Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike, Welsh Village
How much can you pack into a 23km trip? This ride has a terrific variety of tracks and the places you visit are intriguing. This terrific loop ride takes you through two amazing historical sites and a quaint township followed by a three kilometre singletrack that will have you grinning! If you want to concentrate on the historical sites you can avoid the technical singletrack by turning right at Chewton. Head back to Castlemaine on the bike path, just off the highway on the right.
Just after one kilometre from town and you are on a simple dirt trail which takes you to the well maintained tracks through the pine plantations. A few gentle climbs then a descent on narrow tracks get you to the Welsh Village historical site. This is an isolated spot so don’t expect hordes of tourists. Please treat this unique site with respect, explore on foot and avoid disturbing the ruins. The area was once a gold miners’ village with many Welsh families banding together. A school, church and slate homes surrounded the mineshafts visible today. A great deal of gold was extracted from the surrounding area. When you see the depth of hand dug mine shafts and the size of some rock slabs used for building, you get some idea of the human energy that once prevailed here.
At 10km the Garfield Water Wheel is an imposing reminder of the money and effort involved in the search for gold with the huge wheel powered quartz crushing batteries and other nearby reminders of the gold era. Disconnect your computer and explore. You pass by the historical town of Chewton which has a beautiful streetscape. You can get a coffee here also. There is a short bit of tar beside the highway before climbing up to an isolated bush track that gets you up to the Poverty Gully Water Race. This was built by hand in the gold era to move water many kilometres. It now provides a fabulous singletrack ride that requires some skill and concentration. Take care and give way to walkers if you happen to meet one.
After the water race we end with a nice downhill run to town and you will feel that you have covered more than 23km!
Don’t be put off by the technical rating of the ride if your main interest is seeing the historical sites. The technical sections are not long and can be easily walked and you can also miss the technical Water Race by using the road or bike path from Chewton.
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 info centre.
Pop into the information centre in Castlemaine. There you can pick up information about Welsh Village, Garfield Wheel and Chewton.
21.495 km / 13.357 mi
406 m / 1,333 ft
422 m / 1,384 ft