With the O’Keefe Rail Trail plus its connected gravel roads ‘open all hours for business’, there was anticipation amongst Mitchell Bicycle Users Group members and Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members for a jointly planned social Sunday ride based at Heathcote.
The ride group first checked out the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s Heathcote trail head with its heritage railway gates, then the group rode along the existing rail trail to Pink Cliffs Rd. For the next part of the planned route, the riders continued along a section of the former original railway alignment that is being proposed for part of the Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail, before turning into Dairy Flat Road.
With a light tail-wind, the ride along Dairy Flat Rd was very scenic with the gravel surfaces being in good condition. Having very little vehicle traffic, and only a couple of challenging hills, this half of the ride on country gravel roads to Tooborac was a delightful experience.
The next stop was for lunch, planned at the Tooborac Hotel and Brewery. This quaint country pub is a unique attraction for many reasons, with its 19th century gold rush era history, a boutique brewery in the old bluestone stables, and an outlet for a range of locally made pies, this all combined for a lunchtime experience to be remembered.
The afternoon saw the riders head out of Tooborac to enjoy some more quite gravel rural roads, such as Majors Line Road where one might imagine the steam loco ‘Major’ and railway wagons using this road’s exact alignment to once haul cut timber from this extensive forested area.
With the riders arriving back in Heathcote, it was time for a coffee and some reflections about the fantastic country experience all had enjoyed. As one cyclist said “Put simply, great weather, scenic countryside, a tasty pub lunch, and good quite rural roads shared with some terrific friends!”