Flow’s Goldfields Adventure | Exploring the best mountain bike trails in Victoria’s Goldfields region

Wil and the crew take us on a Goldfields adventure

Located in Central Victoria, the Goldfields Track is a 210km point-to-point route that runs from Ballarat to Bendigo. This off-road journey has historically been a walking track, but it’s become increasingly popular with mountain bikers. Splitting neatly into a three-day ride, it’s a fantastic adventure that I’ve had the pleasure of undertaking several times since I began riding 25 years ago.

While it is arguably one of the best point-to-point rides in Australia, the Goldfields Track isn’t the only reason you’d visit this part of the world. Following the mountain biking boom, there are bunch of riding spots that have sprouted up along its length, all of which are worthy of further exploration on their own. On top of that, there are some exciting plans for trail development in the near future, highlighting this region’s embrace of all things two-wheeled.

And so with the Goldfields Track as our guide, I decided to team up with some pals to embark on a road trip. The plan was to visit some of the towns and riding destinations along the way, sampling as much of the local produce and the diversity of riding this region has to offer.

Check out the video on our Goldfields adventure!

ballarat black hill mtb park
Evidence of the area’s gold mining past, the pink rock face in the Black Hill MTB Park makes for an amazing backdrop on two wheels.

Ballarat – Black Hill MTB Park

To kick off our Goldfields adventure, I met up with the Flow J-team of Jono, Big Jack, Little Jack and Justin, in Ballarat. A 90-minute drive west of Melbourne (or just over an hour on a V-Line train), Ballarat is a big regional town that typically forms the starting point for mountain bikers who are heading off on their 3-day Goldfields Track journey.

For many cyclists, Ballarat will of course be famous for the Road National Championships that takes place in January each year. Along with road and gravel riding, there’s also some good mountain biking to be had around Ballarat. In terms of sanctioned trails you can get some great XC and trail riding around Woowookarung (formerly known as Canadian Forest), while more gravity-inclined folks will naturally, err, gravitate towards the Black Hill MTB Park.

ballarat black hill mtb park
The pine trees in the Black Hill Reserve make for great soil conditions for the purpose-built singletrack.
ballarat black hill mtb park
Practicing aerial form along the popular Claim Jumper. There were rows and rows of groms hitting repeat laps of this section all day long!

Managed by Club Mud, the Black Hill MTB Park is situated in the Black Hill Preserve just 3km from the centre of town. It’s a small parcel of land, but the trailbuilders have done well to maximise the area and elevation. There are four DH tracks that start from the top, a couple of blue and green loops that run around the perimeter, a skills area and two pump tracks.

With a bitumen access road all the way to the top, it’s a popular spot for gravity riders. Club Mud puts on Wednesday night shuttles during the summer months, and it also hosts the King Of Ballarat downhill race series.

ballarat black hill mtb park
Ripping turns and tyres off rims. Kapow!

During our visit, the club had put the word out that Flow would be shooting at Black Hill MTB Park, and it seemed that every grom in Ballarat decided to join in on the action. We spent some time sessioning sections of Claim Jumper, Alluvial and Open Cut, watching kids riding bikes way too big for them send it to the moon. It was brilliant fun, and had us all wishing that we’d had a bike park on the edge of town when we were growing up. If you’re keen on practicing jump lines and working on your downhill flow, this is a spot to put on your list.

creswick mtb trails
The shuttle service in Creswick isn’t luxurious, but it gets the job done.

Creswick – New trails incoming

The following day we took a 20 minute drive up the road to the small ex-gold mining town of Creswick. You’ll likely know this name from the news of its forthcoming trail development, which will see 60km of singletrack incorporated into a brand new network.

It was recently announced that Dirt Art had won the contract to build the new trails, with the first phase due to be completed in 2023. The Victorian Government has also revealed that Creswick will play host for the mountain biking event during the 2026 Commonwealth Games, which is a huge win for the area.

creswick mtb trails
There is some fantastic backcountry trail riding in the current Creswick mountain bike network, and it’s only set to get better.
creswick mtb trails
The trail conditions are rocky in spots, and the soil drains well too.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of riding to sink your teeth into. Along with the Goldfields Track, which weaves its way right through town, there’s loads of scenic unsealed roads for those looking to do some gravel exploration of the wider region. Creswick is also home to a surprisingly vibrant cyclocross scene, with a popular race series held during the colder months of the year.

There’s a 7km XC loop at the RACV Goldfields Resort, which runs around the outside of the golf course and is free for anyone to ride. It’s not overly technical, and it makes the resort an appealing option for families who are looking to stay for a long weekend.

Back in town you’ll find the Hammon Park Recreation Reserve, which will serve as the trailhead for the new Creswick trail network. There’s already a sealed pump track and dirt jump set here, with a skills area and more facilities due to be added soon.

