If you enjoy rugged bushland, rolling countryside, interesting historic architecture and good cafes this ride will interest you. Starting in the buzzy historic town of Castlemaine, the ride takes you through Australia’s largest nonindigenous heritage park to Fryerstown. Set in a pretty valley with a creek running through the middle, Fryerstown has been taken straight out of a time capsule. You head back to Castlemaine through a different section of forest-covered range and come out at Campbells Creek and a pleasant ride back into town.
Surfaced country roads, largely running through the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. The sections along the Pyrenees and Midland highways mostly have bike lanes of varying width.
Traffic on the highways can be steady but should not be of much concern to cyclists. Chewton and Campbells Creek roads have much less traffic but are not as wide and have no shoulder.
Castlemaine is 120 kilometres north of Melbourne off the Calder Highway via Elphinstone and Chewton. There are regular V Line trains from Southern Cross Station to Castlemaine daily. The ride commences in the car park at the Castlemaine visitor information centre in Forest Street. VicRoads Map: 628 G7.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of places to stock up in Castlemaine. Along the way there are some interesting cafes in Chewton and later at Campbells Creek after you get back on the Midland Highway. Fryerstown is a nice place to stop for a break, although there are no shops and limited facilities there.
You could continue on to Vaughan, visiting the Vaughan Mineral Springs and then come onto the Midland Highway at Yapeen. If you have mountain bikes you could also ride along the Great Dividing Trail which cuts through Fryerstown.
The ride starts outside the Castlemaine Visitors Information Centre that was the original town market built in 1862. There is a lot to see and do in Castlemaine including the art gallery and museum, inspecting the many old buildings, antique shopping, bushwalking and cycling.
A good time to visit is during the Castlemaine State Festival held annually in early April. Heading out of town along the Pyrenees Highway the ride heads through Chewton passing turnoffs to the Pennyweight Flat Cemetery and the Forest Creek Historic Gold Diggings with an interpretive trail and gold panning. The cemetery has an inordinately sad number of children’s graves from the gold rush.
At the other end of Chewton the ride strikes out toward Fryerstown heading through an old railway tunnel beyond which lies the forest and the Heritage National Park. The first example of this area’s mining history you pass is the still operational Wattle Gully Gold Mine with its towering poppet head. Along the road there are a number of trails heading off to remnants of the gold era, including Escot Grave and Herons Reef Diggings. This section of the road is the most up-hill, so keep at it as the worst will soon be over. Along the road the most stunning site is the ruins of the Duke of Cornwall engine house standing forlornly beside the road on private land surrounded by a safety fence. It is not long before you come into Fryerstown, which appears as you turn a corner in the road.
From here you can follow the Great Dividing Trail into the heart of the Heritage Park to visit Spring Gully Junction Mine where there are five intact historic quartz mines. The track starts beside the ‘Boot Manufacturers’ store. There are plenty of interesting buildings in Fryerstown, not least the Burke and Wills Memorial Hall built in honour of the expeditioning pair. Leaving the town the road twists around out into farming and bushland.
At the Campbells Creek turn you could go onto Vaughan Springs for a slightly longer ride, or turn right and up a bit of a climb before the descent into Campbells Creek. Back on the Midlands Highway the ride is gentle and there are a few interesting antique and bookshops along the way before you come back into Castlemaine.
- 0.0 Leave the visitor information center car park and turn left into Forest St (Pyrenees Hwy).
- 0.1 Head straight through the roundabout over Hargreaves St.
- 0.4 The highway veers to the right. The road has a good shoulder at this point.
- 0.9 Cross the Forest St Bridge.
- 1.4 On the right is the turn off to the local velodrome.
- 1.6 On the left is the turn off to the Pennyweight Flat Cemetery.
- 2.4 On the right is the turn off to the Forest Creek Mining Reserve.
- 2.9 You are coming into Chewton.
- 3.9 Turn right at the Chewton sports ground where you will see the sign to Fryerstown. Not long after you pass under the old railway bridge you will come to the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park on your right.
- 7.0 On your left is the turnoff to Escot Grave.
- 8.3 You pass by the turn off to Herons Reef Diggings.
- 9.9 You can’t miss the Duke of Cornwall Engine House.
- 10.5 Turn right into High St as you come into Fryerstown.
- 10.7 Look out for the Boot Manufacturer as you turn left into Castlemaine St and cross over Fryers Creek.
- 10.8 You might like to take a short detour to the local cemetery down Market St to the left.
- 12.4 Turn right onto the Campbells Creek Rd.
- 19.2 Once over the railway line follow the right-hand fork in the road.
- 19.4 You come to a T-intersection at the Midland Hwy where you turn right.
- 19.7 There’s a small reserve here if you’re in need of a toilet stop.
- 21.8 Passing the Pyrenees Hwy turn to Maldon, cross the railway line and continue ahead.
- 22.7 Go under the railway bridge and follow the road around to the left as you re-enter Castlemaine.
- 23.1 Turn right at the Barker and Forest St intersection where the sign points to Melbourne.
- 23.2 Turn left into the car park and the end of the ride
23.273 km / 14.461 mi
244 m / 802 ft
244 m / 802 ft
407 m / 1,336 ft