Cycle Melbourne, Mountain bike Ride, Eureka Singletrack Loop
Fun factor extreme, historical interest, mind-blowing! Long, sinewy slabs of singletrack across Castlemaine rock, through mines, mullock heaps, old ruins from gold rush days before a scintillating downhill run along the Poverty Gully Water Race.
If historical sites don’t interest you, the visual beauty along the way surely will. In bright sunshine the colour of the rock and shale is stunning. This ride reeks with the legacy of human spirit. Seeing the effort of diggers who toiled through this rugged landscape brings a sense of awe.
After a short ride out of town, you hit the dirt beside the railway line. This rail service track is straight forward except for one wet spot in a gully and a brief section of chunky rock. This is hard country and the eucalypts are stunted in the shaley soil. Turning off the rail track, you pass under an historic bridge that, unlike many modern bridges, is a thing of great beauty with form, function and a simple arch.
Just after the mine you start climbing in rocky terrain on singletrack that takes you to the Poverty Gully Water Race. You get some insight into our colloquial term ‘digger’ when you see the rocks that men of yes- teryear dug through to construct these water channels.
After the water race, a rough track takes you to the flanks of a prominent hill called ‘The Monk’ and a lovely singletrack then takes you down to Dingo Park Road and into our next goldfield experience at Eureka Reef. A signed two kilometre singletrack takes you past a series of gold era ruins: mine shafts, building remains and mullock heaps.
After Eureka Reef we include a short scramble from a dead-end track down to the final section of water race. You can avoid this if you wish by continuing further along Dingo Park Road and joining the water raceat the sign.
This last section of water race is beguiling. It starts with a gentle roll downhill and at times the track is less than handlebar width with some occasional rock and tree obstacles. With a bit of practice you can ride this reasonably quickly and it is a real buzz! Two tips to make it flow: 1) Look well ahead at where you want to go, not where you fear going and 2) Ride a slightly bigger gear than usual; this really helps your balance.
The ride ends with a downhill gallop on the bitumen.
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 information centre. A cycle-friendly café is the Theatre Royal, next door to bike shop, in Har- graves Street just to the left of the roundabout.
There is more than enough to explore on the ride. Pick up a leaflet about Eureka Reef from the information centre before you start, and allow plenty of time to explore.
16.076 km / 9.989 mi
458 m / 1,501 ft
441 m / 1,447 ft
436 m / 1,432 ft