Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Cycling the BennettsTrail: Bright to Wandiligong, Victoria

Distance - 11 kms round trip with an optional extra few kms along The Diggings Track
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


Cafes:


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.


Click on the following links for my reviews on other Victorian bike trails: -

34 comments:

  1. It looks like such a pretty spot I think I would rather pack a picnic and find a nice spot under the trees to spread out after cycling around the town.

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    1. We nearly always take sandwiches with us when we cycle. The only time you see a really nice cafe is when you have just eaten at a horrible one down the road - lol. That said, the Murray to Mountains Trail has some lovely cafes.

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  2. Such a beautiful spot, especially in Autumn.

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    1. I don't think we have ever been in Autumn but you're right it must be lovely too.

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  3. I'd love to go bike riding there! Our favourite place to ride our bikes is along the Wynnum foreshore south of Brisbane. Interesting point you've raised about the lack of Chinese heritage remaining in goldfield areas ...

    Visiting from #teamIBOT x

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    1. We love the foreshore south of Brisbane. One of my first ever blog posts was about that ride - http://www.thetravellinglindfields.com/2012/07/ride-wynnum-to-lota-brisbane-qld.html

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  4. Such a beautiful spot for a leisurely bike ride. I've seen that Chinese bridge in a TV show - it may have been filmed in the town. Can't remember the name of it, but I think Kerry Armstrong was in it.

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    1. I might google it and see if I can find some information on the show. Thanks.

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  5. What a beautiful spot for a bike ride and picnic! Thanks for linking up with #wednesdaywanderlust

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    1. I can highly recommend it to anyone who is down that way.

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  6. What a lovely way to spend a few hours. I have been to Bright many years ago now and remember it as being very picturesque. Love the swing bridge.

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    1. I don't think you can go much past Bright in spring for prettiness.

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  7. Wow...this looks amazing and the country side is just gorgeous. Will have to add it to my 'must do' list!

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    1. It is a lovely part of the world and very easy to travel in.

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  8. Wandiligong. What a cool name? Is it Chinese too, perhaps, just like the miners? I love the photo of the bridge. That trail looks like a great place to spend a day!

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    1. I don't think it is Chinese. I imagine it is an aboriginal word - it sounds like it. It is a great place to spend a day.

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  9. How pretty! An area I've never heard of before :)

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    1. This area of Victoria is a bit of a hidden gem, I think.

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  10. Thanks for the tip Lyn - we're purchasing bikes next week now that we've settled in. So looking to map out some decent bike trails to put on our list. Guess you'll just have to come back to Canberra for another look at that platypus :D!

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    1. Absolutely! I did think of contacting you while we were there but we were only in Canberra for a couple of days and had several family commitments as well as cycling and platypus spotting.

      There is an excellent book on cycle paths in Canberra which you can buy at the visitor information place on Northbourne Ave. I will e-mail you the title next week when we get back home. I do envy you Canberra's great cyclepath network.

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  11. See all of the beautiful things that I am missing out on because I can't ride a bike. Wandiligong looks glovely.

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    1. You can always walk I suppose.

      We will be travelling home past Wollongong tomorrow. I considered seeing if you were available for lunch but as usual when I get near home I just want to get there as quickly as possible. We might plan a day trip soon though. I want to see those murals you blogged about.

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  12. It's interesting to see how extended the Chinese immigration was. They went all over the world in search of a better life. I'm surprised to see they came even to Australia.

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    1. We had a large population of Chinese during the gold rushes. Today, they are arriving again but instead of the poor and destitute, the well-educated, middle classes are making Australia their home.

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  13. This looks like a lovely bike ride, the Chinese bridge is somehow so unlikely in a country town in Australia. I'd love to see it. #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. You would be surprised at how many Chinese came to Australia during the gold rushes. For me the surprise is that there isn't much more evidence of their contribution.

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  14. Thanks for taking us to some of the off-the-beaten-track places in Australia for a little #wkendtravelinspiration!

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    1. My pleasure. Next week - due for publication on Tuesday, Australian time, I am writing about cycling in the High Country. Now that is off the beaten track.

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  15. Lyn, When I finally make it back to Australia, I'm going to have to buy a bike and try out some of these amazing trails. I love these!

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    1. Haha - call in at my place and I will lend you one.

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  16. Looks like a beautiful place to bike. That reminds me that I really do need to get around to teaching my youngest to ride. Finding tandem bikes is getting difficult.

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    1. You can rent them in Bright, at the beginning of the trail but teaching your children to ride a bike is one of life's pleasures.

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  17. It had never occurred to me to bike in Australian; the distances are SO big. But these photos look great, and we recently ran a story about bike rides, too. Not it's something I want to try! thanks for joining #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. There are some areas in Australia where the towns are fairly close together and this is one of them. We have quite a few good cycling trails which have been developed in recent years.

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