Goldfields Track: Mt Franklin to Vaughan Mineral Springs 16.6km

Today, I walked the Goldfields Track from the “shadow” of Mount Franklin to Vaughan Mineral Springs. I joined YHA Bushwalking Club in one of their regular Saturday outings. A small group, I think 15 hikers.

Our group met at Vaughan Mineral Springs for carpool organisation since the hike is “one way”. Here we are, waiting for everybody to arrive.

Parking at Vaughan Mineral Springs – the meeting place

A nearby signboard provided Goldfields Track information.

You are here

We left some cars behind at Vaughan Mineral Springs and traveled 30km southwest. Off Sawpit Gully Road where there was space to park cars.

Start of the hike

I mentioned Mount Franklin, the mountain of bottled water fame, which soon came into view. Behind this cute, curious and peckish horse, who approached us at once.

Craig, the Fearless Leader, another hiker, the horse with Mount Franklin in the background

The friendly horse was most comfortable with humans. But somewhat disappointed that he didn’t get fed anything.

The friendly horse

The Great Dividing Trail network comprises of 300km of tracks within central Victoria. As a subset thereof, the Goldfields Track runs 210km from Bendigo to Buninyong. Hence, both trail names appear on markers.

The Goldfields Track itself provides some 280km of total walking trails.

Bright and yellow markers aplenty

During the day, we encountered several groups of mountain bikers. Referring the initial signboard and online sources, yes, mountain biking is indeed allowed on the track. In fact, further trails for mountain bikers are being developed. Fair enough.

Cool and overcast weather without rain or wind provided excellent hiking conditions. Those conditions are my absolute preferred hiking environment. Some occasional sweeping views but mostly hiking through the woods. Lovely as it was.

Still… no rain

A couple of team photos… Straight forward hiking, on country roads, fire trails, and well-marked tracks. Few hills, mostly flattish.

YHA Bushwalking Club members (1 of 2)

Plenty of rain in Victoria lately, with obvious revealing signs…

YHA Bushwalking Club members (2 of 2)

Sometimes, the Goldfields Trail followed fence lines, like below. This fence didn’t look all that well maintained…

Fences

The Goldfields Trail then went bush. A narrower but still “easy to follow” trail. The wattles are blooming, casting a lightness to the overcast day…

Go bush

Nothing wrong with the trail markers. Those yellow posts appeared at almost any junction or intersecting trail. And when a fire trail or road crossed the walking track, the name of that “road” was spelled out.

Signposts

A gold field’s track would not be complete without remnants of old mining activity…

Holes in the ground, some shallow, some deep. Mind you, I saw an uncovered hole, close to the trail, a lot deeper than the one below. No pic of that one, I kept my distance…

Old mine diggings

And of course, ruins of old buildings. Somebody’s temporary home once?

Ruins from golden times

Sometimes, perhaps, the old “mine” had been filled with water. Or maybe just a billabong…? Hard to tell.

Water filled mine (?)

From a distance, I read the below sign as “Weak Track”, thinking “What the…?”. Closer up, reading the sign correctly, caused me to giggle. Of course, who wants to walk a “Weak Track”?

We(w)ak Track

We also crossed “Helge Trail” which I forgot to photograph. “Helge” is a Swedish male name, old fashioned, common some two generations before mine. Still, I wondered about its background here among the goldfields. An old Swedish gold-miner tried his luck there…? Or something totally different…

The wattle tree below impressed. Imposing among all the gum trees.

What a wattle…

Approaching Vaughan Mineral Springs, the landscape opened up…

…and water appeared. Not a river, a narrow creek with its water dammed up. The dam wall is visible from upstream in the photo below.

Approaching Vaughan Mineral Springs from the south

Hike completed as we arrived back at Vaughan Mineral Springs. Help yourself to the “healthy” mineral spring water through the pump while cooling down. Several of us did…

Pumping out mineral spring water

Removing any doubts that you may have of the mineral water’s health benefits, this adjacent sign clarified. It all sounded like snake oil sales spiels from out western movies to me.

All the mineral spring water’s health benefits

OK, given all those health benefits, one had to sample the water of all waters. Sure, plenty of minerals, but the taste… is definitely acquired.

Not exactly mineral water from the shops…
This 16.6km “medium” difficulty hike may be conservative as I would rate it “easy to medium”. Most pleasant walking, but definitely not hard going. 
 
These old trails through past gold fields always interest me. As the historical remnants break up the hike. Your mind wanders back to those days, what life would have been there and then. Definitely recommended as a day hike.
 
However, you need multiple vehicles. Unless, of course, you return the same way and make it a 32km hiking day…

Footnote:

Leaving Vaughan Mineral Springs for the return drive to Melbourne town, I got lost. No phone reception and hence no Google Maps access when leaving. But hey, I arrived here without problems so I can return the same way.

Well, wrong!

The hilly landscape is confusing if you haven’t been here before. Roads weaving back and forth. Driving in a wide circle, I somehow returned to the shadow of Mount Franklin. What the…?

Phone reception and Google Maps now worked, but the latter directed me through narrow unsealed roads. Including suggestion of driving through a water filled causeway.

Sure, the large 4WDs crossed the causeway without issues. My little Toyota Yaris, no, I will not attempt that. I visualised those catastrophic TV ads for insurance companies, being swept away by the water torrent. None of that…

So reverse… I had to drive to Daylesford which I know before I could safely return to the big smoke. More than an hour lost, but hey, some extra adventure…

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