Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Water Channel To Bendigo

A traffic free non-technical track beside Coliban water channel to the outskirts of Bendigo. There is something for everyone in this one way ride. A few short hills and gullies with rougher sections of track followed by fast, smooth sections of dirt and a bit of narrow track. Ridden fast, the gentle bends give a nice flowing feel to the ride that has a real sense of journey.

You can experience this ride a number of ways if you think out and back is too big a day. Consider organising a car lift from Bendigo back to the start or catching the train to Castlemaine then a car lift back to where you started.

Usually, rides beside water channels are flat affairs with just a gentle gradient to help the water to its destination. For much of the journey this ride is just like that but there are also some quite steep climbs and descents not long after the start. The water channel forms part of the Goldfields Track between Castlemaine and Bendigo. At the time of writing, a mountain bike setion from Castlemaine to the water channel is being planned. The existing walking track goes over Mount Alexander and is not rideable due to the steep and rocky terrain.

The early part of the ride has beautiful long distance views over the surrounding farm country. This area is quite open so there is not much shade; further along on the flatter sections there is some tree cover. There are also a few minor dirt roads to cross, then the track gets nice and narrow as you reach Sandhurst Reservoir.

As you approach Bendigo, you can choose to keep following the Goldfields Track signs or make your own way into town.

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.)

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.

Start point for this ride is where the Coliban water channel meets Sutton Grange Road, ~13 kilometres northeast of Castlemaine, past Barkers Creek and Harcourt. Take the Midland or Calder Freeway to Harcourt, then head east along Market Street, take Reservoir Road then Coopers Road till it intersects Sutton Grange Road. Continue a short distance to where the Coliban water channel meets Sutton Grange Road, near a stand pipe just after Joseph Young Drive. (Melway Ref X 609 E5) or 59 05 on the Hayman’s Daylesford – Castlemaine – Ballarat forest activities map.

Food and Drink

Best to load up in Castlemaine or Harcourt. Harcourt is famous for its apples and you can get these and other very good quality local fruit from a couple of roadside shops soon after Castlemaine. Plenty of good options in Bendigo when you arrive.

Side Trip

Both Bendigo and Castlemaine are very popular tourist destinations with many interesting attractions. After this ride you may want to do a leisurely bike tour of Bendigo or return to spend more time exploring.

Ride Log

Few directions are required until you approach Bendigo, simply follow the channel. As you reach the outskirts of Bendigo just continue to follow the Goldfields Track signs.

  • 0.0 Set your bike computer to zero at the start point for this ride, on the north side of Sutton Grange Road where it meets the Coliban water channel, just after the turn off to Mount Alexander, (Joseph Young Drive). Take care approaching the start as it is not far from the crest of a steep hill. There are just two spots where there can be confusion.
  • 9.5 Turn right onto the road then 100m later turn left onto the channel track.
  • 21.0 At Sandhurst Reservoir follow the signed singletrack, then Goldfields Trail signs along fire tracks to the outskirts of Bendigo.
  • 33.0 End of ride.
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    80.579 km / 50.069 mi

    Total Distance

    1,288 m / 4,225 ft

    Total Ascent

    1,473 m / 4,833 ft

    Total Descent

    456 m / 1,496 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    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: 32.3
    Elevation Gain: 434
    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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