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Linking central Victoria via the old railway line
Tuesday 1st July 2014, marked four years since the current O’Keefe Rail Trail Project officially commenced.
This date also marked the 21st anniversary of the commencement for the initial trail project, to build the then unnamed off-road trail utilising a former railway line reserve. This was a ground breaking project by the former Strathfieldsaye Shire Council, the State Government, and the Federal Government (via an unemployment scheme). It would also be one of the very first (within the first three it is believed) such trails in Australia, to become known as a rail trails. (The O’Keefe Rail Trail history)
Fast forward to 2010-2014, this current jointly funded State Government and City of Greater Bendigo Council project has enabled the third stage of development for the O’Keefe Rail Trail to be undertaken. It is expected that this current project will extend the trail’s distance to approximately 50kms overall, and be completed by early 2015.
Another community driven proposal, by Mitchell Bicycle User Group and Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, has the goal of creating a significant long distance off-road trail in central Victoria. A Wallan-Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail directly networked with other off-road trails, like the Craigeburn Bypass Trail, would be approx 150+kms in total (networked). This vision would incorporate the O’Keefe Rail Trail, and links to other off-road trails, connecting Melbourne via Kilmore with Bendigo, similar to what the original railway line did when it opened in 1890!
Community expectations, and rail trails development, continues to build Victoria as the tracks and trails state of Australia.