The Goldfields Track (GT) commemorates and celebrates Victoria’s 19th century Gold Rush, a mass migration of people from around the world that increased the young colony’s population eight-fold in ten years to just over half a million. 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. And along the way it passes through smaller towns, farmland and long-abandoned diggings. Treading it gives you a taste of the gilded side of bushwalking Victoria.
The men (and women) in whose footsteps the GT follows had sketchy maps, at best, basic provisions, and often slept rough. As a modern-day track walker you’ll have a guidebook and a choice of campsites or regional B&Bs. Some hosts wine-and-dine you and return you to the track next morning.
A 14.5km one-way day walk from Castlemaine to the Old Calder Highway, via Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, shows off the rich history. It takes you to 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.