Waratah – Magnet Ride

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I got very excited (many months ago) when I discovered that Waratah was apparently a mountain biking mecca … and I even found what looked like the perfect route to get started on at www.discoverthetarkine.com.au … a ride out from Waratah down the Tinstone Creek Track and then after visiting the abandoned township of Magnet, back up the 8km Magnet Tram Line route.


Source: http://www.discoverthetarkine.com.au/activities/mountain-biking/

So, after my little adventure down the Sterling Valley Track I headed on up to Waratah to have a longer play on the bike. 

I was excited about this ride because I really liked Waratah … how cool is it to have a waterfall in the middle of town and a ruddy great mine right on the outside.  I know … super cool.  Even Dr Who would like Waratah.

However one thing about Waratah is very, very uncool (but don’t worry Waratah, I don’t blame you, I blame the website) … it turns out that the Tinstone Creek track doesn’t exist.

The ‘start’ of the track … It says “No Entry”.

After finding my way to a very locked and very uninviting gate at the supposed start of the Tinstone Creek Track I backtracked to the local service station/shop and after one of those wonderful conversations with all the locals present it was resoundingly agreed that there never was any track down to Magnet from Waratah except the old walking track.  Yep, they all agreed that I needed to go to the rubbish tip and head in from there, that’s where everyone else goes.

Obviously, at that point I politely backtracked the hell out of there, jumped in my car and drove off at top speed … cool it may be, but this place is crazy.

I drove down to the other end of Magnet Road and had a bit of a poke and a prod down there in the car, before deciding to backtrack to the start of the tramway line and just do an out and back ride.

… and that’s when I discovered a funny thing: it  turns out that the trail starts at the rubbish tip.  Woops.

Yep, you literally have to ride through the tip and out the other side you’ll find yourself on the old tram line.  Sweet (but very smelly). 

Also is it just me or is it particularly cool that on the edge of the tarkine the only two products that the tip takes are timber products and green waste.  Probably just my sense of humour. 

Anyway, 10 metres from the tip I suddenly felt like I was in another world … it was suddenly very quiet, and very dark.  to be honest it was kind of creepy.

The riding however wasn’t very fun.  The ground was very wet and muddy making it slow going, even downhill, and so my mind got to wandering … I was averaging about 7 minute kilometres and it was just gone 4.30pm …I had at least another 16 kilometres to go which means at best I’d be getting back at about 6.30pm … 30 minutes after dark … and I didn’t have a torch.  Oops.

Two kilometres in I stopped and realised that my only really option was to turn around.  I had bitten off too much on this day, and having got this far I also realised that this ride was probably best suited for the drier summer months.

An hour later I pulled into the Cradle Mountain car park just in time to see the last fingers of light leave the top of the mountain …

Another hour after that I was happily sitting in the Sheffield Hotel eating a steak and sipping a cold beer whilst reading a book by my current favourite author (Alistair Humphreys)

Isn’t it amazing what you can do in a single day.

One comment

  1. Hi John, I am a Waratah resident, have been for 18 years. The Magnet track in from the Council Tip is the best way in to the Magnet if you want a nice long walk. I have seen many on this track walking pushing their bikes. My advice leave the bike behind. Such a shame it is via the old Rubbish Tip, now Transfer Station. This is because the Council have used as such for a very many years. Hence the smell as the old tip is buried under the ground. They have been asked by me if something can be done with the Magnet track entrance and they are not wanting to do anything. Summer is better during the drier weather (note I said 'drier') but Winter is absolutely beautiful. Need waterproof walking boots and warm waterproof clothing all year round in case. Also good to drop into the Police Station and let the Local copper know you are going. Dont forget to let him know you are out safe and sound. Leave a full day ahead of you to go around back to the highway at the top of the Whyte. ie via the Quarry. Alternatively just get to the river at the bottom and turn around. It is an easy walk just a long way. It was built long ago for the old tram so not steep. Take your camera the views are spectacular. Stay at the Hotel (warmer with good food) or rough it at the Caravan Park/ Camping Ground. Most Locals know where the start of the Magnet track is if you have trouble finding it. Another great walk is the Philosopher Falls walk. Better maintained and with signage. Some very steep parts, if you have bad knees etc walk in 15 minutes then turn around and come out. Well worth it. Then the Waratah Falls in town overlooking Happy Valley is a nice short walk round to the bottom of the Falls. Or just view them opposite the Bischoff Hotel. Locals are happy to tell you the way. Hope to see you back someday, John. Regards, Judy L, Waratah.

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