Goulburn ramps up efforts to attract motor sports

REV UP: Goulburn Mulwaree Council's economic development officer Debbi Rodden says the motor sport industry has enormous potential.
REV UP: Goulburn Mulwaree Council's economic development officer Debbi Rodden says the motor sport industry has enormous potential.

The council will turbo-charge efforts to expand and lure the motor sport industry to Goulburn over the coming year.

With housing pressures pushing facilities out of Sydney and Goulburn offering a competitive advantage, the strategy is a “no brainer,” says the council’s economic development officer, Debbi Rodden.

Her comments followed completion of a council commissioned study into the industry’s potential. The document, by Locale Consulting, found that Goulburn was in a unique position, offering a range of on and off-road facilities that were highly utilised here and from outside the area and which had significant economic spin-offs.

It recommends exploring opportunities for an off-road motor sports precinct, possibly around Mount Gray where the speedway is located and a motorcycle track is soon to be established. It also recommends expanding the variety of events in the council area.

The thrust zeroes in on just one aspect of the council’s broader Employment Lands Strategy completed last year. It found that the council could not only further develop motor sports but also natural resources, such as quarrying, mining and renewable energy, and transport and logistics, the latter of which staff acknowledged “had not met expectations to date.”

But Ms Rodden said it was simply not good enough to say that something was “a good idea.”

“It must be evidence based,” she said. 

“We need to ask ‘do we have an advantage and what is happening in the broader industry that might affect us.”

A steering committee, also comprising industry representatives, will also look at planning barriers and other issues that affect further development.

The investigations span several council departments.

Ms Rodden argued Goulburn had a head start on other areas.

“Most don’t have the diversity we have with established facilities,” she said.

‘We have an interesting collection of on and off-road facilities. The motorcycle track near the speedway has also been approved…We also have Wakefield Park which is keen to expand.”

Operators plan to lodge a development application with the council for $3.5 million in improvements, including track resurfacing, pit lane improvements and a corporate centre. An earlier study estimated Wakefield Park injected $15m annually into the Goulburn economy.

Ms Rodden said other centres, such as the Shoalhaven and outer Sydney were encountering environmental and other planning hurdles when it came to expansion or establishment of motor sports facilities. Other factors were also at play.

“The housing boom at Marys Mount is nothing compared to what’s going on in Sydney where old facilities are being squeezed out. Oran Park will be home to 21,000 people by 2030,” she said.

“We are placed well geographically to benefit from those pressures.”  

But she said local industry needed to collaborate and come back with a plan. A steering committee will meet early this year and decide priorities and an action plan.

Action at the Goulburn Speedway last October. A study recommends establishing a motor sports precinct near the speedway.

Action at the Goulburn Speedway last October. A study recommends establishing a motor sports precinct near the speedway.

Ms Rodden described the strategy as a “massive opportunity” in an environment in which government favourably considered funding applications that achieved strong economic outcomes and were collaborative.

Opportunities also existed for existing and new businesses. She said statistically Goulburn was already over represented in support industries such as smash repairers and spray painters but there could be opportunity for more. Likewise, the council would consider whether Marulan needed similar businesses given the Driver Training School’s proximity.

The strategy also highlights Legend Cars Australia in Goulburn and NSW Police Driver Training Centre, as well as events like the Hot Rod Shakedown, as organisations and events that could be leveraged by the City. 

“We are activating this across the organisation, from planning to economic development and marketing. This study is not going to sit on a shelf,” Ms Rodden said.

Goulburn Motorcycle Club president Richard Toparis applauded the effort, saying while Wakefield Park had its doubters many years ago, it was now proving an economic boon.

“The same principles, I’m sure, will apply to the motorcycle club. While some people see it as annoying bikes running around a track, it will be a good point of contact to also help people how to ride,” he said.

“Motor sports involves competitive people but it’s also there for beginners, so it caters for a wide spectrum. Between Wakefield Park, the speedway and the motorbike track, I think we’re well catered for in Goulburn.”

But he believed the investigations could identify other possibilities that nobody had thought about. 

The Motorcycle Club has spoken to the Goulburn Cycle Club and the local mountain biking organisation about also utilising Mount Gray.

Mayor Bob Kirk said he strongly wholeheartedly backed the broader investigations into the industry.

“One of the findings of this report suggests we minimise barriers to motor sport industry operation and expansion, and I am strongly in favour of this,” he said.

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