The Goldfields Track (GT) commemorates and celebrates Victoria’s 19th century Gold Rush, a mass migration of fortune seekers from around the world that increased the young colony’s population eight-fold to roughly half a million in just ten years.
A shared mountain bike-walking trail, the 210km track links the historic cities of Ballarat and Bendigo, powerhouses of alluvial and deep reef mining respectively, passing through smaller towns, farmland and long-abandoned diggings along the way.
The men (and women) in whose footsteps the GT follows had sketchy maps, at best, basic provisions, and often slept rough. Modern-day track walkers have a guidebook and a choice of campsites or regional B&Bs, some of which wine-and-dine you and return you to the track next morning.
An entertaining 14.5km one-way day walk takes you from Castlemaine to the Old Calder Highway, via Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, where you’ll come upon the impressive stone foundations of the long-gone 21.5m Garfield Waterwheel. This monster powered a quartz crusher for 16 noisy years and could be seen for kilometres.