Terrain - Very slightly undulating, sealed, separate path the whole way
Difficulty - Really, easy
Highlights - Exploring the old gold mining area in Wandiligong.Map and Info - Finding a map of Bennetts Trail has defeated me. I am beginning to think that such a thing does not exist. However the trail is simple to follow. Just head out of Bright along Coronation Avenue and you can't go wrong.
Wandiligong is one of those quaint little towns. The sort you arrive at and wonder why it grew up where it did. Then you learn a little of its history and the mystery is solved - 'gold'. Today, Wandiligong has a population of only 300 people, but in the 1850s thousands of miners converged on the area in search of gold. A significant number were Chinese. In many ways they were the refugees of their time; escaping poverty, violence and desperation and hoping to strike it rich in a new country. They were almost exclusively men, frequently leading lonely and isolated lives and all too often subject to suspicion and violence by European miners. The curious thing is that even though they came to Australia in great numbers they seem to have had little impact on our history outside of the goldfields. It makes you wonder what became of them.
|A few old buildings remain in Wandiligong but almost all evidence of the gold boom has gone.|
The cycle path from Bright to Wandiligong is an easy, sealed, slightly undulating path - a path to enjoy with the family. We timed our visit to coincide with the annual flower festival. The towns along this end of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail are just lovely in spring and Wandiligong is no exception.
|Crossing the river just before arriving at Wandiligong|
Once we arrived at Wandiligong, The Diggings Track leading off Centenary Avenue took us through the old gold mining area. Strictly speaking it is a walking track but we found it easy enough to negotiate with mountain bikes. It is only a few kilometres long and winds across an historic bridge, past picnic areas and finally to the 'Chinese Swing Bridge'. The bridge was built in 2003 to commemorate the contribution of the Chinese gold miners. Storyboards give first hand accounts of their lives (and sometimes deaths) as seen through the eyes of their European neighbours.
|The Chinese Swing Bridge built in 2003.|
|This bridge at the beginning of The Diggings Track has been destroyed and re-built so many times I wonder that the town didn't give up.|
|The sign says there are platypus in the creek but as usual I didn't see any. For my post on the best place to see platypus in Australia click here - here|
Good luck finding somewhere to eat in Wandiligong. There is a a great park for a picnic near the town oval just as the path enters the town and according to the internet there is a cafe nearby at the town maze. We didn't get to the maze so I can't vouch for the cafe. Bright, on the other hand is full of cafes. Have lunch there and you will be spoilt for choice.