Welsh Village

Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike, Welsh Village

How much can you pack into a 23km trip? This ride has a terrific variety of tracks and the places you visit are intriguing. This terrific loop ride takes you through two amazing historical sites and a quaint township followed by a three kilometre singletrack that will have you grinning! If you want to concentrate on the historical sites you can avoid the technical singletrack by turning right at Chewton. Head back to Castlemaine on the bike path, just off the highway on the right.

Just after one kilometre from town and you are on a simple dirt trail which takes you to the well maintained tracks through the pine plantations. A few gentle climbs then a descent on narrow tracks get you to the Welsh Village historical site. This is an isolated spot so don’t expect hordes of tourists. Please treat this unique site with respect, explore on foot and avoid disturbing the ruins. The area was once a gold miners’ village with many Welsh families banding together. A school, church and slate homes surrounded the mineshafts visible today. A great deal of gold was extracted from the surrounding area. When you see the depth of hand dug mine shafts and the size of some rock slabs used for building, you get some idea of the human energy that once prevailed here.

At 10km the Garfield Water Wheel is an imposing reminder of the money and effort involved in the search for gold with the huge wheel powered quartz crushing batteries and other nearby reminders of the gold era. Disconnect your computer and explore. You pass by the historical town of Chewton which has a beautiful streetscape. You can get a coffee here also. There is a short bit of tar beside the highway before climbing up to an isolated bush track that gets you up to the Poverty Gully Water Race. This was built by hand in the gold era to move water many kilometres. It now provides a fabulous singletrack ride that requires some skill and concentration. Take care and give way to walkers if you happen to meet one.

After the water race we end with a nice downhill run to town and you will feel that you have covered more than 23km!

Don’t be put off by the technical rating of the ride if your main interest is seeing the historical sites. The technical sections are not long and can be easily walked and you can also miss the technical Water Race by using the road or bike path from Chewton.

Access

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.

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 info centre.

Side Trip

Pop into the information centre in Castlemaine. There you can pick up information about Welsh Village, Garfield Wheel and Chewton.

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Exit the car park and turn left onto Forest Rd (Pyrenees Highway) then keep going straight ahead at the roundabout and past all side roads.
  • 0.9 Turn onto Happy Valley Rd, and ignore all side tracks.
  • 2.3 Keep going straight ahead at the Yintersection.
  • 3.0 Keep going straight ahead at the cross tracks then keep to the main track to the right.
  • 4.0 Veer right and continue on the lower track.
  • 4.5 Cross Coles Rd, continue on Williamson Rd, ignore side tracks.
  • 6.0 Turn right onto Dog Leg Track and continue.
  • 6.3 Turn left onto Clarks Rd, continue past all side tracks.
  • 6.7 At end of Clarks Rd, continue a short distance, then turn right through two steel gate posts then ...
  • 6.8 Turn left downhill. (There is a small sign showing a pick and shovel.) Continue past all side tracks.
  • 7.0 Keep left.
  • 7.2 Welsh Village ruins. Explore on foot and do not ride on ruins. Just before the large rubble wall, turn left uphill on the indistinct track and follow as it passes a fenced mineshaft. Then continue past an old quarry site and join a wider trail
  • 7.7 Turn sharp left downhill then ...
  • 7.8 Turn sharp right up hill, just before the Welsh Village Park sign.
  • 7.9 Junction. Go past the large pine tree and follow the track to the left.
  • 8.3 Follow the track bearing right up a steep hill. Ride to the very top, ignoring the trail to the left, then, once you reach the ridgeline, turn left onto a wider trail.
  • 8.8 Continue straight ahead.
  • 8.9 Continue straight ahead.
  • 9.4 Continue straight ahead.
  • 10.0 Garfield Wheel site. Disconnect your computer and explore. To continue the ride, go past the information sign in the direction of Castlemaine and follow the Goldfields Track signs.
  • 10.3 Cross the dirt road and continue.
  • 10.5 Veer left at the sign.
  • 10.9 Veer right at the Goldfields Track sign, (take care with next instruction).
  • 11.1 Turn left at the next sign (against direction of arrow). This is Fairbairn St.
  • 12.3 At end of Fairbairn St, turn right on the sealed road, North St.
  • 12.6 Cross over Pyrenees Hwy and turn right on the bike lane. If you want to explore Chewton, disconnect your computer and go left for 100m.
  • 13.5 Turn left at Eureka St, just past the service station and continue uphill.
  • 15.0 Turn right onto the wide track going downhill, just past the prison boundary fence.
  • 15.4 Veer right and continue going downhill.
  • 15.5 Turn sharp left uphill. (The track ahead ends at the prison boundary.)
  • 16.8 Keep going straight ahead uphill. (Track to the right goes to Gallway St.)
  • 17.4 Just after passing a house on your right, turn left at the track intersection.
  • 17.6 Turn left up the steep eroded track. Most of this is rideable apart from one short stretch that will have most people needing to walk. If you prefer an easier option, keep going straight ahead instead of turning left. You rejoin the ride 1km later but miss some of the great singletrack.
  • 17.9 At the top of the climb, join the Poverty Gully Water Race and turn right.
  • 18.9 Veer left and continue on the Water Race.
  • 19.1 Take care as there is a steep rocky section ahead. Use the road on your right for 100m if you prefer. Continue on the Water Race as it crosses a couple of minor dirt roads.
  • 20.0 Cross Ajax Track and continue on the Water Race.
  • 20.8 At the end of the Water Race, turn right and pass to the right of the dam.
  • 21.2 Turn left at the sealed road near Castlemaine Secondary College, then right at the next, Wilkie St.
  • 22.1 Turn left at James St.
  • 22.5 Turn right at the highway and continue under the railway bridge. The road is very narrow under the bridge so consider using the path. Turn right at the traffic lights ahead.
  • 23.0 Finish.
  • Trail map

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    Back

    21.495 km / 13.357 mi

    Total Distance

    589 m / 1,934 ft

    Total Ascent

    570 m / 1,869 ft

    Total Descent

    422 m / 1,384 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Gravel
    Various
    Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: High
    MTB Segment: flow
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 21.9
    Elevation Gain: 780
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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