Arapiles Big Sky Bike Trail

Composite image of cliff face and riders on the bike trail
This 33km trail will take you on a journey to an ancient mountain, now a world famous rock climbing venue

Cycle along pathways the Aboriginal people walked before Europeans and discover grasslands that host up to 500 plant species. Climb sand dunes and see magnificent canola fields stretching to the horizon. You may spot a goanna or kangaroo or catch a glimpse of one of our fastest birds of prey. You may also hear trees singing in the wind.

Look for

Grey kangaroos and swamp wallabies which live near the top of the mountain and ground dwelling short-beaked echidnas, shingleback lizards, tree and sand goannas and the eastern brown snake. At night you may see ringtail and brush tail possums foraging for food.

Listen to

Birdsong. Over 100 species of birds have been recorded at Mt Arapiles including weebills, thornbills, honeyeaters, lorikeets, parrots, kookaburras, galahs, magpies, rosellas, robins, blue wrens and wedge tail eagles.

Scan the skies for

The Peregrine Falcon, one of the fastest birds on earth.

About the trail

Composite image of bike trail and birds on a lake

Overview of the bike trail

The Arapiles Bike Trail starts near Natimuk’s central parking area opposite the National Hotel near the skate park. Toilets and electric BBQs are located beside the car park. An Orientation Sign about the trail is located here.

The trail is a 33km off road recreational trail looping through the natural landscape of Natimuk, Natimuk Lake, Mitre Lake, Mitre Rock and Mt Arapiles. You’ll find ten interpretive signs with stories along the trail. Mountain bikes are the most suitable for this trail.

The trail can be completed as a loop or divided into smaller sections.

Natimuk Lake to Natimuk

Natimuk Lake to Natimuk is a 3.7km flat ride on compacted gravel. This section follows Natimuk Creek between Natimuk Lake and Natimuk. Start this trail next to the old courthouse building in the Main Street.

Natimuk to Mt Arapiles car park

Natimuk to Mt Arapiles car park is a 10km relatively flat ride on compacted gravel. Start this trail next to the rotunda and the artillery gun just near the skate park. At the rotunda the path follows Natimuk Creek out of town to Gladigau Rd and then winds its way to the camp ground at Mt Arapiles. The picturesque Mt Arapiles is always in sight.

Mt Arapiles car park to Mitre Rock

Mt Arapiles Car Park to Mitre Rock is a 3.3km undulating ride along a predominantly 4-wheel drive track. The track follows the base of Mt Arapiles on the Centenary Park Access Track before heading out of the park crossing the Natimuk-Frances Rd to reach Mitre Rock.

Mt Arapiles car park to Vinegar Hill

Mt Arapiles Car Park to Vinegar Hill is an 8km undulating ride along an unsealed surface. This trail follows the Centenary Park Access Track before heading towards Mitre Rock. From Mitre Rock, the trail heads north through the Mitre Lake Reserve toward Vinegar Hill with magnificent views. There is no formed trail and riders may have to negotiate fallen trees and variable ground conditions. This section of the trail is not suitable in wet conditions.

Mt Arapiles car park to Natimuk Lake

Mt Arapiles Car Park to Natimuk Lake is a 23km ride on mixed undulating terrain including quiet shared dirt roads, specific bike trail, some unused road reserves and on-road sections. This scenic section takes you along the base of Mt Arapiles, past Mitre Rock (if time allows take in the view from the top of ‘Vinegar Hill’) and Mitre Lake and back along the edge of Natimuk Lake. This section will take you right to the Natimuk Lake Caravan Park, with shower, barbecue and camping facilities. This section of the trail is an off road section. There is no formed trail and riders may have to negotiate fallen trees and variable ground conditions. This section of the trail is not suitable in wet conditions.

On the trail

The Arapiles Trail is unique in Victoria in that it traverses mainly broad acre farm land. In this area crops include wheat, barley, canola (yellow flowers) and various beans, lentils and pulses. You may also see sheep or cattle grazing in the paddocks. Farming operations vary from season to season. In autumn and winter many farmers are sowing crops. During this time emerging crops may be sprayed. Spring will see the cutting of pasture and crops for hay. People who suffer from hay fever may wish to take appropriate precautions before riding at this time.

