posted on 05 Jun 20 | by

We've been cooped up at home for months now and it's time to venture out for an airing and reconnect with nature. Whether your idea of exercise is a take-away coffee with a scenic stroll, mountain biking over rocky outcrops, walking where miners once ruled the roost, bird watching, photography or packing a lunch and going bush for a decent day hike - you can choose your own adventure from our list of curated outdoor experiences. They are all guaranteed to give you a much needed dose of fresh country air and a feeling of exuberance. 

 

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1. Coffee with a scenic stroll

Nothing too strenuous here, just a lovely short walk through a scenic locale. Grab a take away coffee and get to it!  Visit or call our Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre for up-to-date information and maps on all walks. 

In Castlemaine you have the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens for a gentle 1.7km circuit walk that takes in the ornamental lake, exotic trees and water features. More details hereKalimna Circuit is a formed track through Heathy Dry Forest where you'll find mixed eucalypts and a shrubby understorey, grasses and herbs. For coffee options check our cafes here

20 minutes from Castlemaine you'll find Taradale. Pick up your coffee from Taradale Wine & Produce and head off for a short walk to the viaduct, the royal oaks walk or King Billy circuit. There is also a pleasant township walk. More information here.  Newstead is another town close by. Grab a coffee from Blackbird Cafe or Dig on the Main Street, then wander south under the bridge and along the Loddon, soaking in the wonder of the giant river red gums and birdlife. Or head to Maldon and grab a coffee from one of the many cafes on the Main Street and head off for a self guided town walk to discover the heritage buildings of one of Victoria's best preserved gold mining towns. In Chewton, grab a coffee from the General Store and take the Post Office Hill Walk to explore the remnant gold rush landscape.  

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2. Rocky riding

Mountain biking is amazing in this neck of the woods! For the ultimate mountain bike experience head to the purpose built La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park for 34km of rocky tracks, natural granite features and some of the most stunning views that Mount Alexander has to offer. Visit Henry of Harcourt for cider tastings post ride and be sure to get a good feed at Goldfields Track Cafe or Harcourt Produce Store pre ride. 

If you've already conquered this trail, give the Goldfields Track a go. 210km of shared bushwalking/mountain biking tracks through central Victoria's hidden treasures from deep gorges and fern-lined rivers, to the artefacts and cultural heritage of the greatest gold rush the world has ever seen. Speak to Paula and Andy at Tread Harcourt for accommodation, transfers and track info. 

The Castlemaine to Maldon Trail is 17.7km each way through bush, farmland and historic sites. The Victorian Goldfields Railway is not currently operating so you'll need to ride back, instead of getting the train! 

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3. Day hike with a gourmet picnic lunch

Nothing beats going bush for a day of hiking - except that is, if you can enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch on the way! Collect a picnic hamper from Fryers Tea House, or grab a take away lunch from our eateries, call into the Castlemaine Visitor information Centre for a map and hit the trails with your bag full of goodies. 

Our recommended day walks are from the book Victoria's Goldfield Walks by Glenn Tempest. Pick up a copy from the Visitor Information Centre. 

Expedition Pass Reservoir (11.2km) a circuit walk that is easy/moderate and starts/ends in Chewton. Meander along quiet forest tracks, taking in abandoned mining relics including the Garfield water wheel and Welsh Village before arriving at Expedition Pass. You'll find plenty of places to enjoy a picnic along the water's edge before winding your way back to Chewton.

Golden Gullies (15.2km) This a moderate/difficult walk that starts and ends at Vaughan Springs. Traverse open woodlands, cross the Loddon river with its majestic red gum, manna gum and candle bark trees, pass many historic mine sites and ruined cottages. There is a gorgeous end to this walk as you follow the lush trail along the water. 

There are plenty more hikes, speak to our Visitor Centre team for more ideas. 

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4. History and heritage walks for the whole family

The Goldfields story encompasses the heartbreak and heroics of the miners that have left a permanent mark on this area. You can see the quaint buildings built from gold rush wealth, run your fingers over the remains of stone cottages and machinery that now sit silently amidst the forest regrowth, read the names of miners and their families engraved into tombstones and listen to audio tours by local historians that bring it all to life.  Here's a selection of what you can unearth, including the self-guided audio tours.

For further maps, books and info to help you navigate the best sites, please speak to our Visitor Information Centre staff. 

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5. Spot our wildlife wonders

According to Birdlife Australia, there are over 200 species of birds recorded in the Mt Alexander region and one of the best places for birding is the Rise and Shine Nature Conservation Reserve located between Daylesford and Newstead. Here you can also find reptiles, frogs and yellow-footed antechinus. The Red, White and Blue Recreaton Site in Muckleford has mining history as well as superb flora and fauna.  By day, enjoy the sights and sounds of wallabies, kangaroos and numerous bird species and by night you might spot owls, gliders, possums and bats. This areas is an important habitat for threatened species such as the powerful owl, swift parrot and brush-tailed phascogale. In Spring, it's also alive with orchids. 

For more information on these walks and to pick up a map - visit the Visitor Information Centre

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6. Play until the sun goes down

You could spend an entire day exploring the fun playgrounds across Castlemaine, Maldon and Surrounds - at Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve you'll find a flying fox, half hoop climber, bead climber, slide and shop front. At the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens you'll find multiple play structures set in the midst of the beautiful garden. The newest facility is at the Castlemaine Victory Park playground which boasts rock climbing boulders, a babel drum, a ping pong table, a basket swing and a wheelchair-accessible carouse. Or head to Vaughan Springs for the ultimate slide experience! For more information click here

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7. Views that are worth the huff and puff!

If you like to reach great heights in life and enjoy exercise that leads to a view, then you'll take pleasure in these pursuits:

Maldon and Mount Tarrengower walk: You've probably seen the Mt Tarrengower lookout tower which was constructed using the poppet head from Bendigo's Comet Mine. You can actually walk there from Maldon township for a scenic 8.5km return trip. 

Rock of Ages:  take a twilight walk along a rocky outcrop to reach the top of Mount Moorul in the Nuggety's for sweeping views of Maldon and beyond. Pull up a pew on a gigantic boulder and watch the golden colours as the sun sets.  

Mount Alexander: Rising 350m within the 1,400ha of Mount Alexander Regional Park there are a number of magnificent lookouts including Lang's Lookout, Dog Rocks and Shepherd's Flat that offer spectacular views over the surrounding landscape. 

For more information on all walks and more, click here.

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8. Climbing @ the Mount

Mount Alexander is not only a great place to hike, bike and camp but with the abundance of granite boulders up to 30 m high, it's an ideal place to enjoy a climb. The climbing is mainly bolted friction slab but also includes many trad layback or jam cracks, chimneys and arêtes. Check this page for more details or chat with the Visitor Information Centre for directions and maps. 

 

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9. Dog friendly walks

If you're travelling with your pooch you'll have no worries finding plenty of dog friendly walks. We have a dedicated off-lead dog park plus a selection of scenic walks where they'll need to remain on a lead but will still enjoy a good sniff around. Check out more information here

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Castlemaine self-guided bike tour

Hire a mountain bike from the bike stores in town or from the Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre and head off for some self exploration. You could ride the Campbells Creek trail to explore the interesting flora and fauna and old wooden bridges, or venture to Chewton along the forest creek path, stopping at interesting sites along the way - this is a lovely loop track that takes you into the Castlemaine Diggings Heritage Park and back. Grab some take away pastries and sandwiches from one of these eateries and make a day of it!