Review: GABCY Bakery Tour – Phil

In January 2023 most of the River parks and reserves were still closed in the aftermath of the floods. Undeterred, Phil rode a 2-day, 240km U-shaped tour of the GABCY Network linking up many small towns with a particular focus on their bakeries. This is his account.

This was my first trip to the northern country in decades, and never with a bike. With it came the normal trepidations- how far can I expect to get per hour; do I have enough water capacity; will I have phone reception if something goes wrong?

Day 1 – Murchison to Echuca, 116km.

I caught the 5:55 am train from Southern Cross Melbourne to Murchison East. I had a plan to utilise the prevailing wind.

A week earlier I had rolled out from Seymour train station assisted by a ripping southerly that blew me along. A mechanical meant I had to pull the pin and go home. But I learnt a few things. The second time around I changed the route to bring my first re-supply stop (water) closer, and the wind now favoured an arc-shaped parcour. Just on the wind… I highly recommend targeting the best wind for your route. If time doesn’t allow that, then plan your route around the wind.

Changing my route was easy. I was already well versed with the GABCY network and playing on rwgps has become a hobby. 

At 8:10am I arrived at Murchison East station and excitedly clipped-in. Away we go! You pass an impressive two-storey old hotel before crossing a fortified bridge over the Goulburn River and into Murchison central.

The bakery has automatic doors like a bank! By now the trip was taking shape in my head. It’d be a bakery tour of the Northern Country. You can town-hop easily enough here. It’s 30k from town to town on gravel backroads. Less than 10 cars passed me in 2 days (250k).

I love custard scrolls and figured I’d eat 4 each day and rate them. Sadly, custard scrolls don’t exist in this part of the state. I know, crazy. I settled on a custard tart. Then I asked the friendly staff for their most popular item under $5. She gave me a vanilla slice. This would be the new game plan. That idea lasted 2 bakeries; I was offered a vanilla slice every time and there is a limit to how many vanilla slices I can eat in a day!

Breakfast done. Off we go. I ride with a Garmin etrex mounted on the stem as my navigation device and utilise rwgps to configure the pre-trip gpx file. Two years ago I would have had no idea what that meant.

I joined lots of GABCY lines to keep me tailwinding (heading NW), and ticked off towns I can’t recall ever visiting- Tatura, Kyabram, Tongala. Riding was on flat, cruisy gravel.

Highlights of day 1:

  • the urban wiggle thru Tatura,
  • the water tank art at Kyabram,
  • connecting with the Murray River just east of Echuca,
  • and the sausage roll at Tatura was to die for.

Arriving in Echuca I completed the 5k scenic trail loop which takes in the confluence of the Campaspe with the Murray. Nice.

Finally into the campground to set-up, rinse the clothes, and wander into town for a feed. It was a beautiful evening- still, warm, airy. Just great.

Day 2 – Echuca to Bendigo, 124 km.

Day two, rise and shine! The corellas made sure of it. I had planned an early roll-out anyway. 6:40 am hit my first bakery. I’m partial to date scones. The way out of Echuca showed just how big this place is. They have everything!

The 30k gravel to Rochester was my least favourite of the trip- false flat and rough.

I bailed onto the bitumen near to Rochy, and gladly spent an hour in town admiring the silo art works, Iddles Lane, and bakery items (of course). Also the Oppy statue. They certainly have honoured their town heroes well. It was difficult to imagine that barely 2 mths earlier this town was desperately under water.

Leaving Rochy on the bitumen I was a bit hesitant to turn left onto a goat track. So glad I did! It was a fine layer of slippery sand over a hard pack. My kind of surface. Fun. My steed is a hardtail mtb with 2.1” tyres. I’m pretty slow but i can go for hrs without a rest (i will stop for pics tho). Down the way it became superb gravel (Collins Rd).

I pulled in at Aysons Reserve where loads of folks were free camping. Here the Campaspe River has backed up from a downstream dam wall so it looks wide, full and impressive.

Campers tell me it’s only 5 ft deep and you can walk across. Ok. Red gum stumps submerged in the middle have fresh shoots; what an amazing hardwood plant.

Elmore came next. It has a bakery I heard is outstanding. Turns out it sells the same stuff as the others with maybe more fancy cakes. What stood out was the rapid service. This place was busy but no one had to wait long. I got quite the feast and sat outside in the shade. 

The final section on my bakery tour was a mystery. 65k till Bendigo. I found it hard to source info on the trails in Bendigo NP.  It was also out of the GABCY network. I like riding single track (ST) and so plotted a few into the route.

I knew the arvo would be hot so drank 1L of water at Elmore (tap near the train station). My achilles heal was water capacity- I had room onboard for 1.5L. By hydrating at every stop and departing with full bidons this had been fine (till this last longer section).

The ride into the Bendigo NP was my type of parcour. It felt adventurous. Everything was going dandy till I turned onto a ST.

It was 3km thick of Orb-type spider webs across the trail. I had to walk it. Took +90 min to escape! Should’ve taken 5. Was a bit scary too.

The arvo sun was starting to win, and I was running low on water. My route had a few other ST’s and I wasn’t willing to experience the spiders again.

So I stopped and asked a local home owner for a few directional tips and some water. I still had 500ml but didn’t fancy dehydrating my way into Bendigo. All good. They were nice folks. If they have dogs that look well loved and aren’t ‘guard dogs’ it’s a guarantee happy place IMO.

Re-routed. Misadventure avoided. Note: my rwgps ‘big art & sweet bakeries’ gpx file reflects post-trip updates, eliminating the ST’s. 

The final highlight was rolling into Bendigo along Pall Mall on Sat arvo. Chinese new year celebrations meant I had to exit the bike path early. No probs. I very much enjoy cruising into impressive towns down their main street with all the architecture and vibes. In Warragul we used to call it the glory ride.

All-up this was a great adventure for me- full of new towns, trails, people and bakeries. If you’re planning something similar please read the detailed description notes that come with the gpx file – Big Art and Sweet Bakeries on


I also created a shorter 200km bakery trail (petite route: big art & sweet bakeries in rwgps) which might appeal to some. It’s E to W in shape, takes in a nice section of the Goulburn River, and swaps out a town or two.

Cheers Phil.


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