Ploughing of strips beside fences is still common practice for containment of fire and riders may see this happening in late spring and early summer. Summer is harvesting time and farmers are busy day and night. You’ll see farm equipment such as headers harvesting crops. If you see machinery adjacent to the trail, it may be better to wait until it has moved away before continuing.

Bike repairs

Before you leave, take a bicycle tube repair kit in case of puncture. The nearest bike shop is in Horsham.

Horsham Cyclery
74 Hamilton St, Horsham
Horsham 3400
Phone 5381 1899

Phone coverage

You may not be able to get coverage in some areas of the trail. To be connected to Police, Ambulance or Fire Services key in 112.


This trail was built from funding from Horsham Rural City Council, Macpherson Smith Community Alliance, the Victorian Government and the Australian Government.

Some content for this site was developed by SHP (Sue Hodges Productions) for the trail’s interpretive signage.

Land owners along the trail are acknowledged for their support of the project.

Photographs from Mark Radford, Donna Bridge, Simon Mentz, Eddie Mofardin and Horsham Rural City Council.

Code of Conduct

Composite image of Mt Arapiles and road

Code of Conduct

  • Observe local signs and restrictions
  • Do not disturb plants and animals
  • Give way to stock on the path
  • Respect property and livestock of landholders
  • Take rubbish home or place it in bins
  • Don’t litter- especially cigarette butts
  • Alert other users of your approach and pass at reduced speed
  • Keep to the left
  • Beware of traffic at road crossings
  • Pull over when large machinery passes
  • Close any gates on the trail
  • Keep dogs on a leash and clean up after them
  • Dogs are not allowed in reserves
  • No motor bikes, trail bikes or horses are permitted on the trail
  • Don’t forget drinking water. There is no drinking water available on the trail
  • Wear sunscreen and appropriate protective clothing
  • Avoid cycling in the heat of the day

How to get there


Composite image of roundabout and directional signs

By road

Travelling from Melbourne to Natimuk
From Melbourne head northwest on the Western Highway towards Ballarat
Continue on the Western Highway approximately 290kms to Horsham
Turn left onto the Wimmera Highway/B240 at Wilson Street (signs for B240/Edenhope/Naracoorte) and continue straight through to Natimuk

Travelling from Adelaide to Natimuk
From Adelaide take the South Eastern Freeway towards Tailem Bend
Continue on the Dukes/Western Highway until just before Nhill
Turn right onto the Nhill-Harrow Road /C206 (signs for Goroke/Winiam/Harrow)
Turn left onto Mitre Road
Continue onto Mitre-Nurcoung Road
Turn left onto Natimuk-Frances Road
Turn left onto Wimmera Highway/B240

Travelling from Horsham to Natimuk
Starting at the Post Office in Firebrace Street, head south to Wilson Street.
Turn right onto Wilson Street/Wimmera Highway
Continue straight ahead for approximately 23kms until you reach the main street of Natimuk.

By public transport

V/Line offers various services both to and from Horsham which can link up with a bus service to Natimuk.
1800 800 007 /

Bus Travel from Horsham to Naracoorte via Natimuk / Mount Arapiles

There is a once per weekday service both from Horsham to Naracoorte and Naracoorte to Horsham via Natimuk on the Wimmera Highway. This bus stops in Natimuk. Further information Wimmera Roadways 03 5381 1548 or on the PTV website

Where to stay

Composite image of campground and Mt Arapiles park entrance

Where to stay in Natimuk

National Hotel
65 Main Street
Natimuk 3409
(03) 5387 1300

Includes family friendly hotel rooms and cabins, laundromat, undercover outside area, wood heated bar, ATM and bar snacks. Bar and bistro meals Tuesday to Saturday. Bookings essential. 

Natimuk Lake Caravan Park
361 Lake Road
Natimuk 3409
0407 800 753
(03) 5387 1362
The park has 40 sites of which 30 are powered. There are also a couple of cabins. The park is located in a quiet rural setting on the Lake about 4kms from Natimuk on the trail. Facilities are excellent and the park is pet friendly.

Mount Arapiles – Tooan State Park
Centenary Park Road
Mount Arapiles
This camp site is in Centenary Park, near the base of the cliffs. There are fireplaces, picnic tables and toilets but no showers. Camping fees apply. Unpowered sites only.
Parks Victoria: 131963

For further information contact the Horsham Visitor Information on (03) 5382 9502 or drop in to the centre located at the Horsham Town Hall at 71 Pynsent St, Horsham  

Natimuk and Surrounds

Composite image of climbing equipment laying on rock and a cliff face

Natimuk and Surrounds

The town of Natimuk has a population of approximately 500 and is situated 23kms west of Horsham, 320kms northwest of Melbourne and 420kms from Adelaide.

