Six of the best cycling tracks in Victoria’s Goldfields

Family riding through Goldfield's Track

Wendy Hargreaves

Posted November 23, 2020

Discovering Victoria’s Goldfields region is even more fun on two wheels.

Victoria's spectacular Goldfields region is cross-crossed with cycling paths, from cruisy rail trails to adrenalin-charged mountain bike tracks. And every trail leads to a quaint historic town, rich in gold rush history and studded with cafes, galleries, spas and shops to explore.

“When you’re out riding, the real highlight is stopping off in a country town for a meal, which means trying the local beer, cider or wine,” says Blue Dirt Mountain Biking owner Brett Hollis, who runs shuttles and bike tours.

Brett recommends organising pick up and drop off shuttles or luggage transfers when booking accommodation at each town to make the trip smoother.

Riding the track to Castlemaine

Maldon Steam Train to Castlemaine. Photo: Visit Victoria

Six of the best cycling tracks in Victoria's goldfields

Goldfield's Track

Victoria’s longest off-road cycling trail is a mecca for mountain bikers, winding 210km along the spine of the Great Dividing Range between Ballarat and Bendigo.

The narrow track is too gravelly and rocky for hybrid or racing bikes, but it’s considered a bucket-list mountain bike ride, passing through bushland, historic gold diggings and the tourist-friendly towns of Creswick, Daylesford, Hepburn Springs, Castlemaine and Harcourt.

The ride is broken into three sections. The 90km Wallaby Track starts at Mount Buninyong and passes through Ballarat and Creswick to Daylesford. The history-packed Dry Diggings Track goes 60km from Daylesford to Hepburn Springs and Castlemaine. This leg is a tougher ride, so make sure you pop in to the Chocolate Mill, where RACV members save 10 per cent on purchases, for a sweet energy boost on the way. The Leanganook Track links Castlemaine to Bendigo, a 60km ride.

Tread Harcourt’s Paula Ewing and Andrew Bos organise shuttle drop-offs and pick-ups along the Goldfields Track to deliver cyclists and their luggage to and from accommodation.

“People catch the train to Ballarat with their bikes,” Paula says. “We meet them at the station and transfer their luggage to their next stop, so it’s waiting for them at the end of a day’s riding. It’s a great way to see the Goldfields region, without the worry of carrying your gear.”

RACV’s Goldfields Resort in Creswick is another cyclist haven, with the Goldfields Track running right by the back door. There is also a 4.5km mountain bike track around the resort’s golf course to warm up the legs. If you're bringing your own wheels, the secure on-site bike storage area offers a bike wash, bike tools and racks. Please note that you'll have to bring your own bike lock.

Brett says Creswick is an ideal base for half and full-day rides on the Goldfields Track.

“Most riders have a partner or friends who don’t want to do the riding,” Brett says. “They can drop you and your bike in Ballarat and drive on to Daylesford for the day, meeting you there later on. Same goes for the ride to Castlemaine. Both towns have plenty to keep people busy for the day while you sweat it out on the track.”

Castlemaine-Maldon Rail Trail

For a more leisurely ride, the 18km Castlemaine-Maldon Rail Trail is an ideal day trip. The bike track winds beside the steam-powered Victorian Goldfields Tourist Train, which usually puffs its way along the old tracks, but the service closed for restoration work when the coronavirus lockdown started in March.

Check in with the railway’s social media channels for a restart date in coming months, and plan one of the best cycling day trips in Victoria – riding from Castlemaine to Maldon, enjoying a coffee and a stroll around the historic mining town before catching the old steam train back to Castlemaine, where you can unwind at recently reopened cultural precinct The Mill.

Mount Tarrangower Bike Park

For more advanced mountain bikers, Brett recommends the downhill tracks at the Mount Tarrangower Bike Park on the outskirts of Maldon. Local riding enthusiasts built the trails, with plenty of rocks and jumps along the way.

Couple riding bikes in forest

Goldfield's Track

O'Keefe Rail Trail

The 49km O’Keefe Rail Trail runs between Lake Weeroona in Bendigo via pint-sized Axedale to Heathcote, navigating pretty eucalypt forests filled with native birds and wildlife. The 53km Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail is open to all ability levels, leading from Ballarat’s Avenue of Honour past history-packed sites such as the Chinese gold-mining settlement at Nintingbool, and Nimmons trestle bridge.

Black Hill Bike Park

Mountain bikers searching for speed should check out Ballarat’s Black Hill Bike Park, set up like a ski field with downhill beginner runs through to double black diamond trails. Brett says the park has “something for everyone”, with jumps, tree roots, rock gardens, berms and steep drops.

Ballarat Heritage Ride

The bitumen byways of the Goldfields region also have plenty to offer weekend warriors of all abilities. The prosperity that poured in at the height of 1850s gold fever can still be felt in the increasingly vibrant, cycle-mad cities of Bendigo and Ballarat. Swing past Welcome Nugget Bike Hire next to Ballarat Railway Station and potter around the popular 6km Lake Wendouree circuit nearby, or set out on the 9km Ballarat Heritage Ride to historical hubs such as the Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens and Sovereign Hill.

Explore cultured little Bendigo on a compact 1970s foldable bike from Brompton Bendigo Bike Hire in Wine Bank on View. The Bendigo Art Gallery is an essential stop, flanked by other heritage buildings in View Street’s arts hub. If you’re keen to join locals for a more intense session, see for regular cycling meet-ups.

Gourmands will find ample reason to take the treadlie on the back roads of Harcourt. Wind your way around the base of Mount Alexander to Sutton Grange Winery, pick up a souvenir bottle of BlackJack Wines’ acclaimed red and visit the Bress cellar door on Harmony Way for paddock-to-plate dining – with an easy pedal back downhill to Harcourt afterwards.