Harng Goh wrote:Went map shopping and ended up chatting to a bearded guy who wasn't Santa, homeless, or a sandals-and-long-socks-wearing tourer. The Goldfields track is looking appealing.
That's a no-brainer recommendation from me.
As advised on another thread, I wouldn't recommend trying to get from Ballarat to ~Daylesford in a single day. There's some serious riding in there. If you're able to spend two nights out, then you'd have a less epic trip.
Ballarat to somewhere near Dean on day 1, then on to Hepburn / Mt Franklin day 2, then in to Castlemaine on day 3.
If you only have the 2 days, then the out-and-back at either end would be better, IMO, than trying to ride the entire distance.
From Ballarat to Creswick is only about 25km (by GDT), but some of that is pretty gnarly MTB trail so it's not going to be fast. Just as you get to Creswick you'll reach St Georges Lake, which is a lovely swimming lake. There's pubs and motels and caravan parks to be stayed at in Creswick, or you might be able to find a bush camp somewhere close to town. I know there's camping permitted at Slaty Creek, but that's only about halfway there.
There's plenty of good MTBing to be had off the GDT in that area too - I can recommend some GPS traces if you like. Could probably even have my arm twisted to come and point some out in person. There's also plenty of dirt roads if the singletrack gets a bit hard on a loaded bike (we did a CXer ride to Creswick and back via logging roads a few months back).
At the other end... the Dry Diggings Track between Castlemaine and Mt Franklin is a gem. But there's no lake at Mt Franklin... just a long descent to Hepburn Springs if you want to do that, or a bit of a road slog in to Daylesford. Mt Franklin is a campground, or of course, Daylesford/Hepburn has no shortage of accommodation options.