People from all over the world flock to Natimuk to experience the rock climbing at Mt Arapiles and nearby Grampians. The township is growing in popularity for its arts and cultural scene, antiques, craft shops and restored old buildings.

Areas of Interest

Mount Arapiles is a rock formation that rises above the Wimmera plains in Western Victoria. Drive, ride or walk to the summit and take in the scenic views over the wheat plains and enjoy a relaxing picnic. Mt Arapiles is widely regarded as the top rock climbing area in Australia and is world renowned. Mt Arapiles is an old, weather beaten cliff, yet the walls of the gullies are incredibly steep and smooth. The good quality rock and the variety of climbs make it attractive for beginners through to experienced climbers. More than 2000 routes have been developed on the many cliffs and pinnacles, presenting variety and challenge to climbers of all levels.

Mt Arapiles Tooan State Park is a habitat for a variety of mammals. There are over 100 bird species including the Peregrine Falcon, Rainbow Bee Eater, Gilbert Whistler and Southern Scrub Robin. Kangaroos will be seen grazing the lower slopes and possums observed foraging in the tree canopies at night. Toilet and picnic facilities are located in the main campground. The park includes Mitre Rock, adjacent to Mt Arapiles. The 7475 hectare park is an invaluable resource for nature conservation with about 14% of the states flora species represented in the Mt Arapiles section alone.

Mitre Lake

Mitre Lake is a natural salt lake surrounded by Samphire, Melaleuca and other salt tolerant vegetation. Mitre Lake is part of the Chain of Lakes, a natural chain of wetlands that stretch from Douglas in the south to the north of Mt Arapiles. Mitre Lake is home to many birds including Red Capped Plovers, birds of prey and various water birds. In spring flocks of the Banded Stilt, a migratory bird, visit the lakes of the area.

Natimuk Lake

Natimuk Lake is a popular recreational place for people to enjoy fishing, swimming, water skiing and sailing. Facilities include camping, picnic, BBQ, play equipment, toilets and cabins. Natimuk Creek is an intermittent waterway that is surrounded by remnant plains grassy woodland.

Heritage Trail

Follow Natimuk’s Heritage Trail for a more detailed view of the town’s impressive list of preserved nineteenth century architecture and historic sites. Learn the
stories of the settlers and get a taste of 1850s pastoral life. Brochures are available at the Horsham and Grampians Visitor Information Centre in Horsham and at local Natimuk shops.

Nati Frinj Festival

Nati Frinj Festival is a biennial arts festival that promises to delight and inspire visitors with visual performance and arts events.

Natimuk Farmers Market

Natimuk Farmers Market showcases local and regional produce. The market is held on Sundays on the following dates: March - Long weekend. April - Easter Sunday. June - Queens Birthday weekend. December - Christmas Market.

The Little Desert

The Little Desert is about 45kms north west of Natimuk. More than 600 species of native plants have been recorded in the Little Desert, representing about one fifth of the indigenous species of Victoria. Some of the plants you may see include banksia, tea tree, buloke, sheoake, melaleuca, stringbark, yellow and red gum. There are a variety of soil types within the desert and the plant life varies. Not all these plants can be seen in the one area. Apart from the elusive Mallee Fowl and rare Southern Scrub Robin, more than 220 kinds of birds have been seen.
Parrots, wrens and currawongs are common and honeyeaters feed on the flowering plants. Animal life includes brush-tailed possums and sugar gliders, kangaroos, bats, emus and many kinds of reptiles. Stumpy tailed lizards and bearded dragons are often found basking in the sun. The best time to visit the park is between late winter and early summer when the temperatures are comfortable and the park is full of blossoms and wildflowers.


Horsham has a population of 20,000 and is located 23kms east of Natimuk. It offers excellent opportunities for shopping, dining, entertainment and accommodation. Also located within the town centre are a number of cultural attractions including the Horsham Regional Art Gallery which specialises in Australian photography and several performing arts venues. For more information, please contact the Horsham and Grampians Visitor Information Centre on 1800 633 218.