When Kelly McGarry learnt to do tricks on his BMX he had to make his own jumps in the trees behind the Wakefield Domain.
Now a bunch of Wakefield men are making sure the next generation inspired by his deeds will have an easier run.
Kelly grew up in Wakefield and later attended Waimea College before going on to make a name for himself on the free-riding scene, famously back flipping over the Grand Canyon in the United States during a Red Bull Rampage competition.
His life was tragically cut short in early 2016 when he suffered a cardiac arrest while riding in Queenstown, aged just 33.
Despite his world-wide fame, Kelly often made his way back to Nelson to volunteer at various events and it was during one of his trips home that a group of guys in his home town asked him if he’d be keen to help redesign a small pump track for bikers in Wakefield.
He agreed just months before he passed.
The group – including some of Kelly’s oldest friends – decided to expand their vision for the dirt track, build a second track out of asphalt and a skate park all-in-one complex.
A naming competition was put to the students of Wakefield School, where the name McGazzaland was picked, after his nickname in the riding scene, McGazza.
So far $13,000 has been pledged to the project, $10,000 from the Kelly McGarry Foundation and $3100 from the Nelson Bikefest event that was wound up earlier this year.
Matt Goodall, a close friend of Kelly, says McGazzaland isn’t a memorial to Kelly but a tribute to him.
“We want families to be able to come down here and enjoy it and have fun. And if they are inspired to take it further, then great.”
He says the Tasman District Council is “very supportive” of the project but no council funding or consent has been granted yet. He says the entire project would cost somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000, with most of that for the asphalt track.
Another group member, Dan Shallcrass, says there is enough in the kitty to complete the dirt pump track, something they are hoping to start in October.
“We think the dirt track will take a month or so to complete, then we will use that to promote the project to do the asphalt track.”
Matt says Kelly would have loved the concept. “He’d be all over it. He’d be saying ‘where was this 20 years ago?’ Kelly was just like you and me, he didn’t come from wealthy parents or anything special. He just wanted something and went and took it.”
The group say, once finished, McGazzaland will be a community space and will include picnic tables and drinking fountains.
“We visualize it being a place where a family could come down, have their fish and chips, while the kids hack around on the track. We want it to be a community hub. We want people to say ‘I’ll meet you at McGazzaland’.”
To keep up with the group’s latest progress, or to get involved, check out their Facebook or Instagram accounts by searching “McGazzaland”.