Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Sunrise for School Students

With parents delivering bikes in cars or trailers, and children gathering together, the rural setting of Longlea’s Peppercorn Park was not the normal place for the Axedale Primary School’s Principle watching over her pupils. It was Thursday April 1st too, the last day before the school holiday break, so what was about to happen for these children, parents, teachers and members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail? Was it to be an April Fool’s joke, or something much more interesting?

With the time nearing 7.30am (daylight savings time) and the sun yet to rise, there was definitely a degree of excitement in the air for these children who were about to participate in this small rural school’s Ride2School activity using a section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Students gather at Peppercorn Park, Longlea. Photo: G.Long

After a final briefing that set out the ride rules, a line of riders headed off along the rail trail in the pre-dawn light. With differing ride abilities, these grades 3-6 children spread out in an orderly fashion as the sunrise created some magical images to be experienced.

Sunrise with Ride2School students on the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: G.Long

Some of the more confident riding children appeared very keen, perhaps to pass the two Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members who were ride leaders yet knowing that this was not permitted! While other riders filtered slowly towards the back of the group, to be encouraged and supported by parent and teacher riders. A short stop off at the trail’s ‘Axedale Station’ platform had the students exploring the inside area of the trail’s restored heritage railway wagon.

Students exploring the restored railway wagon. Photo: G. Ralton

As the Ride2School group neared the outskirts of the small town of Axedale, additional younger student riders from the lower grades then joined the ride to the finish this activity at the school. Hot toasted cheese sandwiches greeted the whole ride group, with many of the children very happy that they had finished this 8km ride. Listening to the students chatting, it was likely that bikes may have been a preferred choice of many during their school holiday break.

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