Riding trail bikes in State Forest and Water Catchment
areas in Western Australia is a tricky situation and can
result in helfty penalties if you get caught doing something
you're not supposed to.
In general, to ride any sort of dirt bike in these areas, it
must be registered and you must have a valid drivers
license for the vehicle you are operating. There are several
types of registration depending on the type of bike and it's
purpose, but an off-road registration is not acceptable. The
bike must also be roadworthy, with lights, indicators, etc,
so MX bikes and quads cannot be registered to be ridden
in these areas.
Where you can ride can also be a tricky thing to work out.
Any area that is signed as a prohibited area - like primary
water catchment runoff areas, dieback areas, etc - are
definitely off-limits, but many other areas of water
catchment and forest are legal (with registered bikes as
discussed above) as long as you stick to gazetted roads
marked on maps and named). However, the road has to be graded and maintained, which is a highly subjective
point - a ranger may consider a track to be unmaintained because a 2WD car can't traverse it, yet you think it's fine
because a 4WD can. The law-makers are attempting to stop people just carving new tracks through virgin
bushland wherever they want, which is fair enough, but really, if a track exists in some fashion at all then we should
be able to use it.
Kids can't ride anywhere in these areas and the Road Traffic Act makes no distinction between the freeway and
some little dirt track in the forest, so if they get caught they'll be looking at driving without a license charges.
Similarly, if you get caught on an unregistered bike, MX bike, quad or the like, you'll possibly face charges of
unregistered and unroadworthy vehicle, driving without a license (if you don't have a valid motorcycle license), a
parking fine (for the tow vehicle - they like that one) and if you're somewhere prohibited, a massive fine for that to
It can be very tempting to ride in these areas. They tend to be safer, less trafficked, more accessable and more fun
to ride in than any of the off road areas. In reality, if all riders behaved themselves like they know they should,
respected the environment and the other land users, I don't see why we couldn't be allowed to ride in some specific
areas of forest.
Bushwalkers, horse riders and mountain bikers all have dedicated areas for them to enjoy their activities, yet trail
riders and dirt bikers have virtually nothing at all. Considering the money we pump into the economy through fuel,
repairs, tyres, safety gear, maintenance, trailers, etc, I think it's grossly unfair that we are not catered for. At the last
estimate there were 60'000 dirt bikers in WA, and I suspect the number is higher than that. Raise the issue with
your local member of parliament and let's see if we can't get some things changed.
In the meantime - ride in state forests and water catchment areas illegally at your own risk, but if you do do it,
PLEASE be respectful of the environment and any other landusers you encounter in the wilds.