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Just outside of Creswick, Sailors Falls is absolutely humming with all the recent rain.

While there’s plenty of fresh singletrack planned, the new network will make use of some of Creswick’s existing trails that will be updated and signposted as part of the development. To get a feel for what’s to come, we joined some local riders for a tour of the more popular options. We were guided by Paul Williams, the owner of Le Péché Gourmand; a French-inspired bakery in town that makes remarkably tasty almond croissants, amongst many other delightful baked goods.

There’s a definite backcountry feel to the riding around Creswick, with the rolling terrain providing plenty of texture and gradient for its sprawling XC trails that make it feel like you’re actually riding somewhere, and not just in a series of squiggly loops. Even if it does require some local knowledge, these trails (and the bakery), already make Creswick a great place to visit. And thanks to the impending arrival of the new network, we expect this is going to be a very popular riding destination in years to come.

mt franklin goldfields track dry diggings daylesford castlemaine
Mt Franklin watches over riders as they make their way north along the Goldfields Track.

Daylesford to Castlemaine on the Goldfields Track

While most of our Goldfields adventure was focussed on visiting the towns and riding destinations along the way, there was no way that we were going to miss out on this part of the journey. That’s because out of the three days that it takes most people to ride the Goldfields Track, it’s the middle day that offers the best mountain biking experience.

Starting in Daylesford and ending in Castlemaine, this 61km route is known as the ‘Dry Diggings Track’. Depending on your fitness and how much you stop along the way, it’ll take you 3-5 hours to finish.

The Dry Diggings Track is made up of a combination of singletrack, double track and dirt roads, which is ideally tackled on a proper mountain bike. I’ve seen people attempt it on gravel and touring bikes, and they’ve not had the most enjoyable experience. You’ll definitely want to bring some food, spares and a hydration pack with plenty of water.

goldfields track dry diggings daylesford castlemaine
The singletrack that runs from Daylesford to Castlemaine is properly good. This ain’t no featureless rail trail!
goldfields track dry diggings daylesford castlemaine
The variety of different environments you get to ride through along the Goldfields Track makes it a special experience.

What I love about the Dry Diggings Track is the diverse range of scenery and environments that it takes you through. You start amongst the lush and green temperate forests on top of the Dividing Range around Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, where you’ll spot natural mineral springs along the way. These two tourist towns are also home to some fantastic eateries, distilleries and breweries, and the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is well worth a visit for resting your weary bones after a hard day’s mountain biking.

Further along the Goldfields Track you’ll come across the Chocolate Mill, which presents a perfectly-timed opportunity to replenish calorie stores with almost every form of chocolate you can dream of. From there the terrain mellows out into open plains, with the only disruption being the prominent Mt Franklin; a 470,000 year-old extinct volcano that sticks out of the landscape like a dark green pimple thanks to its densely-packed conifer trees.

goldfields track dry diggings daylesford castlemaine
A full suspension bike fitted with tough tyres is an ideal option for tackling the Goldfields Track.

The scenery becomes decidedly drier and rockier the further north you head towards Castlemaine. This sets the scene for some of the best singletrack of the entire Goldfields Track, almost as if those miner’s from 150 years ago had mountain bikers in mind when they forged their route. Seriously, the natural flow you can find along here rivals many of the modern trails out there.

It’s not long before you then come across Vaughan Springs. An idyllic spot for a picnic, there’s also a great swimming hole and a campground if you’re doing the multi-day thing. We use it as a rest stop before tackling the final leg of our journey.

As you climb out of Vaughan Springs, the landscape changes again, and it’s not long before you can spot more evidence of mining activity. The lumpy terrain is dotted with Box Eucalypts, and you’ll see the remnants of old sleuthing sites, villages and the enormous foundations of the Garfield water wheel. Finally, you descend steadily down into Castlemaine along the old Poverty Gully water race, which makes for a welcome finish to a long day’s ride.

castlemaine goldfields track mountain bike
Not far from Castlemaine you’ll come across the enormous foundations of the Garfield Water Wheel. The original water wheel was 22 metres in diameter and was used back in the late 1800s.

Castlemaine – Rocky Riders on tour

After riding from Daylesford along the Goldfields Track the day before, we decided to catch up with some locals in Castlemaine to explore some riding closer to town. And gosh, is there plenty of it!

If you’ve not familiar with it, Castlemaine was one of the hotbeds during the 1800s gold rush, and it’s evolved to become a must-visit town in the Goldfields region. Located 90 minutes drive north of Melbourne, this town is full of historic buildings, beautiful old pubs, art galleries and second hand stores brimming with gold of a different kind.

castlemaine goldfields track mountain bike
The vibes were so good on the Rocky Riders social ride, which took us along some of the best trails around Castlemaine.
castlemaine goldfields track mountain bike
Trev, one of the Flow test crew, sending it down an A-line section in The Pineys.

