Horsham is the thriving center of Victoria’s Wimmera region, noted for its vast wheat farms that blanket the plains. Seasonal rainfall is crucial to the wellbeing of this community and there is no better place to experience what water does for this region than down along the Wimmera River. This ride takes you from the formal botanic gardens along the riverbank and past the old weir to the recently rejuvenated wetlands. Going beyond that you ride into the river’s natural habitat of waterholes enveloped by tall river red gums.
This is a riverside trail that goes from being a well-maintained surface shared pathway to bush tracks with a smooth unsealed section in the middle. Even the rough bits are fairly easy to negotiate on a bike.
There are plenty of users walking and cycling at the start and virtually no one at the end.
Horsham is 300 kilometers west of Melbourne on the Western Highway, via Ballarat, Ararat, and Stawell. Crossing the Wimmera River coming into Horsham’s CBD head to the left at the roundabout down O’Callaghans Parade. Turn left at Baker Street and immediately left again onto Firebrace Street. The ride starts in the Dixon Drive car park next to the Horsham Angling Club at the end of Firebrace Street as it turns to the left beside the river. VicRoads Map: 544 F7.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of cafes, bakeries and so forth in Horsham. A good one, close by, is the Fig Tree Café in Wilson Street, turning right off Firebrace Street.
The riverside path also heads in the other direction for a couple of kilometers but is not as pretty or interesting as this ride.
Before you even start this ride the miniature railway park that you have parked in front of might distract you. If you’re interested in a ride, the miniature trains get up a head of steam on the second Sunday of the month between 1.00pm and 4.00pm. Also worth exploring behind the caravan park, are the botanic gardens designed by William Guilfoyle, who was also responsible for Melbourne’s plot.
The gardens are more than just that, as apart from the formal gardens, you will find a wetlands area, the riverside that you are about to explore, sporting facilities and the caravan park. The area is also significant to the local Kooris. The ride starts in pleasant surroundings alongside the river, sheltered by mature red gums. You are bound to pass the many locals who take their daily constitutional along here. Use of the river for recreation is a long-standing pastime with boys swimming in the river from the beginnings of settlement.
A swimming pool was built along here in 1908 and was used up until the 1950s. A slight detour along the way is the path over the bridge out to the small island where you will find a picnic area and large playground. The weir you are about to come upon holds the river back along this part of the ride. Apart from maintaining the river level for recreation, the weir’s original purpose was for the town’s water supply. It also helps control flooding, which seems hard to believe in these times of drought. However, the blue poles near the weir provide evidence of flood levels for you to see.
Past the weir you ride into the rejuvenated wetlands area where you will find plenty of birdlife. You can ride around all the paths that twist in and out of this section, but keep heading downstream where you will soon come into natural habitat. Here you will find plenty of water holes full of logs and debris shed by the trees. It’s a slightly dejected place, but you can be sure the furry, scaly and feathered inhabitants find it just fine. Most of the year you will be able to cross the ford and head back on the other side.
- 0.0 The ride commences in the car park beside the river between the caravan park and Sawyer Park. The path heads to the right, west along the side of the river.
- 0.5 The track branches here. It does not matter which path you choose.
- 0.7 You now pass the turn off to the island over the bridge.
- 2.3 The path comes beside the car park to a picnic area at the weir.
- 2.5 Riding beside the toilets you enter the wetlands where you will find multiple tracks that you can explore.
- 3.1 Further downstream from the main track you cross a small bridge on the left and continue on. The track from here on is unsealed.
- 3.9 You come to farm gates on the track and go left over a ford. The ride then goes left following the trail back along the other side of the river.
- 5.0 The track rejoins the wetland pathways that reach over to this side of the river. You can choose to go back on those pathways or continue on straight ahead keeping to the trails on the left that follow the riverbank.
- 5.5 You have come to the weir wall. Take the path to the left crossing back over the river to rejoin where you entered the wetlands near the toilets. Continuing ahead will take you a short distance further along the river, but eventually the path ends at some farm fences.
- 5.8 From the weir car park return along the riverside path back toward Horsham.
5.789 km / 3.597 mi
36 m / 119 ft
39 m / 127 ft
134 m / 439 ft