Chewton Back Track

Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Chewton Back Track

This beautiful little ride is perfect if you are new to riding on bush tracks. If you like the idea of a short off-road adventure leading to exploration of a quaint little town with an intriguing streetscape, this is ideal. A couple of kilometres from town, you enter a rough bush track with just enough ruts, rocks and little climbs to give a real mountain bike experience; a downhill roll into Chewton, an unsealed path back to Castlemaine and lovely views to end.

As you start on the bush track you instantly feel transported into wilderness even though you are only three kilometres from Castlemaine. There are gullies, old gold workings, and great tranquility surrounds you where once there was feverish activity in the hunt for gold.

You will quickly learn the basic skills of mountain biking here even though the track is not highly technical. Practising gear selection, weight transfer and choosing a good line beside ruts, will give you a real sense of achievement. The short hills will give you a chance to put little gears to good use.

The track is smoother and quite flat as you ride beside the railway line and then duck left to Chewton. (When driving from Melbourne to Castlemaine, Chewton feels more like a suburb of the bigger town, a place with an inconvenient speed restriction, to be passed through rather than visited.)

There are small miners’ cottages and more substantial buildings including the post office and town hall along the main street. A small park nearby has a rather intimidating windowless lock up. You can get a good coffee and food before heading back. The return trip is an added bonus. Track is smooth and flat as it skirts Forest Creek and the views are very pleasing indeed.

Access

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 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.

Side Trip

Pick up a pamphlet of Exploring Chewton at the information centre. This handy guide gives you plenty of ideas for familiarising yourself with the town.

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Leave the car park and turn left
  • onto Forest Rd, then turn right at the roundabout.
  • 0.3 Turn left onto Greenhill Ave.
  • 0.6 Keep left on Greenhill Place then veer right uphill on the narrow path.
  • 0.9 Continue uphill on Vincent St.
  • 1.3 Turn right onto Ross Dr, cross the rail bridge then turn left on Matheson Rd.
  • 2.1 Turn right onto Gallway St and hit the dirt! Keep going to the end of the street.
  • 2.9 The track becomes a little overgrown and more rugged just after passing the last property in the street (Number 42). Keep going straight ahead.
  • 3.4 Veer left at the track junction. Small climbs, descents ruts and rocks continue.
  • 4.7 At the bottom of the hill turn right, then keep following as the track veers left uphill. (Don’t turn left at the bottom of the hill or you will go to gaol – literally, as Loddon Prison boundary fence is to the left).
  • 5.1 Keep left.
  • 5.3 Turn left onto the dirt road, Eureka St – Dingo Park
  • Rd. Keep to the left as you go downhill as traffic is possible.
  • 6.5 Cross the rail bridge and immediately turn right onto the track beside the railway line. After a short distance the track veers a little to the left as it follows the rail line.
  • 7.4 Slow down as you come to a steep descent to Adelaide St. Turn left for a short roll into Chewton.
  • 7.7 At the end of Adelaide St cross the road and turn right onto the roadside bike lane.
  • 8.0 Stop and have a wander. To start your return trip, make sure computer is connected then head back along the road the way you came for a short distance; turn right on North St just before the park, then just before the bridge turn left and follow the Goldfields Track sign.
  • 9.1 The track continues to your right.
  • 9.3 At the directional sign, keep left towards Castlemaine. The sign gives you a good idea about the extent of the Goldfield Track network. A short distance ahead to your right there is a community art installation.
  • 10.4 Turn right onto the gravel road.
  • 10.6 Continue along the track on the right just after Colles Rd.
  • 12.1 At the end of the bike path turn left onto Happy Valley Rd.
  • 12.4 At the end of the road turn right onto the shared use path then cross the road a little further on just before the large goldfields touring routes sign. Continue straight ahead on the track then pass the tennis courts.
  • 13.1 Turn right onto the street at the end of the track, then left at the roundabout.
  • 13.3 Finish at the information centre car park.
  • Trail map

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    Back

    13.138 km / 8.164 mi

    Total Distance

    178 m / 583 ft

    Total Ascent

    380 m / 1,246 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance (Kms): 13.2
    Elevation Gain (metres): 183
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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