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.
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.
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.
13.138 km / 8.164 mi
178 m / 583 ft
380 m / 1,246 ft