Tag: Advanced

Goldfields Track – Ballarat-Creswick-Daylesford-Castlemaine-Bendigo – 210km one way

At 210km long, the Goldfields Track is the longest shared use track in Victoria. From its southern end at Mt Buniyong, it links the 1850s gold rush era towns of Ballarat, Creswick, Daylesford and Castlemaine to Bendigo.

Whether you ride or walk, the Goldfields Track offers challenge and exhilaration as it crosses the Dividing Range and descends through forest to the northern plains. Unlike any other trail, the Goldfields Track embraces the boomtown heritage in towns strung out en route and follows the traces that the hundreds of thousands of ‘diggers’ left behind in forests and gullies, beside creeks and rivers, and on plains and mountaintops.

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Cultural heritage is at the forefront of the Goldfields Track. With the diggers long gone, you contour high on water races through narrow, high-walled gullies pockmarked with mine shafts and riddled with stone ruins. You follow abandoned railway lines and timber tramway systems on embankments and through cuttings. You walk or ride beside the heritage-protected Coliban water channel, with its artificial bluestone-sculpted waterfalls and views across golden paddocks.

And when your legs are weary, there are plenty of pit stops and diversions at towns en route from the gracious elegance of Buninyong, Ballarat and Creswick to the mineral spas and bars of Daylesford and the arts and culture of Castlemaine and Bendigo.

Four interlinked tracks make up the Goldfields Track.

• Eureka Track (43km) – from the ancient volcanic crater of Mt Buninyong, the Eureka Track heads through the heart of stately Buninyong and Ballarat, before plunging into a gold rush era churned landscape and on to Norman Lindsay’s home town of Creswick.

• Wallaby Track (52km) – starts with new Creswick Heritage Walk. From there, it’s uphill past St Georges Lake and rolling pastoral countryside ringed by volcanic hills to contour next to the state’s longest timber tramway system and a traverse through an impressive one kilometre long railway cutting on a long abandoned railway line.

• Dry Diggings Track (58km) –From the wet temperate forests on top of the Divide to the dry northern plains, it’s a roller coaster journey for most of the way and not recommended for the inexperienced walker or novice rider.

• Leanganook Track (61km) – Gold rush era heritage abounds from Castlemaine and Bendigo’s glorious streetscapes to the massive foundations for the giant Garfield water wheel and the ruins of a Welsh village and its associated slate quarry.

From an entry station or vehicle access point, it is just a matter of following the gold-painted posts with their distinctive Goldfields Track (GT) logo. In towns, you will see blue signs on street posts with the GT logo. Each of the four tracks that make up the Goldfields Track is accessible by train. All major towns have good car access.

Maps and a recently updated guidebook (December 2017) can be purchased from Hepburn Shire visitor information centres. Each of the four tracks can be broken into one day rides or shorter walks as highlighted in the Goldfields Track Walk or Ride Guide. Information on a walks program is available from the Great Dividing Trail Association (www.gdt.org.au) and accommodation and mountain bike information are available from the Goldfields Track Inc. (www.goldfieldstrack.com.au)

The Goldfields Track began life as the Great Dividing Trail in 1992. It was originally developed and maintained by volunteer bushwalkers, who were members of the Great Dividing Trail Association (GDTA), a non-profit incorporated association. In 2008, the GDTA commissioned a business plan that led to the establishment of a Goldfields Track project committee of land managers and stakeholders. Marketing and promotion became the responsibility of a new incorporated association, now known as Goldfields Track Incorporated (GTI). Representatives on this committee come from land managers such as Parks Victoria, DELWP and Coliban Water; the four councils along the track’s route (Ballarat, Hepburn, Mt Alexander and Bendigo); and mountain biker, walker and community representatives.

The Goldfields Track serves up a unique combination of a roller coaster ride and the chance to travel back a century and a half to the greatest gold rush that the world has ever seen.

Photos courtesy of Gib Wettenhall

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