Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Muckleford
Many people have asked for rides like this one and they are difficult to find. If your idea of mountain bike heaven is a long, flat, non-technical ride through the bush, you will love this! Muckleford forest is a tranquil place dominated by low gums and meandering tracks. There is a sense of history along the way at the Red White and Blue mine and Gowar school ruins. This ride doubles as pleasant touring or a hard and fast workout.
After a short spin out of town you then ride beside the steam train rail line featured in Ride 16. You can also catch the steam train from Castlemaine to Muckleford station and continue the ride from there.
Navigation is uncomplicated as most of the trail network is well signed once you leave the rail line. The hills are more like bumps rather than climbs and tracks are generally firm. As you approach the Red White and Blue mine site there are quite a number of mullock heaps scattered amongst the gums. The mine site picnic area is an ideal spot to refuel before heading back.
We pick up the track beside the steam train line again after leaving Muckleford. This is great fun if you happen to meet the train along the way as you are very close as it steams and rattles past. Passengers wave, the whistle blows and if you wish you can even have a race.
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 info centre. A cycle-friendly café is the Theatre Royal, next door to bike shop, in Hargraves Street just to the left of the roundabout.
Pop into the information centre for a wealth of fascinating historical and tourist information, staffed by generous locals happy to share their knowledge.
0.0 Leave the information centre car park, turn right onto Forest St, then cross the intersection.
0.7 Turn left at Bowden St.
1.1 Turn right at Farnsworth St, veer left onto Brown St, and continue to the end.
2.5 At the end of Brown St, cross Nolan St, then turn right and follow the dirt track beside the rail line.
3.1 Turn left and go under the bridge. There are now three tracks you can ride on. The track on the right hand side of the rail line is a bit rougher and slightly more technical. The track on the left hand side is smoother and the service track on the far left is easier still.
5.2 Cross the rail tracks and keep going straight ahead.
5.4 Turn left opposite the train sign then go under the bridge and continue.
5.9 Veer right and follow the track beside the rail line.
6.5 Keep going ahead and ignore side tracks.
9.5 Cross the road, Muckleford station ahead.
9.7 Muckleford station.
10.1 Cross the rail track and continue on the right hand side. Use the track closest to the rail line.
11.8 At the intersection cross the rail line and take the first track on your right.
13.4 Veer left at the Pipeline Track sign then 60m later turn left onto James Track.
14.5 Turn left at Tatt Town Track.
15.2 Keep going straight ahead.
15.7 Turn right at Smiths Reef Track.
16.8 At Maldon Rd, turn left then immediately right onto Nevills Track.
17.1 Keep going straight ahead on Nevills Track.
18.6 At Pullans Track, cross the intersection then immediately turn right onto Tunnel Track.
18.9 Keep going straight ahead (Break Track).
20.8 Keep going on Tunnel Track.
21.1 Continue on Tunnel Track at the Break Track intersection.
22.0 Turn left at Telecom Track.
22.4 Turn left at Bells Lane Track.
24.2 Red White and Blue mine site. To start your return trip keep the mine to your right then veer left as you pass a dam, go through the picnic area then go past a second dam on your right.
24.7 After passing the second dam turn right onto the dirt road. This is Red White and Blue Track (unsigned).
26.1 Turn right at Water Reservoir Track, ignore the side tracks.
27.6 At the end of Water Reservoir Track, turn right on Pullans Rd.
28.0 Turn right onto the sealed road.
28.4 Turn left at Gowar Track. The old school ruins are on your right.
29.0 Turn right at Donkey Farm Track and enjoy a gentle downhill.
31.0 At the intersection turn left passing the Maldon Historical Reserve sign.
32.6 At the end of Donkey Farm Track, turn right and continue downhill. Spur Track is to your left.
34.3 At the Railway Track junction veer right and continue on Donkey Farm Track.
34.6 Cross the rail line, turn right and continue the way you came.
36.5 Just before Muckleford station, cross the line and turn left.
40.6 Veer right, go under the rail bridge, then turn right onto the gravel road, continuing the way you came.
41.3 Cross the rail line and continue, ignore the track on your left.
42.0 Turn left and continue.
43.6 Cross the rail line and turn right past the houses.
44.0 Turn left at Brown St and continue to the end.
45.3 Turn left at Bowden St.
46.0 Turn left at Forest St.