Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Dingo

Like most Castlemaine rides you start with a series of short steep hills, just to earn a great return ride! The outbound route of this loop ride is mainly dirt roads and narrow dual tracks. At 5.5km you pass the dingo farm before weaving through isolated trails and singletrack. Along the way you encounter a series of gullies with natural drop offs to play on. Further along, you see the brilliant coloured shale and rocky outcrops that are a distinctive feature of these goldfields.

Soon after the start we use Poverty Gully Reservoir Track to get to Dingo Park Road. This is quite hilly but not as technical as the adjacent track beside the water race so if you do not have great technical skills you will still be able to enjoy this terrific little ride. If you have the skills, use the water race and pick up the route from Dingo Park Road.

Nearly all the climbing is done early, then there’s a nice variety of tracks to enjoy. Narrow double tracks pass gold diggings and eroded gullies. Depending on the time of year, you can expect wildflowers, heaps of birdlife and brilliantly coloured shale.

You need to focus on directions the first time you do this ride as a couple of turns are indistinct. When you know the route you can enjoy the flow, especially along the final singletrack sections.

There is so much variety in this ride it can feel much longer than it is, and it works really well to ride in a group with different abilities. When I ran my MTB business we often used this course. If your companions have limited off-road experience, you can help them along the way and soon have them hooked on mountain biking!


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 info centre. A cycle-friendly café is the Theatre Royal, next door to bike shop, in Hargraves Street just to the left of the roundabout.

Side Trip

The dingo farm is not open to the public but you can usually see them through the wire fence. They are very beautiful animals and look very placid in this environment. The enterprise was started by an enthusiast trying to maintain pure breeding stock.

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Leave the information centre car park and turn left onto Forest St, then turn right at the roundabout.
  • 0.3 Turn left onto Greenhill Ave, then keep going on Greenhill Place.
  • 0.8 Turn right up the narrow path at the end of Greenhill, passing in front of houses.
  • 0.9 Continue uphill on Vincent St.
  • 1.3 Turn right onto Ross Dr and continue past all side roads.
  • 1.8 Continue on the dirt road.
  • 2.2 At the Y-intersection, take the left hand fork.
  • 2.7 Cross the water race and keep going straight ahead up the steep hill.
  • 4.5 Keep going straight ahead.
  • 4.7 At the T-intersection, turn right onto Dingo Park Rd. Stay on this road and ignore all side tracks.
  • 5.5 Dingo farm is on your left. At the Y-intersection just ahead take the right hand fork uphill and ignore the side tracks.
  • 7.1 Turn right onto Spring Gully Rd and slow down as you need to take care with the next turn.
  • 7.4 As you descend on a right hand bend, veer left onto a narrow dirt track (Breakneck Hill Track). Ignore all side tracks.
  • 7.7 Keep going straight ahead.
  • 8.0 Turn left at the track intersection then follow as the track veers right.
  • 8.7 Turn left at the track intersection.
  • 8.8 At the T-intersection, turn right onto a wider track.
  • 10.2 At the end of Breakneck Hill Track cross over the sealed Campbells Creek-Fryers Rd and continue on Kemps Bridge Rd. Then, 500m later, after a small hill on a left hand bend turn right at the second track then turn left onto the singletrack 30m later. Follow the singletrack as it drops down into a gully.
  • 11.3 At the end of the singletrack, turn right onto Babbages Rd and keep going straight ahead past all side tracks.
  • 12.8 Turn right at the sharp left hand bend at the bottom of a hill. There is a stone house to your left. Continue past all side tracks.
  • 14.2 At the top of the hill turn off the road onto the dirt track and continue.
  • 14.7 Veer left just before the gate and continue on the singletrack.
  • 15.1 Keep going straight ahead.
  • 15.9 Cross the gully and keep going.
  • 16.4 Veer right onto the singletrack where three trails join.
  • 16.5 Cross Campbells Creek-Fryers Rd and keep going.
  • 16.6 Veer left over the dam wall.
  • 17.2 Continue along the singletrack beside the gully.
  • 17.3 Cross the next gully and keep going straight ahead.
  • 17.5 Turn left onto Hawkins Rd.
  • 17.8 Keep going straight ahead past Arthurs Track.
  • 18.2 At the junction turn right, Rowley Park Rd.
  • 19.1 Turn right at the crest of the hill; Morris Track.
  • 19.6 Turn left onto the singletrack running alongside the fenceline. There is an old concrete telecom post to your left, and a short rocky section of track ahead.
  • 20.4 Veer left and pass the house, then veer right a short distance later and follow the track beside the fenceline. There is a large steel farm shed behind you as you turn.
  • 21.0 Keep right and pass the dam on your left then go left again at the next intersection.
  • 21.3 Turn right at the intersection and head uphill.
  • 21.6 Cross Poverty Gully Reservoir Rd and then turn left at Water Race Track.
  • 22.1 Keep going straight ahead on the sealed road.
  • 22.6 Turn left at the T-intersection.
  • 22.7 At the next T-intersection turn right, then left at the roundabout.
  • 23.8 Finish.
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    22.996 km / 14.289 mi

    Total Distance

    629 m / 2,063 ft

    Total Ascent

    610 m / 2,001 ft

    Total Descent

    419 m / 1,375 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 23.5
    Elevation Gain: 382
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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