Off-farm income has long been recognised as desirable in an industry which is governed by so many factors over which the producer has little or no control.
The fluctuating dollar, the weather and market forces all work against producers as often as they work with them. In this series, the Advocate will look at a number of businesses around the area that are doing things a little differently in striving to develop on-farm supplementary income.
Scott and Regina Michell of Castletop at Rocky Creek, set out to “drought proof” their income using the existing infrastructure on their cattle and sheep property.
After investigating a number of ideas, they decided to establish an off-road bike riders’ venue. This was seen as the easiest business to implement, with the least establishment cost and minimal inputs. In March 2008 the couple brought “Bike Territory” into being.
Using existing farm tracks, which had been put in to control weeds and to facilitate mustering, Scott created the initial course. Since then he has added fire trails to the network and built new tracks through the property. Scott told the Bingara Advocate that the riders help him by keeping the fire trails open.
The infrastructure has been developed and now offers both junior and senior motorcross tracks, an enduro track with man made objects including a see-saw, drawbridge, vehicles and tractor tyres and logs to negotiate.
Recently, the neighbouring property, Amberley owned by Mrs Pat Hlad, has been added to the track network, again using the fire trails on that roperty.This has greatly expanded the area available to riders.
Scott said that the riders, who come from all over NSW, really enjoy the variability of the terrain and the scenery “Bike Territory” offers. Also, a lot of locals just come for the day, particularly from Moree and Narrabri and often serve as guides for visiting riders when Scott is unavailable.
There are easy tracks for beginners and rocky challenges for the experts. There is even a children’s track for peewees which is close to the accommodation, so parents can keep an eye on them.
According to Scott, a large number of the bike riders who come to the property are farmers themselves who are coming from the flat country to enjoy some of the hilly terrain the property offers.
There is an added benefit here for Scott because “it gives us a lot of eyes around the property. If there’s a problem with a cow calving or a sheep that’s down or if there’s car tracks where they shouldn’t be, someone will see it and let us know. It amazes us how many people who come off the land look for hilly terrain and enjoy looking around other properties!” Scott said.
“Bike Territory” is now very much a business in its own right. From what started as a hobby for Scott, a large and successful business has been created.
Regina is kept busy with bookings and enquiries and Scott’s farm employee helps out with the bikes as well. There is accommodation for 25 in the shearers’ quarters and another 10 in a farm cottage. A new camping area has recently been developed. Scott does limit the number of riders at any one time on the property so that it is never crowded.
Due to the popularity of “Bike Territory”, Scott and Regina have suspended all advertising for the moment. “We knew there was a market out there,” Scott commented “but it went from a little sideline to a successful business quite quickly.”
Visit Bike Territory at: www.biketerritory.com.au
Other articles in the series: