Walking enthusiasts seeking to explore Victoria’s gold mining history will have a new option for doing so in 2017.
A network of tracks has developed over the past few decades into a popular walk or cycle route between Buningyong and Bendigo, with visitors able to choose their specific route and accommodation along the way.
The volunteer-run Goldfields Track Victoria has, until recently, been the main operation promoting and supporting a dedicated point-to-point route (which was originally dubbed The Great Dividing Trail), providing information regarding accommodation, maps and more.
Now, a company named Long Distance Walks Australia will see the creation of a new version of this iconic trail, which it is calling The Great Gold Walk.
Chief executive of Long Distance Walks Australia, Jeff Floyd has not only walked extensively in Australia, the UK and Japan, he also happens to be the former CEO of Parks Victoria and Tourism Victoria.
Speaking with Wild, Floyd described The Great Gold Walk as an experience designed to compare with European and US walking tours that include ‘walk-to’ accommodation options and luggage transfers.
“In 2013, I resolved to build a walk to rival the great walks in the UK, Europe and the US. Out of this passion, ‘The Great Gold Walk’ was born, which takes walkers from goldfields town to goldfields town, mainly along the state of Victoria’s Great Dividing Range, through some great and varied landscapes and heritage sites,” Floyd said.
“Over the last 20 years, government agencies and many volunteers have built a continuous trail along this range. What was needed was an attractive route linking the gold-era towns, a quality guidebook suitable for the average walker, and an accommodation booking service.”
Spending two years walking the existing tracks enabled Floyd to develop a route that deviates in a few places from the traditional Goldfields Track, including a loop around the township of Maldon on the way from Castlemaine to Bendigo.
For visitors, the experience comes at a minimum cost of $700 for the solo walker of $1,100 for a pair, which, according to the website, covers ‘trip planning, accommodation booking and a high-quality printed guide’. However, to raise additional interest in its inaugural year, Floyd has pledged to refund half of the fee after completion of the walk in return for a user review on the TripAdvisor website.
Regular Wild readers should note The Goldfields Track is not strictly a wilderness walk, as it meanders through what a patchwork of agricultural land State Park and State Forest, and therefore may not appeal to all bushwalkers.
The paid accommodation options likely also wouldn’t appeal to many experienced bushwalkers, but that’s not the walker Floyd plans to attract.
“The global walk tourism is a huge opportunity and it’s this market I’m hoping to attract,” he said. “Interestingly, this particular route is one of a few of this length in Australia that has walk-to accommodation options.”