The Castlemaine to Maldon Trail is a new bike path, just recently completed in early 2017. It follows alongside the Victorian Goldfields Railway route. Historic steam trains travel this line between Castlemaine and Maldon on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The trail is not strictly speaking a rail trail, because it runs on the maintenance track and other (mostly) dirt roads beside the railway. It does not have the characteristic gradual gradients, and is quite steep in a couple of places.
We were staying at Maldon, so I met with Fe at the former site of the Beehive Gold Mine at the Maldon end of the Castlemaine to Maldon Trail. Derek took this photo of us before our ride at 8 o’clock.
The Beehive Gold Mine was opened in 1854 and mined through until 1918. Today little remains but the Beehive Mine Chimney.
This chimney, completed in 1863, is the only one of its size (30 metres) and age still standing in Victoria. It provided draught to the steam boilers that were used in this era of gold mining.
In less than a kilometre, we were at Maldon Railway Station.
Because of the regular heritage train services, the station is well kept. There was a lot to see – carriages, goods sheds, the maintenance shed where some volunteers were working, an old steam engine and roses on the platform.
After a good look around, we continued on the Castlemaine to Maldon Trail. Soon we were pedalling through the open dry forest of Maldon Historic Reserve. It was still quite early. The shadows were long and the air was chilly.
The gravel track was quite level for the first few kilometres. A milestone indicated that we had come three kilometres from Maldon and had 14 kilometres to go to Castlemaine.
Yellow and orange wildflowers were speckled throughout the understory of the forest.
After seven kilometres, as we emerged from the forest, we noted that we seemed to have been travelling downhill most of the way so far.
We were in open farmland now.
As we approached the midpoint of Muckleford, we passed this trestle bridge.
The sky was starting to clear and the surrounding farmland looked cheerful.
As arranged, Fe’s partner Jeff was waiting for us at Muckleford Station.
We shared morning tea together, although we were quickly losing warmth with the chilly wind. There were some workers on the other side of the track. No doubt they were making preparations for the Mucklefest Vintage Machinery Rally, which we would be attending in two days’ time.
I said goodbye to Fe and Jeff and continued on for another nine kilometres through lightly wooded forest. As I pedalled into Castlemaine the trail seemed to peter out. I came to this bridge, just after Langslow Street, which is the (as yet unmarked) end of the trail in Castlemaine.
I worked out later that I should have turned right here under the bridge to follow Campbells Creek Trail through to Castlemaine Railway Station. However I turned left, thinking it would be best to follow the railway line.
I realized something was amiss when the track finished abruptly at Lewis Drive. Fortunately, using Google Maps, I was able to find my way to the station.
Castlemaine Railway Station is on the main line between Melbourne and Bendigo.
I was interested to see that many commuters had parked their bicycles on the platform.
Now that I had accomplished my mission of riding to Castlemaine Railway Station, it was time to refuel. I found my way to Togs Place, nestled next to the former Imperial Hotel.
After an enjoyable lunch and coffee, I followed Campbells Creek Trail back to the Castlemaine end of the Castlemaine to Maldon Trail.
I was a little slower on the return trip and had to walk a couple of the hills at the Maldon end of the trail. Altogether I cycled 46 kilometres and climbed 453 metres.
Postscript: Fe phoned me the next day to say that the workers we had seen on the track had been prisoners. Apparently one had escaped just shortly after we had passed through by stealing a volunteer’s car!