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Linking central Victoria via the old railway line
Watching the kangaroos feeding adjacent the O’Keefe Rail Trail was not the only sights to be seen for Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members participated in their ‘Winter Trail Ride’ from Bendigo to Heathcote and return. The ride began with early morning foggy conditions, soon clearing while enjoying the upgraded trail surface in the Junortoun and Longlea areas.
Sheep in adjacent paddocks seemed to ‘race’ the riders, water trickled under trail bridges to near full water dams, a greening landscape that had much changed since midsummer! Arriving at Axedale, this added some riders in colourful kit into the ride ‘peloton’, as ‘Le tour de O’Keefe’ crossed the Campaspe River on its way up the challenging Inghams Road incline. Wallabies scurrying across the Knowsley Forest’s floor, as the forest protected riders from the slight yet cool northerly wind. The Knowsley hamlet may have been caught sleeping, yet a photo opportunity was not lost to the group!
While crossing the trail’s longest (90m) trail bridge, riders noted the flowing Mt Ida Creek was helping to raise Lake Eppalock’s water levels. It was a welcome sight, to that of the previous summer’s dry creek bed. Past the Derrinal Station Rest Stop, the riders were quickly swallowed up into the depths of the One Eye Forest! Soaking up the views of trees, sometimes being high above the forest floor on the former raised railway embankment, all riders emerged out into urban Heathcote only to interrupt a large mob of kangaroos having a midday snack of green grass.
The Union Hotel Heathcote welcomed the riders, with a few stories being told over lunch and drinks. Then riders noted the sound of rain, so donned their wet weather gear and off for the return ride. As rain water dripped off leaves and ran down gullies, riders were now focussed on a new destination….a hot coffee and snack at the Axedale Tavern Cafe. With the Tavern’s Sunday live music busker performances over, it was a much needed warm room, hot drink, and a well earned break for all to enjoy!
It was a great day out on the upgraded sections of trail, sharing a few stories, experiencing a slice of winter, plus seeing the rain refreshed rural landscape and forests. When’s your next ride or walk planned on the O’Keefe Rail Trail?