There’s also a rich mountain biking scene here, with the local Rocky Riders club playing host to a smorgasbord of events throughout the year. In addition to racing and youth development, the club also has one of the largest women’s social rides we’ve come across.

Following some delectable pastries at Johnny Bakers, we met up with the Rocky Riders to join them on their monthly Sunday social ride. Starting outside the art deco-era Theatre Royal, we set off with a 30-strong group of riders. Our guides took us on a tour of the local trails that incorporated sections of the Goldfields Track, some fast and flowy singletrack through the Walmer State Forest (aka, the ‘Baco Trails’), before finishing on the steep and technical terrain of ‘The Pineys’.

castlemaine goldfields track mountain bike
Jack the Ripper sending a booter amongst the pines.

Like a lot of these regional towns, there’s plenty of sanctioned and unsanctioned trails around Castlemaine. The Rocky Riders are continuing to advocate for the local mountain biking community to help formalise some of the current trail network, while hopefully building new trail in the future too. Given the growth of the club and the opportunities to attract mountain bike tourists to the region, this will be another area to watch for the future.

harcourt goldfields la larr ba gauwa
Jono and Wil getting their froth on before hitting the trails at the La Larr Ba Gauwa MTB Park.

Harcourt – La Larr Ba Gauwa MTB Park

Barely a 10-minute drive up the road from Castlemaine is the La Larr Ba Gauwa Park, also known as the Harcourt MTB Park. Easily the most popular riding destination within the Goldfields region, La Larr Ba Gauwa is built into the foothills of Mt Alexander amongst the sprawling apple orchards of North Harcourt.

Here you’ll find a network of 34km of purpose-built singletrack that is comprised of green, blue and black diamond trails that are all signed. The trails weave their way around the mountainside before meeting up at the scenic Oak Forest at the bottom, which is a popular camping spot for families and riders.

harcourt goldfields la larr ba gauwa
Most of the trails at La Larr Ba Gauwa feature bonus A-line hits for riders looking to rack up the air miles.
harcourt goldfields la larr ba gauwa
You like rocks? Big granite boulders? Good news, because Harcourt is FULL of them!

While there is plenty of smooth flow trail to be found, granite boulders and huge rock slabs features heavily across the park. It makes the riding pretty technical, and it also means that this is one of the few trail networks where you get properly challenging singletrack climbs. As such, it plays host to some of the toughest XC events in Victoria.

Enduro-style races are also held here, with the more advanced trails featuring numerous A-line options. Riders who like to get airborne, like Jono and Big Jack, will have a field day on trails like Girra (Track 2) and Mir (Track 8). If you’re looking to maximise your elevation our recommendation is to ride Milakuk (Track 11) into Gart-Gart (Track 7) and then Barramul (Track 6) for a fast-paced descent that’ll bring you back to the main trailhead.

harcourt goldfields la larr ba gauwa
Packing a beer in the riding pack to enjoy at one of the many lookout spots around the park is THE move.

You’ll have likely recognised this spot in some of Flow’s bike reviews, as it’s an area that we visit frequently for both testing and shooting. This is partly because La Larr Ba Gauwa is a great year-round riding destination, with the granitic soil generally holding up well to wet weather. Unfortunately the area was battered by flooding not long after we shot this feature though, which caused damage to some of the access roads and certain sections of the trail network. As such, it’ll be a good idea to check in with the La Larr Ba Gauwa website for updates on trail conditions.

bendigo goldfields track
Well known for its gold rush history and architecture, Bendigo is also home to a huge community of mountain bikers and cyclists.

Bendigo – The end of the Goldfields

Lying at the most northern end of the Goldfields Track is the regional centre of Bendigo. The setting for the final day of our Goldfields road trip, Bendigo is located two hours drive north of Melbourne.

Like Castlemaine, Bendigo is chock-full of historic and ostentatious buildings that proudly display the incredible wealth that would have existed 150 years ago.

You’ll also find a huge community of cyclists in Bendigo, which is well known for its high calibre of road and track racers, as well as national-level XC mountain bikers. As such, there’s a diverse range of riding on offer. You can explore town via its off-road bike path network, and there’s the excellent O’Keefe rail trail that stretches 50km to the nearby wine region of Heathcote.

bendigo goldfields track
The gang on a post-work ride on the trails around Spring Gully.
bendigo goldfields track
The dry and rocky conditions make for great year-round riding, and are arguably even better during winter.

With Bendigo being surrounded by forests, there are trails literally all around town. There’s also a plethora of dirt roads and campgrounds in the bush, making it a great spot for gravel riding and bikepackers.

As is common within the region, the majority of singletrack trails are unsanctioned. However, as mountain biking continues to explode in popularity following the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been a growing recognition of the need for properly signed and professionally-built singletrack. The local Bendigo MTB Club engaged World Trail to develop the Spring Gully Mountain Bike Trail Network, which would encompass 14 different trails totalling over 50km in length.

