There's gold in them thar hills. And you're about to strike it rich, dear runner. Beginning at the Hepburn Springs Recreational Oval, you'll run a golden single track seam from the north to the south, taking in a loop of Lake Daylesford for kicks. Mind the geese.
Yes, it's legal to stop at the Boathouse for a coffee. But down the picollo quick, clock's still ticking.
24km COURSE DESCRIPTOR
The half marathon distance course tracks from the north, beginning at the Hepburn Springs Recreation Oval (access via Twentieth Street, off Main Road, Hepburn Springs). We’ll run you a lap of the oval to spread tings out, before darting you off to the north, along an open grassy peninsula. Watch your footing – we drop you down a steep rocky patch and on to the Goldfields Track proper, which runs as a benched track high over Sailors Creek below. This is your navigational aid. Keeping the riverbed to your right shoulder, you will trace the river upstream, weaving and winding around rocky outcrops, and through dry box, peppermint and stringybark eucalypt forests. The running is at times sweeping and smooth underfoot and at other times more technical with rocks and roots to dance over. Be mindful when on narrow stretches, as there are some steep drop-offs.
Approximately 3.5km along, you will pass by The Blowhole, a tunnel diversion dug by miners so the river would be redirected and they could sluice for gold on the dry creek bed. We don’t run down to it, but when open (the track has been closed for a while for trail maintenance), it’s worth a visit.
On southward, the trail crosses Bald Hill Road at Bryce’s Flat picnic area at 5km.
At 8km Gold Rushers will come to Tipperary Springs, where an old (not operational) mineral spring fountain sits. This will mark the first aid station. There is also a toilet here should you need one, and this is also accessible by car for spectators.
Not long past Tipperary, at the 10km mark, you will reach Twin Bridges. Here you will come out into a car park; follow it towards the main road until course signage directs you to go UNDER the bridge, through a concrete tunnel. You will come out again into another car park - look for the stairs leading up at the far end of the car park. Do NOT try to cross the foot bridge to the right.
Twin Bridges is where you will leave the main GoldFields Track turning east to follow the high bank (left/north) of Wombat Creek. Follow this weaving path which will spit you out at the tail end of Lake Daylesford. Follow the trail on the northern bank, which will loop you around the lake in a clockwise direction. You’ll run past the famous Lakehouse accommodation and spa (maybe you’re staying there!?), sticking to the smooth graded trail alongside the lake. Eventually you will come to a pedestrian crossing – cross with care (cars must give way). Loop around the back end of the lake returning to another pedestrian crossing further up the road. You will run on past the famous Boathouse Restaurant before crossing a weir wall bridge. Signs will direct you over a small stone bridge to your left, and on to the trail that follows the opposite side of Wombat Creek to that which you ran in on. (do not go up the stairs opposite the small stone bridge – turn right straight after the bridge and follow the creek).
The trail will lead you back to the high side over the Twin Bridges car park. There will be another small aid station here before you hook to the left following the Goldfield Track/ Three Lost Children walking track signs.
You will pop out near a house and a small dirt road leading you up to Old Ballarat Road. Stay to your right and, mindful of cars, run down (to your right) the road about 100 or so metres. Looking for the GoldFields Track signpost on your left across the road. When you see it, cross with care and pick the trail up again.
You will be on a fire road/ 4WD access track called Wallaby Track soon enough, following it south. Follow the Goldfields Track signs and you will pick up Black Jack Track briefly before veering to the east to continue on the Wallaby / Goldfields Track. There are a few dirt roads in this area so keep an eye out for event signs and Goldfields Track signs.
Eventually you will come to a junction where we will have an aid station (20km) and you will again hop on to singletrack for a loop down to the impressive Sailors Falls. Nearly there. On the far side of the falls, look for the trail and signage directing you to veer off to the left. A short climb along 'double track' will have you sweeping further around left onto Old Tom Track which eventually hits Telegraph Road. Yep a bit of bitumen (sorry). Turn left and enjoy the downhill back to the front of Sailors Falls Estate. Look for the run course entrance to your left through a gate and a front paddock (entered well before you get to the main Sailors Falls Estate gateway). A little trot down across the paddock and on to a final gravel path past the machinery shed and to the finish!
A map of the Hepburn Springs Regional Park, which hosts most of the run can be downloaded HERE.