Bicycle Network: Where to Ride
- Jon Miller
Ride part of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, overnight in historic Beechworth and visit Woolshed Falls in the Chiltern – Mt Pilot National Park
View Tour - Beechworth and Eldorado in a larger map
Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
Head north from Wangaratta station and you will soon see the blue signs directing you to the start of the Rail Trail in Apex Park. However, many people take some time to visit the historic buildings and galleries of Wangaratta. Or they just stop for a snack and to stock up on provisions before the ride. To reach the town centre, turn right at the roundabout on Rowan St which will take you straight there. When ready to rejoin the trail, head north-east along the main street and turn left in to Apex Park just over the Ovens River Bridge.
The surface of the rail trail is a little rough as it loops under the bridge at Apex Park but it soon improves as the trail is sealed all the way. The trail sits on top of a levee bank as it winds its way through the outskirts of Wangaratta. It then takes a few twists and turns as it travels along a combination of paths disused roads and also parallels the old Hume Hwy until it gets to Bowser. All of these turns can be confusing so pay close attention to the signs to avoid getting lost.
Once past Bowser, it’s quite straightforward to follow the rail trail all the way to Everton. You will have to detour off the trail for a couple of kilometres if you want to visit Everton as the trail doesn’t pass through the town – the station site was at Everton Junction.
Just past Everton Junction, there is a fork in the trail. The south branch continues on to Myrtleford and Bright but you want to go north towards Beechworth. It’s pretty much uphill all the way from Everton to Beechworth though, thankfully, it’s not very steep. There is quite a bit of native bush along this section of the tail where the first part is mainly farmland. This provides valuable shade to riders on a hot day.
There are a few wineries near the trail which are open for tastings including the Pennyweight Winery near Beechworth which has an entrance right on the trail.
Beechworth is an old gold town which has had many of the original buildings restored. The Historic and Cultural Precinct provides a view into life in regional Victoria at the time. There’s also the famous Beechworth Bakery which is well known for its large selection of pastries and cakes.
Beechworth is also where you spend the night. The Lake Sambell Caravan Park has cabins as well as camp sites. Otherwise, there are many B&Bs, hotels, motels and guest houses in town.
Chiltern – Mt Pilot National Park
When leaving Beechworth, head north out of town on the Wodonga Road (C315) and then turn left at the fork on the Chiltern Road (C377). Follow this to McFeeters Road on the left which leads into the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park. This is a large park containing mainly box ironbark forests. The wildflowers are gorgeous in the spring with wattles, lilies, orchids and bush peas all plentiful. Over 200 species of native birds and mammals have been sighted in the park as well.
Turn off McFeeters Rd on to Woolshed Rd and you will soon come across Woolshed Falls At the falls, there is a short work around the alluvial gold workings. At the height of the gold rush, over 8000 people were camped near this stream using its water in their mining operations. Now it’s just a pretty place to stop for a break.
The Eldorado Dredge
Continue on along Woolshed Rd as it winds its way through the National Park until you arrive at the old mining town of Eldorado, home of Cock’s Eldorado Dredge. This is still at its final resting place after it ceased operating in 1954 having recovered over 70,000 ounces of gold as well as many tons of tin concentrate. A short walk around the pond, which was made by the dredge, has several information boards telling visitors about the dredge which was one of the largest in the southern hemisphere at the time.
When you’ve finished admiring the dredge, follow the Eldorado Rd south-west out of town until it meets up with the rail trail which you then follow back to Wangaratta.