Review: GABCY South East – Victoria and Luke

Victoria and Luke rode from Bendigo to Nagambie, about 135km, in March 2022. Their route included the O’Keefe Rail Trail, and parts of Reap the Red RidgeGolden Black TrackGhostown Gambol, and Nagambie Meander

Day 1 – Bendigo to Heathcote – 56km

We arrived in Bendigo by train at 11.20am, and it was already hot and meant to get hotter. Earlier in the week, it had promised 22-23 degrees, but now it was saying 29, and similar for tomorrow. It was going to be a tough ride…

It was easy to navigate our way through the few small turns to the start of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, and we were quickly on our way, cruising along manicured bike paths similar to Melbourne. Pretty soon we were out onto beautifully graded gravel alongside the road, and watching a lot of cyclists coming the other way who had clearly been smart enough to start early in the morning.

Signs announcing the sites of the old railway stations rolled past quickly on the easy riding gravel, and we soon arrived in Axedale, taking well sign-posted streets to the Axedale Tavern for lunch.

The tavern has a beautiful big courtyard with lots of tables under umbrellas, and live music on a Sunday afternoon. The food was good and the portions were plentiful, leaving us actually a little too full to ride comfortably in the heat of the afternoon… be warned.

Leaving Axedale, and a quick steep hill later, we were quickly in the countryside proper – alternating patches of shady gum trees and blazing hot fields of flat yellow farmland. Heads down, we powered through the heat, cheered on by screeching sulphur-crested cockatoos, and suddenly popped out beside Lake Eppalock. A beautiful, but strange sight, coated in bright green plant matter and flooding bare, reaching trees.

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To continue and read the full ride report use this link – Review: GABCY South East – Victoria and Luke

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Review: GABCY Grand Tour – Dan and crew

In March 2022, Dan and a few mates rode about 330km over 3 days in a large horseshoe-shaped tour along the outer edge of the GABCY Network. They started at Bendigo and finished at Tallarook, with a train connection at each end. This is Dan’s recount.

Day 1 – Bendigo to Echuca – 121 km

Amazing roads out of Bendigo through the forest.

Was a bit of a slog from where it opened up, until we saw the Campaspe river for the first time. 

Then onto the amazing long straight gravel roads, zig zagging our way north west.

Stopped for a very late lunch at Rochester bakery and then pushed on to Echuca.

The last 30kms along the rail lines were the worst of the day. Very corrugated, hard to find a good line.

The swim in the Murray and the cold beers were amazing.

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Click this link to view the full report – GABCY Grand Tour – Dan and crew

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Review: Yellowbelly Track – John and Greg

John and Greg rode the Yellowbelly Track over 3 days in April 2022. This is their account …

We first heard about the Yellow Belly Track during 2021 and, having just finished a ride down the Murray River from Mildura to Goolwa, were quite interested in doing a more local ride, along one of the many rivers that run into the Murray.

Earlier this year (2022), we decided that the first week of April would be a good week to try the track (not too cold yet; winds generally not a problem; out of school holidays) so we made plans.

One of the hardest things to work out was how long to take to do the ride. We were unsure of how far we would be able to travel each day, particularly on the river tracks. Thanks to the NixTrader website, we were able to look at the distances between major stops and a suggested itinerary based on the planned number of nights on the track. We thought we would probably allow for 5 days on the track, with overnight stops in the two major towns along the way, Murchison and Shepparton.

Things actually went a lot better than we had planned!

Click this link for the full report – Yellowbelly Track – John and Greg

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Review: GABCY South East – Alister and Duncan

Alister and Duncan rode 198 km around the South East corner of GABCY Network in January 2022. Their route included parts of Golden Black Track, Reap the Red Ridge, Carmel Cornella and Kirwans Rushy Whroote. They posted about their ride on Facebook and also on Relive (see latter for most pics and details of their exact route).

We seized the moment of stupidly hot weather to hit the gravel in central Victoria over three days last weekend, credit card camping with Duncan Parkinson. Train to Murchison, rode to Heathcote (which wasn’t the picturesque wine-town I was expecting from all the Shiraz I’ve had from there) via the Whroo cemetery (poor bastards). The empathy for those diggers turned inwards as we baked in high 30s riding up and down dale, running low on water to get to our first night’s accommodation. Thankfully the thunderstorms hit after we got there which then drenched what we’d left outside. We saw countless wallabies, plenty of roos and the odd Wedgetail. From Heathcote we rode to Rushworth via Colbinnabin for silo art and pub lunch. Last day to Nagambie via the ghost town of Whroo and the Balaclava mine and crossing the treacherous (for bikes) Kirwan Bridge. Duncan had more in the tank and so rode on to Seymour.

We have to thank ‘Nick’ from the GABCY Network who has pulled together amazing routes and ride planning resources to grow gravel riding in central Vic. It includes accommodation/camping options, sights to see, hazards to watch for. Of course, we ignored the advice to ride in Spring/Autumn. Amazing work. https://nixtrader.wordpress.com/…/12/16/the-gabcy-network/

You can watch an animated map of the ride here: https://www.relive.cc/view/v36AgzR4QGv

Another interesting and different report. This one shows:

  • How various legs from GABCY Network routes can be combined to make longer routes. Including using different train stations as start and finish points.
  • Impact of weather. From 30+ degree days riding through bush where carrying enough water is a major issue. Then 20 mm overnight rain means having to adjust route next day to avoid some planned earth / clay tracks.
  • Impact of seasons on landscape. The same routes that are bright primary colours in spring and autumn, become a beige-out in high summer. Streeton was more poetic about Australian summers declaring “gold and blue” as “nature’s scheme of colour in Australia”, as evidenced in Golden Summer – Eaglemont (1889)
  • Importance of getting different perspectives. I’ve been to Rushworth many times, but I don’t recall seeing any of the things in pics posted by Alister and Duncan 😂. Also seems the new cafe that had newspaper over its windows all last year has opened, so I’ll have to go and check it out!

