Riding dirt bikes in state forests and water catchment areas
State Forest Western Australia
Riding dirt bikes on public land
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 (legal 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 boot.

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.
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