Cycle Victoria, Mountain Bike Ride, Wimmera River Trail Ride
Horsham is the thriving centre 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 walkers and a few cyclists at the start and virtually no one at the end.
Horsham is 300 kilometres 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 into 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 kilometres, 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 along side 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 the 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 down stream 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.
5.789 km / 3.597 mi
36 m / 119 ft
39 m / 127 ft
134 m / 439 ft