Castlemaine To Daylesford

Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Castlemaine To Daylesford

This is an epic ride, a journey through history, an adventure, always a good challenge and a lot of fun. The riding is a fantastic mix of experiences – with great slabs of singletrack, short climbs and descents, rocky sections, narrow passages, as you traverse historic ruins and native bush. This is not an easy jaunt in a park; it requires fitness, some technical skills and good preparation.

Soon after the start you ride along the top of old water race walls, sometimes only slightly wider than your tyres. With confidence and a little speed this section is great fun. A short fire trail section then leads you to a fast flowing ride to Spring Gully with its amazing ruins from the gold era. Throughout much of the ride you will see remains of old diggings, and plenty of mine shaft ruins.

Further into the ride there are short climbs and descents, rocky sections and narrow passages between trees. There is a short diversion around Vaughan Springs due to flood damage and some fragile areas off limits to bikes.

Closer to Daylesford the views open up as you emerge from the forest and Mount Franklin is quite a sight. There is a faster fire track run before you drop down to Hepburn Spa for some mineral water prior to the final uphill to Daylesford.

This has traditionally been a walking track and established by the local community. Please stop/give way if you meet a walker, have a chat and share the experience. The ride passes through some significant historical ruins that need to be treated with care.

You will need to prepare well for this journey. Start early and allow plenty of time as even without stopping to explore, you will need between 4 - 5 hours, or even longer as trail conditions vary. You must be self sufficient with food and water. Make sure you have a good range of basic bike tools and know how to use them. A chain breaker is especially important in case you experience derailleur damage.

Mobile phone cover is limited and the likelihood of meeting someone on the isolated parts of the trail is unlikely. Having ridden this ten times, I have never met anyone along the way until reaching Hepburn Spa.

There are a couple of ways to plan this trip. Ride to Daylesford and stay overnight then do the ride back to Castlemaine the next day. You can organise a car lift back, or ride the 37km to Castlemaine on the road. If you want the big challenge you can always do the return trip on the same day on the Goldfields Track. I have done this once and it is a big day!

Access

By carCastlemaine 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 and finish. 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. The Comma Hotel is known for good food and local bands. Free mineral water at Vaughan Springs and Hepburn Spa along the way. You need to be self-reliant in between.

Side Trip

Explore Vaughan Springs, Hepburn Spa or numerous historical sites from the gold era along the ride. Allow plenty of time to explore the historic towns of Castlemaine and Daylesford. Drop into the information centre for a wealth of fascinating historical and tourist information, staffed by generous locals happy to share their knowledge. It has interesting displays and is well worth a visit.

Ride Log

The start of this ride is at the edge of the car park in Forest Street, at the rear of the information centre. Set your bike computer to zero at the edge of the car park, near the footpath.

  • 0.0 Leave the car park, turn left onto Forest St then right at the roundabout and continue to the end of Hargraves St.
  • 1.4 Leave the road and follow the directional sign then turn left. Signs are being upgraded, and the Great Dividing Trail is now known as the Goldfields Track. The next 5km is quite technical as you follow the old water race. After a couple of kilometres there is a steep rocky section; you can use the adjacent road then rejoin the water race.
  • 6.4 Cross the road and follow the sign.
  • 7.5 Turn right onto Jacobs Track.
  • 7.8 Turn left at the trail sign and enjoy a fast section.
  • 9.0 Turn left again.
  • 9.7 Turn left into Spring Gully Mines at the Goldfields Track sign, head downhill, cross the creek bed then uphill and through a gate then just keep following the signs. There are more ruins ahead.
  • 10.8 Cross the stile and keep going and turn left at the next sign.
  • 12.3 Veer left downhill.
  • 12.7 Keep right.
  • 13.0 Cross the bridge and continue a short distance uphill.
  • 13.2 Turn right onto the gravel road then follow the sign downhill.
  • 13.8 Turn right and follow the roadside singletrack.
  • 14.4 Turn right at the trail sign.
  • 14.7 Cross the creek and keep going.
  • 14.9 Cross over the road and continue straight ahead.
  • 15.2 Turn left at the trail sign.
  • 16.0 Keep left then right again at the next.
  • 16.6 Turn right then shortly after, turn right onto Vaughan Rd.
  • 18.4 Vaughan Springs is downhill to your left. Disconnect your computer if you want to explore or top up with water, otherwise keep going downhill for 300 metres then turn left over a very narrow bridge and head uphill. This is a short diversion for cyclists around some fragile areas.
  • 19.7 As the road turns right, veer left and continue on Porcupine Ridge.
  • 20.9 Turn left at Gurr Track.
  • 21.6 Turn right to resume the Goldfields Track.
  • 22.8 Turn left.
  • 23.1 Turn left onto the singletrack then veer right onto more singletrack at Tubal Cain Mine.
  • 23.9 Cross Helge Ttrack and keep going.
  • 26.0 Cross the gully.
  • 26.2 Veer left at the track intersection.
  • 26.6 Cross Wewak Track and keep going.
  • 26.8 Veer left then 200 metres later veer right.
  • 28.0 Cross Brown Gully then turn right. The trail is a little indistinct. Continue through the grassy area then cross the next two gullies.
  • 29.0 Veer right, there are ruins on your left.
  • 29.5 Veer right.
  • 30.1 Cross Links Track and continue straight ahead.
  • 31.3 Cross Porcupine Ridge Rd and keep following the track.
  • 32.3 Turn right at the trail sign.
  • 35.8 Continue straight ahead on the gravel track; enjoy the view to Mt Franklin to your right.
  • 37.5 Keep going straight ahead on Sawpit Gully Rd.
  • 39.3 At the end of Sawpit Gully Rd, cross the Midland Hwy with care and ride up the track directly opposite.
  • 41.4 Veer right continue and ignore all side tracks.
  • 41.8 At the T-intersection, turn left onto the dirt road.
  • 42.3 Cross the sealed road, turn right, then turn left onto the track just before the Hepburn Park sign.
  • 43.0 Turn right at the track. You can see a sealed road to your left.
  • 43.1 Turn right and continue downhill towards Hepburn Spa.
  • 45.2 Please take care and slow down as you may meet a walker coming uphill towards you.
  • 45.4 Veer left through the car park, pass the barbecue shelter then go down the short steep hill behind the gate. You can top up with mineral water at the hand pump near the small bridge. To continue the ride, go towards the playground and turn left up the steep hill.
  • 45.6 Keep following the track to the left uphill.
  • 47.6 Keep right on the higher track then follow it down hill and across the waterway.
  • 48.8 Veer left uphill then keep going past the reservoir.
  • 49.0 Continue along the sealed road.
  • 50.5 At the end of Jamieson St, turn right for the Daylesford shopping centre.
  • 51.0 Finish.
  • Trail map

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    Back

    46.437 km / 28.855 mi

    Total Distance

    1,037 m / 3,403 ft

    Total Ascent

    594 m / 1,948 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: High
    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): 49.0
    Elevation Gain (metres): 1136
    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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