The new trails would build off of the existing network, with the Spring Gully trailhead forming the starting point. A 15-minute bike ride from town, the Spring Gully trailhead is already home to a family-friendly walking and riding loop, a skills area, a pump track and a small jumps line. It’s also where you’ll head off along the Green Loop; a 4.5km trail that has been built and maintained by the Bendigo MTB Club. The club uses this loop to host its Tuesday night summer dirt crits, which regularly attract over 200 riders. There are weekend social rides, women’s rides, and a youth development squad for coaching the next generation of hitters.

bendigo goldfields track
The Spring Gully trailhead is just a 15-minute ride from town, making it easily accessible for both tourists and locals.

While we were in Bendigo, I met up with Jo Wall of Trailhead Coaching, who teaches both new and experienced riders on the trails around Spring Gully. Her business has grown dramatically over the last year, with young kids and women being her most common students, highlighting just how popular mountain biking has gotten in this region.

Following a rip around the Green Loop with some of the local riding crew, we zipped along the creek trail back into town to finish up with a beer at Handle Bar – a terrific little beer garden in town that has a generous range of craft ales and plenty of great live music. A fitting end to our six-day journey through the Goldfields.

Planning your own Goldfields adventure

With the variety of riding destinations on offer, there’s an endless number of ways to plan a trip to this region. You could stick to the Goldfields Track, or you could visit any of the single destinations for a long weekend away. Alternatively, spend a whole week exploring all the different flavours, both literally and metaphorically, that this region has to offer.

bendigo goldfields track mountain bike
You can pick sections of the Goldfields Track to do at a time, or you can do the whole thing from Ballarat to Bendigo in three days.

Goldfields Track

For fitter and more adventurous riders, doing the entire Goldfields Track is an experience you need to tick off. We’d recommend doing it on a proper mountain bike, preferably with suspension. And unless you’re a masochist, three days will give you enough time to complete the journey while still allowing for plenty of time to stop and enjoy the sights along the way.

Both Ballarat and Bendigo are accessible to Melbourne via the V-Line, making it possible to embark on a round trip without having to touch the car. There are free campsites along the way if you’re bikepacking it, but there’s also tonnes of accommodation options for more of a flash-packing experience. Head to the Goldfields Track website for all the info.

ballarat black hill mtb park
We had a blast sessioning the trails at the Black Hill MTB Park. Get in touch with Club Mud if you’re interested in shuttles or the King of Ballarat DH race series.


Just over an hour’s train ride from Melbourne, there’s a good amount of riding to be had in Ballarat. For XC riding hit up the Woowookarung Regional Park, and for gravity riding check out the Black Hill MTB Park.

sailors falls
In addition to gravel riding and mountain biking, there’s loads of walks that you can do in and around the Goldfields region.


Creswick is an idyllic tourist destination just 20 minutes up the road from Ballarat. Surrounded by dense bush, Creswick is a great spot for scenic gravel riding, bushwalking and backcountry trail riding. It’s also soon to be the home to a brand new, purpose-built trail network.

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If you’re after a little more luxury and relaxation, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs should be on your list.

Daylesford & Hepburn Springs

If you like a bit of relaxation and recuperation in your holiday, then Daylesford and Hepburn Springs need to be on your list. These towns are packed with great eateries and day spas, with loads of quaint cottages and B&B accommodation.

castlemaine goldfields track mountain bike
There’s a great range of riding on offer around Castlemaine, and plenty of events put on by the Rocky Riders club.


The ex-gold mining town of Castlemaine is a haven for artists, musicians and small businesses that are focussed on producing local wares. The riding here is diverse, making it a great spot to base yourself while exploring the wider region.

harcourt mountain bike park la larr ba gauwa goldfields victoria
e-MTBs are popular at Harcourt, allowing you to experience more of the park or to just session your favourite descent over and over again.


Harcourt is famous for its apple orchards and cideries, though more recently it’s become a mountain biking hotspot thanks to the La Larr Ba Gauwa MTB Park. As well as riding the purpose-built singletrack, you can camp in the picturesque Oak Forest too.

bendigo goldfields track
The Bendigo MTB Club regularly gets more than 200 riders at its Tuesday night summer dirt crits, half of which are kids under 18. That’s bonkers for a mid-week event run by volunteers!


The large regional town of Bendigo forms the end of the Goldfields, and is well known for its famous art gallery and gold rush era architecture. There’s lots to see and do for families visiting for a weekend away, with plenty of off-road cycling on the outskirts of town.

harcourt goldfields la larr ba gauwa
Mountain biking is already popular in the Goldfields region, and it’s set to get even better as more new trail networks open up. We’re excited for the future!

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