Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Castlemaine Introduction Ride
This short tour around the outskirts of town packs some real surprises. It is a great way to see the sights of Castlemaine and get a feel for the area while having sections of good off-road mountain biking. It is not technically difficult and despite the numerous directions, navigation is quite easy. You will pass a couple of ride locations that invite you to return and explore.
After a little bit on the tar at the start, you climb to where you have views over Castlemaine that give a real perspective of the town. Then follows a looping ride in the bush and a downhill run before following further trails around the golf course.
Another very short section on sealed road takes you to more very enjoyable track that climbs before dropping down to the Botanical Gardens. Cycling is permitted here but please go slowly. The tracks through the gardens are quite wide and you have good vision ahead. This is a very pleasant flat place to ride and adds a nice contrast to the little bush tracks you have just traversed.
Near the end of this ride you pass by Apple Annie’s bakery café that is worthy of a visit. Their cakes and pastries are sensational and the croissants were voted the best in the country by a prominent food critic. (It’s so special that Jacqui asked me not to include it lest it fall victim to its own popularity!)
By car: Castlemaine is an easy one and a half hours or 120 kilometres northwest of Melbourne via the Calder Freeway. (Melway X909 D6.) Take the Castlemaine turn off and when you reach town go to the car park in Forest Street, at the rear of the information centre. This is the start for most of our rides in Castlemaine. Set your bike computer to zero at the edge of the car park, near the footpath.
Parking here is limited, however, there is plenty of free parking nearby, beside the tennis courts in Wheeler Street (turn right at the closest roundabout).
By train: A fast and comfortable train service from Melbourne takes around an hour and a half from Southern Cross Station. Bikes can be taken on the train but if travelling in a group you will need to confirm space is available by ringing V/Line on 136 196 or (03) 8608 5011.
Food and Drink
Plenty of options at the start. The car park services the local supermarket; green-grocer with deli-goods and fresh bread also near the info centre. A cycle-friendly café is the Theatre Royal, next door to the bike shop, in Hargraves Street just to the left of the roundabout. The Comma Hotel is known for good food and local bands.
Allow plenty of time to explore the historic town of Castlemaine. Pop into the information centre for a wealth of fascinating historical and tourist information, staffed by generous locals happy to share their knowledge. It has interesting displays and is well worth a visit.
11.084 km / 6.887 mi
190 m / 622 ft
365 m / 1,197 ft