Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Water Channel To Bendigo
A traffic free non-technical track beside Coliban water channel to the outskirts of Bendigo. There is something for everyone in this one way ride. A few short hills and gullies with rougher sections of track followed by fast, smooth sections of dirt and a bit of narrow track. Ridden fast, the gentle bends give a nice flowing feel to the ride that has a real sense of journey.
You can experience this ride a number of ways if you think out and back is too big a day. Consider organising a car lift from Bendigo back to the start or catching the train to Castlemaine then a car lift back to where you started.
Usually, rides beside water channels are flat affairs with just a gentle gradient to help the water to its destination. For much of the journey this ride is just like that but there are also some quite steep climbs and descents not long after the start. The water channel forms part of the Goldfields Track between Castlemaine and Bendigo. At the time of writing, a mountain bike setion from Castlemaine to the water channel is being planned. The existing walking track goes over Mount Alexander and is not rideable due to the steep and rocky terrain.
The early part of the ride has beautiful long distance views over the surrounding farm country. This area is quite open so there is not much shade; further along on the flatter sections there is some tree cover. There are also a few minor dirt roads to cross, then the track gets nice and narrow as you reach Sandhurst Reservoir.
As you approach Bendigo, you can choose to keep following the Goldfields Track signs or make your own way into town.
By car: Castlemaine is an easy one and a half hours or 120 kilometres northwest of Melbourne via the Calder Freeway. (Melway X909 D6.)
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.
Start point for this ride is where the Coliban water channel meets Sutton Grange Road, ~13 kilometres northeast of Castlemaine, past Barkers Creek and Harcourt. Take the Midland or Calder Freeway to Harcourt, then head east along Market Street, take Reservoir Road then Coopers Road till it intersects Sutton Grange Road. Continue a short distance to where the Coliban water channel meets Sutton Grange Road, near a stand pipe just after Joseph Young Drive. (Melway Ref X 609 E5) or 59 05 on the Hayman’s Daylesford – Castlemaine – Ballarat forest activities map.
Food and Drink
Best to load up in Castlemaine or Harcourt. Harcourt is famous for its apples and you can get these and other very good quality local fruit from a couple of roadside shops soon after Castlemaine. Plenty of good options in Bendigo when you arrive.
Both Bendigo and Castlemaine are very popular tourist destinations with many interesting attractions. After this ride you may want to do a leisurely bike tour of Bendigo or return to spend more time exploring.
Few directions are required until you approach Bendigo, simply follow the channel. As you reach the outskirts of Bendigo just continue to follow the Goldfields Track signs.
80.579 km / 50.069 mi
1,288 m / 4,225 ft
1,473 m / 4,833 ft
456 m / 1,496 ft