Bicycle Network: Where to Ride
- Jon Miller
Ride from Malmsbury to Ballarat, staying overnight at the spa town of Hepburn Springs.
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It’s almost worth doing this ride just for the chance to visit the excellent Malmsbury Bakery. Although it doesn’t have the range of goods it once did, the quality is still very high. It’s also a magnificent ride through the bush and farmlands of the area. It’s fairly short for a weekend ride at 85km with the first day being only 35km but that gives you plenty of time to explore the attractions of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.
Sights of Malmsbury
The Malmsbury VLine station is situated on the road to Daylesford so it’s possible to start your tour by turning left without going into Malmsbury at all. However, most people will want to turn right from the station and head a kilometre or so down the highway to see this historic town. Even if bakeries aren’t your thing, it’s worth visiting Malmsbury for the old bluestone architecture, the Tin Shed Art Gallery or the botanic gardens from where you can admire the magnificent railway viaduct.
When you’re ready to leave, head back up the highway towards the station and take the road to Daylesford. It’s a slightly undulating though quite easy ride mainly through farmland. In the spring time there is a green and gold patchwork of grazing country, wheat and canola fields. You pass through a few small towns before arriving in Daylesford but the only one of any interest is Glenlyon. This has a general store with the usual supplies. It has a small café attached and the couple running it make their own cakes, muffins and bread. You probably won’t need to carry lunch on the first day as the ride is so short, but if you want to stop somewhere, Glenlyon is the place.
Stopping at Hepburn Springs
There is much to do in Daylesford and most people will want to spend some time looking around the town before heading north to Hepburn Springs. There is a YHA hostel at Hepburn Springs which is a good place to stay for the night. There are a lot of walking tracks and the famous springs themselves to explore once you arrive.
You will need to carry lunch with you on the second day as there is nowhere to buy anything between Daylesford and Ballarat. Leave Hepburn Springs and ride back down towards Daylesford. There is a Sunday market on from 9am which generally attracts a lot of visitors.
Wombat State Forest
When ready to leave Daylesford, follow the signs south towards Ballan. Don‘t follow the signs to Ballarat as this would take you along the Ballarat–Daylesford Rd which has considerably more traffic than the Ballan Rd. There is a reasonable climb for most of the first six or seven kilometres from Daylesford but it isn’t very steep. You can stop off at Sailors Falls part way up where there is a picnic area and a walking track to a mineral spring.
After the top of the climb, you are rewarded by a mostly downhill run into Ballarat. You need to turn off the Ballan Rd on to Spargo Creek Rd at Spargo Creek. Be careful not to miss it as you are screaming down the hill. The Mineral Springs Hotel is on the left just before the turn.
You are now entering the Wombat State Forest. This is a tall open eucalypt forest containing over 100 different wildflower and orchid varieties. Upon leaving the forest, the road skirts Moorabool Reservoir. Navigation may look a bit tricky here but it’s not – just follow the sealed road around. You will soon come to a crossroad where you turn right on Springbank Rd towards Pootilla. At Pootilla, join the main Ballarat–Daylesford Rd for the final run into Ballarat. This road can be quite busy but there is a sealed shoulder which you can ride in.
Turn right on to Humffray St just after riding underneath the Western Fwy overpass for a quiet road into the centre of Ballarat.