Castlemaine to Eureka Reef (Dry Diggings Track) – Great Dividing Trail

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Written by Caroline.

Hike completed Sunday 24 May 2020.

This hike covers Castlemaine to Eureka Reef – this is part of the Cry Joe section of the Dry Diggings Track, which makes up part of the Great Dividing Trail.

By the time late May rolled around, the pandemic lockdown restrictions had eased, which meant that Day Trips were allowed again! And, it had recently been my birthday, so I planned a hike for a section of the Dry Diggings Track to help finish off our 2019 Challenge of the Great Dividing Trail. It was short, only 5.5km each way, but with some optional extras.

In case you want to hike this trail yourself, it’s an 11km round trip and here’s a Google Map of the route we took.

After a bunch of car dilemmas on the way there, and a bit of a delayed start, we all met up just out of Castlemaine and started hiking (well after midday by this stage!). We immediately found ourselves in some eerie other-wordly/moon-ish landscapes.

Other-wordly landscapes

It was pretty exciting to not only be out of the city again, but also hanging out in a group of more than 2 people (as per previous pandemic restrictions), outdoors!

This excitement soon gave way to hangriness (myself a little included) due to our late start, and my insistence that our destination (Eureka Reef) and lunch spot, was ‘not too much further.’

The Eureka Reef car park provided a great spot for a physically distant lunch and surprise birthday muffins for all!

Birthday muffin! Photo by Katka.
Here’s how you take a selfie while physically distancing. Photo by Mark.
A rather unflattering photo of us all lunching happily but distantly, in our household groups. Photo by Katka.

Eureka Reef is a very interesting historic mine site. There’s a short (1.8km) heritage walk (PDF) you can take to explore and learn about 20-odd heritage sites here, but you either need to download the podcast (I couldn’t figure out how to find it) or take photos of the signage at the carpark (pictured in the background of your unflattering lunch photo) to have the descriptions of each site while you walk. I played tour guide and read out each description at each site.

Stop 1: Eureka Reef.
Stop 7: The School teacher’s and Mine Manager’s house
Stop 14: The Cyanide Tanks
Stop 8: Trolleys and tramways. Photo by Katka.
Stop 21: The Mine Shaft. Photo by Katka.

We decided to take a slightly different return route, to facilitate better socialising on a wider track. So we took the Poverty Gully Res Track for the majority of the way back, in favour of the winding single file Dry Diggings trail.

Self-timer group shot at the end of the trail. Photo by Jeff.

To make sure we really completed every metre of the whole Great Dividing Trail, a few of us walked the remaining km or so into Castlemaine to meet up with the place Mark and Lucie started walking the Leanganook Track – Castlemaine to Leanganook Picnic site. Jens, Jeff and Vanessa drove and we met them there.