been considerable. Committing further expenditure on new planning applications, knowing objections will be lodged, is simply not a feasible option. The only realistic alternative is to cease operations at McAdam Park as per the Tribunal‰Ûªs decision and source another site which will not attract objections.

We are currently working with the Surf Coast Shire Council and the City of Greater Geelong to discuss alternative venues for motorcycling in the Geelong region.

Top Image: The Iconic McAdam Motorcycling Venue will close its gates for the final time in December of 2015

Credit: Garry Morrow

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