“TRC recently journeyed to the Northern Territory to assess proposed MTB and walking trail alignments and feasibilities in the stunning Nitmiluk NP and Katherine Gorge.

It was an interesting assignment for specialist consultant, Chris Ord, who was lucky enough to hop a chopper ride into one of the trail head locations.

“Part of the brief was to assess a walking trail alignment that would link the bottom of Katherine Gorge to a lookout high above, via a ledge escarpment. The quickest way to get there in the early morning (to beat the heat of 38 degrees!) was by helicoptering up the gorge, dropping me off at the bottom and picking me up again at the lookout site about 1km away up the cliffside.”

The helicopter also proved useful in viewing the landscape from above in order to be able to ‘pick the correct line’ and identify any problem zones before the on ground survey, says Chris.

Chris was also required to ground truth the proposed technical specifications and alignments of potential new shared use trails along with identifying alternative alignments.

“As a shared use trail we needed establish what is the best balance between risk management and keeping any environmental impact – visual and otherwise – to a minimum, while also considering build budgets and best suitability for intended user profiles.

“The unique and stunning environment of the Nitmiluk NP requires that the user experience is in keeping with the ‘journey through nature’ focus,” says Chris. “It’s not about creating ‘sportified’, high intensity mountain biking trails – far from it – rather it’s about creating a trail experience that remains immersive in nature and focused on the cycling and walking behaviours of specific users such as Grey Nomad, family, international and backpacker visitors, most of whom engage fairly sedately in terms of their riding activity.”