Beenleigh’s BMX culture under the spotlight in coffee table book
It’s a place where a community was built, skill was nurtured and those seeking a sense of belonging and a dash of adrenaline found their place.
Beenleigh’s BMX Park, founded by Doug Larsen in 1983, was ground zero for the best BMX riders in the 90s and noughties, and is seeing another resurgence as riders from around the country gather to show their skills on one of the first parks purpose-built for BMX riders.
The colourful history is captured in words and images in ’Transition: 40 years of Beenleigh BMX Park’, a coffee table book written by BMX rider turned historian Ross Lavender.
‘I’ve always had an interest in the history of freestyle, and of the park. I wanted to give credit to the people who made the park what it is today,’ he says of his inspiration to write the book.
‘There are so many riders and members of the community who are a part of the story of this place, and I wanted to capture that.’
The book spans the 1980s when the park opened, through the 1990s when it became a breeding ground for riders from across South East Queensland and the 2000s when riders from the park began to compete across the world.
Ross, who began going to the park in the late 1980s, says it heavily influenced his life and the lives of many others.
‘This park has impacted BMX freestyle to a point where freestyle in Australia would have been so different without it,’ he says.
Loss of funding in 2009 saw a drop-off in the bike culture, but it’s since seen a resurgence.
‘As well as new riders, riders from the past are coming back – riders in their 40s and 50s riding with the younger kids, passing on trick tips, and we haven’t seen that multigeneration before,’ Ross says.
He says the sense of community around the park was largely thanks to Doug Larsen.
‘This place is a story of how something came from nothing – it was swampland, it was an illegal dumping ground. When Doug started expanding, he introduced community volunteers, and started building a community hub here,’ he says.
‘Many of the guys came from hard backgrounds – and this was a place where they could be with their friends, develop BMX and life skills. Those skills stayed with them and helped them get on in life.
‘I think Doug really saw that with the riders.
‘This park is about more than sport; it is a community and cultural hub. It’s where people come together, engage, and build lifelong friendships. This is a second home to many.’
Ross spoke to around 80 contributors for the book – and he says the feedback has been positive.
‘Some of the old locals have said it captures the essence of the park as it really was and that’s the biggest compliment you could get,’ he says.
Ross used funding from the Regional Arts Development Fund to assist him in his research.
All artists in Logan can apply for RADF funding – applications are open now.
The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between Logan City Council and Arts Queensland, and administered by Council. Find out more here.
The book is available at: https://unscenehistory.com/store/p/transition-40-years-of-beenleigh-bmx-park-book