Signs Pointed to a Relaxing Ride on Australia Day
Previous evening checked out GDTA web site for warnings and geocaching website for Leanganook caches route. First train to Bendigo, really comfortable V'locity units with good bike stowage (select carriage door with bike symbol). On arrival at city side of the station we reviewed the large route map. The first direction sign is so high up in the concourse, you almost have to crane to see it. In essence you head over the footbridge spanning the tracks, ahead on the small street and at the corner are your first Goldfields Track (GT) signs. These unusually are white on blue as at right. The blue signs are on the Bendigo streets while the GT gold topped posts (example below) are in the bushland.
An unsuccessful search near the station for a geocache and we were off on the GT towards Castlemaine. Some flood signs but the track in pretty good condition overall. 1.7km from the station you turn off Houston St into Wirrana St. Do not follow the sharp bend in Wirrana St – instead, straight across a dirt car park to the far side is the first GT post at the entrance to the Salomon Gully Flora Reserve. There's a tricky geocache near here if you have time.
It was a delightful morning and after the first 5km or so we had blown away our cobwebs only to encounter real ones that told us we were first on those track segments. Bendigo bushland has always had a few deficiencies in track signing but now, with just 3 reported exceptions, it is excellent.
Coliban Main Channel
At 14k you leave the Sandhurst reservoir wire fence for the Coliban Main Channel with 25% of your ride over. Months of rain had softened many sections of track until Harpers Rd. Some flood damage to the channel was evident and many fallen trees had been cleared. I had never really taken stock before of the variety of underpasses and overpasses of the channel. Most of these were to carry cross streams but some were for people, animal or stock access. I doubt if two were of the same design. From bluestone to almost fresh concrete and steel railings, generations were well represented. Select photo album from left sidebar for some examples.
The first crossing of the channel in either direction enters private land for a short time. Unfortunately arrows high in the trees have gone but currently the GT track is the principal track you see. From the N about 50m after you cross (photo) you will see a track curving to your L and R. The L arm is correct.
Unfortunately flows were too low for any spectacular show at the dissipators. The Brennans and Wirths Tunnels hills both had extensive scouring on the slower slopes. Care is needed downhill as there are soft patches into which your front wheel will readily sink. Off the S side of Brennans hill, the smooth riding down the right side berm ends suddenly in a mini crevasse that is hard to spot. Fences (photo) at Wirths Tunnel S side are due to landslips. An excavator and various workmen were hard at repairs to the channel just a bit further S.
Short Cut to Castlemaine
Having seen the previous week the damage to the GT (since closed) close to Castlemaine, I surmised that many parts of the Mt Alexander (since closed) and Castlemaine Diggings hill route would be scoured and have fallen trees. So with another 60% of the route under our wheels, we took a short cut up the tarmac esses, then via Harcourt orchards, across the old Calder into Blackjack Rd and wended our way into Castlemaine arriving at the station for the trip home with 52km on the clock. A very satisfying Australia Day.