The Eldorado Gold Trail is a longer ride that takes in the historic sites and stories of the mid to late 19th century gold rush, when Beechworth and particularly Eldorado were much larger towns than they are today. But this ride is much more than just a ride through history .. it’s a real taste of the excellent backroads gravel riding on offer in the Mount Pilot National Park north and west of Beechworth.
Time: 5 hours.
Gradient: Mostly flat with a couple of hills (no problem on the e-mtb!)
This ride starts at the Old Beechworth Gaol and follows the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail for a short distance before turning north through the Woolshed Valley. After a quick stop to view Woolshed Falls, the ride heads west along Woolshed Road. Be sure to stop and read the fascinating information on the blue signs along this road, to understand a little about what it was like in the 1860s in this area.
Woolshed Road travels across a picturesque ford (very Instagrammable!) before it reaches Eldorado, where you can refill water or grab snacks from the General Store, Firebox Bakery or the McEvoy Tavern, which is the smallest pub in Victoria (check opening hours before you ride). There is plenty of fascinating signage and information throughout Eldorado explaining the way things were.
After a brief detour to historic Eldorado Dredge, ride back along Woolshed Road for a short distance to Masons Road, then follow this road for around 15km, passing through three farm gates (the land is public but please close the gates behind you and watch for grazing stock). A short while later you will be back in Beechworth and ready for a beer or glass of wine to contemplate your day out.
Note: Managing your bike’s battery is important on this ride. Use too much too early and it’ll be a painful push home to Beechworth.
Ask us for a paper map of this route, or download the route above to your phone or GPS device.
If you would be more comfortable with a local guide on this backroad adventure you can request one when you book.
Points of interest
Much of Woolshed Road follows Reedy Creek, which still holds gold for the patient gold panner and regularly attracts hobby gold hunters who camp out for weeks after heavy rains, searching for their treasure with small machine sluices and dredges. On a hot day the creek can offer welcome respite, particularly at the ford crossing near Eldorado, which is a lovely place to dip the toes.
Located in the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, Woolshed Falls are a popular destination for nature lovers and history buffs.
The area was once the centre of one of the richest goldfields in Australia, where up to 8,000 prospectors camped along the banks of Spring Creek, in search of their fortune.
An observation deck provides views to falls and the valley below, which is particularly spectacular after heavy rainfalls. Please be very careful on the rocks as they are slippery and kids should not be left unsupervised in this area. Suitable, sturdy footwear is advised.
Although Eldorado’s main gold extraction was through open-cut methods, the gold discovered in the river flats wasn’t as easily accessible as gold found further up Reedy Creek.
In 1936 production of a large bucket dredge began, mining alluvial gold and tin until 1954. It was one of the largest dredges in the Southern Hemisphere – a floating monster weighing 2,142 tons and pulling the third most power from the State Electricity Grid after Melbourne and Geelong. In its 18 years of operation the dredge produced 70,664 ounces of gold and 1,383 tons of tin concentrate.
By the time the dredge was decommissioned it had dredged 30,000,000 cubic metres from the river flats of El Dorado Plain. It remains a formidable sight and graphically illustrates the extent of the mining operation in and around the town.