Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Little Gem Cycle Trail
A short ride from town on a crushed stone bike path gets you warmed up. Even better, this part is really beautiful riding with very attractive views along the creek valley as you approach Chewton. A brief section of dirt road provides you with altitude for a sensational singletrack experience along the narrow Poverty Gully Water Race Track. Finish this little gem of a ride with a gentle downhill roll back to town.
This trip is short in length yet big on quality. Some technical skill is required however this is the sort of ride where we would encourage you to have a go even if you feel it may be too technical. When ridden with confidence the water race section is exhilarating. Remember to treat it with respect and give way to walkers.
The water race is a relic of the gold rush. Miners dug many kilometres of channels through the rock to move water to help their quest for gold. As they dug, the dirt was piled on either side, and this formed what we now ride upon. In places the riding surface is only a little wider than your handlebars and there is a disconcerting drop to either side. With a little practice, this riding is thrilling. Look well ahead down the track, ride with confidence, relax, and enjoy the experience. Just after the 9km mark, the track gets quite rocky as you descend. If this is too technical for you, use the adjacent road for a short distance then rejoin the water race.
The short, on-road downhill roll is an ideal way to finish, arriving near the coffee shops.
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.
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 information centre. A cycle-friendly café is the Theatre Royal, next door to bike shop, in Hargraves Street just to the left of the roundabout.
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. It has interesting displays and is well worth a visit. You may like to check out Chewton along the way.
13.051 km / 8.109 mi
239 m / 783 ft
410 m / 1,344 ft