The section of Great Dividing Trail that connects Daylesford with Hepburn Springs is GREAT for mountain unicycling – 2okm of narrow, rugged, winding forest single track passing through a wide range of vegetation and terrain, taking in Lake Daylesford, Twin Bridges, Tipperary Springs, Bryces Flat, The Blowhole, Breakneck Gorge, Golden Springs, Jacksons Lookout and Hepburn Mineral Springs.
I’ve been cherry picking bits and pieces of the Great Dividing Trail over the past year or two including Tipperary Springs, Twin Bridges, Breakneck Gorge, Mt Franklin-Castlemaine and around Blackwood. To ride the Daylesford-Hepburn section of the trail in one hit would make for a fun 1/2 day MUni ride, and to time it with the Autumn colors even sweeter.
The Great Dividing Trail (+280km in total – awseome MUni) was originally conceived as a walking trail but surveys over recent years found MTB’ers were the main users. Thanks to government funding significant trail improvements are in the works over the next ~14 months to make it more bike friendly. Fortunately however it sounds like the Daylesford-Hepburn section will remain as is – officially off limits to bikes and instead be bypassed via Doctors Gully. I guess this is partly due to it being popular with walkers on weekends touring the mineral springs, but also due to the nature of trail itself – it’s narrow over the entire length, often rocky, often with steep drops to one side – not an appropriate place to let weekend warriors or kids loose on their bikes and due to the terrain too difficult/expensive to make safe.
Mid week outside of holidays there’s not a person to be seen on the trail, the perfect time to use a day off work for a Mineral Springs MUni adventure. The plan was to time the ride with the Autumn colors and cool weather so with breakfast on board I headed to Lake Daylesford with the 24 GUni. The rest is history! 🙂
Riding around Lake Daylesford is relaxing. The trail is super wide and easy, great for a warm up (or starting a ride like today) or cool down, just the view to enjoy!
Wombat Flat mineral springs – the first of many springs on the trail.
It didn’t turn out to be the cool Autumn day as forecast, but instead the warmest Autumn spell on record. Me no like MUni in heat. 30 minutes into the ride I realized I should’ve brought a hat… DOH
The signage on the Great Dividing Trail is clear and easy to follow. Good to have some idea of where you’re headed beforehand but not really necessary to carry a map. From Lake Daylesford to Bryces Flat there are twin single tracks to pick from, one on either side of the gullies/hillsides.
Once you leave Tipperary Springs the bush starts to dry out significantly and the trail gets progressively rougher. There is also a spectacular section of roller coaster single track, a buzz on the GUni in high gear.
A feature of the Daylesford-Hepburn trail are the rock gardens, in many shapes and sizes, becoming more frequent and larger through the drier sections of the trail. LOTS between The Blowhole and Breakneck Gorge, mainly encountered uphill so tricky to roll through. A few UPD’s, a fair amount of cursing 😛
A super deep but ‘securely covered’ old mine shaft beside the trail. Tempted to head back with a head torch and explore… naughty, naughty!
A swim in a mine shaft? Luckily the sign was there to warn me against doing so…
Sugar fix at the Blowhole. Food for the ride included 4 peanut bars, 2 apples and a bag of snakes.
Thought it was just my lack of fitness but the second half of the ride seemed much tougher. Turns out ~1/4 of it is consistently uphill.
Need sugar, lots of sugar.
The cool shade heading towards Golden Spring was a welcome relief after the passing through the hot and exposed Breakneck Gorge. The section of trail from The Blowhole through to Breakneck Gorge was the toughest – I think it would be a lot more fun in the opposite direction (downhill) and/or on a cool day. I was beginning to feel cooked so spent some time lying in the shaded cold wet grass near Golden Spring. Definitely have to ride around here again while the Autumn colors are happening. A really fun and picturesque section of track.
After Golden Spring the trail heads back into dry bush, running along a massively eroded gully before turning directly up towards Jacksons Lookout.
Booyah! made it to Jacksons Lookout.
Cruised down into Hepburn Mineral Springs, ending the ride at the Hepburn bathouse.
All up this was a GREAT MUni ride. Loads of variety, challenges and goodies to explore along the way, lots of options re shortening the ride to suit the day. The 24 GUni was a good fit for this ride with the mix of terrain well suited to both gears. The only thing I’d change really is doing the ride on a cooler day, say 15-20 celcius. I”ll probably re-ride the last half but in the opposite direction i.e. downhill.
Damage for the day: just bruises, nothing busted 🙂
If you decide to ride this section of trail please be very careful. There really are a lot of steep large drops right on the edge of the narrow trail. One mistake in the wrong place and you could end up having a bad hair day and no-one wants that. Also, don’t ride the trail on weekends.