Thanks for the plug guys, hope you had fun.

Review: Golden Black Track – Harry

Harry rode the Golden Black Track in November 2021. This is how she described it on Facebook.

First bikepacking trip on the wondercross and first time staying in bush camps alone. I was at times really aware that I’m a woman, especially with the solo camping and sometimes not knowing if the situation was safe!

I’m doing the Golden Black Track. It’s fantastic.

First day rode from Murchison to Dargile state forest and stayed just a little way off from Dargile camp ground and was completely alone. Rode 65kms. Was harder than I anticipated as the elevation was near the end of my ride. The campground had no water. Would need to bring in enough.

Second night visited my folks in heathcote so a very short ride.
Third night rode to Rushworth and then stayed at Greens campground. Free. Had a drop toilet but no water or fire wood.

Rode back to Murchison- just a short one and went home.

Really went party pace as I’ve definitely lost my riding legs during lockdown and had been sick the week before. The constant up and down was tiring but there is warning of this of Nicks website. It’s a beautiful ride.

My biggest issue is not sleeping. Just can’t seem to sleep in the tent! Will have to practice in the yard 🙂

It was definitely type 2 fun but it’s always a humbling experience. Went to plenty of bakeries in the towns and had a really good dehydrated meal from radix nutrition- would purchase again! The bird song and the quiet was just what I needed.

Saw a fox, 2 echidnas, lots of Roos and 2 rabbits.

Harry also wrote a longer, more detailed and introspective article published on Desire Lines (an excellent Australian bikepacking website) – https://desirelinescc.com.au/journal/the-golden-black-track/

Harry’s article is a good one for starter bikepackers to read to get an understanding of what is in store for them. It also confirms that when bikepacking you will get a deeper understanding and appreciation of your riding companions, even if riding alone.

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Review: Yellowbelly Track – Mags and Lisa

Mags and Lisa rode the Yellowbelly Track in May 2021.

They started in Yea on the GVRT, then travelled via Yellowbelly Track-Roads option to Echuca. Then they rode back diagonally through various small country towns to Yea.

The trip was over 500km, taking 9 days, including a full rest day in Echuca. They stayed in commercial accommodation for all 8 nights.

They documented their trip on social media. Food at wineries was such a recurring theme that they renamed their trip the FatBelly Track

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Review: Yellowbelly Track – Norm and Jess

I want to start including more reviews by riders of these routes. I always find it useful and interesting to see things through the eyes of strangers.

Norm and Jessica Douglas rode part of the Yellowbelly Track in the Victorian winter of 2021.

Jessica Douglas is a former world 24-hour MTB enduro champ. She has ridden and competed in many countries around the world. This is her blog about her recent ride on the Yellowbelly Track section from Echuca to Shepparton.

VIC WINTER TOUR – THE FINAL NIGHT ON THE GOULBURN RIVER, GEAR RUN DOWN, DAY 6 & 7

For keen preppers Jessica’s blog also includes the full list and weight of everything she packed.

Norm Douglas posted a video on Youtube with his take on this part of the journey – see below.

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Yellowbelly Track – with a Tour Group

Some people don’t have the time or inclination to plan and organise their own multi-day bikepacking expedition. I’m not being judgmental, that is just the truth.

A guided tour is an alternative option for prospective Yellowbellies who prefer to have others carry their bags and sweat over logistics.

If you are reading about the Yellowbelly Track and thinking – It would be great to do this ride but without all the hassle that goes with organising all the fine details for your own ride – then this tour could be for you.

AllTrails – Goulburn River Trails 2022

I don’t have any personal or commercial connection to this group. However, I am happy to promote them as an alternative option bringing cyclists into this area of Northern Victoria.

As always make your own inquiries and risk assessment to decide whether this is a good option for you.

Update 30 March 2022: The October 2022 tour appears to be sold out now. Wait list only.

The GABCY Network

The GABCY Network is an integrated set of backroad cycling routes in Northern Victoria.

The GABCY Network covers 5,800 square kilometres, bound by the Campaspe River on the west side, the Murray River to the north, the Goulburn River on the north and east side, and on the south side, the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and Puckapunyal Military Area.

There are more than 20 individual loop routes in the GABCY Network and the total distance is over 1,700 km, although some routes overlap occasionally.

The building blocks of the GABCY Network are 50 to 90 km loops that interconnect. The aim for each loop was to find the most scenic backroads, to avoid traffic and main roads, and to include places for food, drink and accommodation along the way. The loops include many gravel backroads, and occasionally earthen lanes, in order to avoid traffic and to add to the scenic and adventure experience of your ride.

See details about the GABCY Network routes on this page – GABCY Network

Meet the Yellowbelly Track

Introducing the Yellowbelly Track – a 200km bike route in Northern Victoria, from Echuca to Tallarook, following the Goulburn River.

Route priorities were to stay close to the river, to minimise interraction with vehicle traffic, and to use river tracks and gravel roads instead of sealed roads where possible.

Read about it on this page – Yellowbelly Track