Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Age not a Barrier for Bikes

A chance to exercise away from busy roads, meet new friends, learn about interesting local attractions were some of the things experienced by bicycle riders during Seniors Week in Bendigo.

One of the week’s program of activities was a shared bicycle ride along a section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail. “It was open to all, whether you felt like you were a senior or not, the ride proved popular” said Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail’s activities coordinator Greg Ralton, “Participants were able to join the ride at different points along the trail, with commentary provided on railway history, new tree plantings, signs and developments on this popular trail.’

Of course like most bicycle rides, this also finished with another popular activity, having coffees and chats at Lake Weeroona!

Bicycle Rewards

Its all about timing, targets and tactics in implementing bike infrastructure. This was the message Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards, as guest speaker at the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM 8 October in Bendigo.

Craig painted the picture of the challenges plus the rewards of getting more people on bikes, yet also highlighted some key things that can also lead to a project’s ‘crash’!

The Friends group’s President Garry Long reflected on the past 12 months achievements of the active community group. The group was formed 10 years ago, initially focussed on improving and extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail, yet has included in its objectives a broader focus on creating more local cycling and walking opportunities.

The group’s elected 2019-20 Executive is President Garry Long, Vice President Colin Scott, Secretary Paul Ferguson, and Treasurer Colin Campbell.

Watering Plants for the Future

Seasonal changes have seen lower than average rainfalls occurring in central Victoria. This environmental challenge is also impacting on Bendigo’s recent National Tree Day site of plants on the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Attempting to give the 3000 new plants a chance of survival, as summer approaches, Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members gathered to do a watering.

With the assistance of City of Greater Bendigo council’s Parks and Natural Reserves staff, a Friends working bee saw all plants given a much needed watering this week. Survival and growth of these plants is expected to improve this section of the trail’s natural environment, for the future enjoyment of trail users and the local community.

Bike Infrastructure Challenges

Most cyclists love using bicycle specific infrastructure, such as easy accessible bike racks, protective bike lanes, or off-road paths/trails. Many of these are also regularly used by walkers and families, all with the intent of improving safety and enjoyment plus encouraging the leaving of the car at home! Yet implementing such projects can often present many challenges.

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM’s guest speaker Craig Richards, CEO Bicycle Network, intends to share some of these challenges and how many can be addressed.

The Annual General Meeting will be held at the Bendigo District Cycling Clubrooms, Tom Flood Centre, Water St, Bendigo, Tuesday 8th October, 6.45pm.

Members of the public are invited to attend, with the meeting also hearing of the Friends group’s achievements over the past 12 months plus objectives to be implemented over the next year.

Ride4Seniors Week

Will the 2019 Seniors Week in Bendigo be special, be memorable, maybe life changing for you and your friends?

Wednesday 9th October will see a free bicycle ride activity held on a short section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail in Bendigo. This off-road trail has a low gradient, a good surface, so making this ride available to all abilities.

Prepare now, check your bike or borrow a bike. Of course definately a cafe coffee chat will happen upon completion! Check out further details via this link.

This bicycle ride is an opportunity to meet people, make new friends, or learn new skills. The Friends members look forward to sharing the morning with you.

https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Things-To-Do/Community-Event/okeefe-railtrail-bike-ride

O’Keefe Trail Rated a Winner

Bendigo resident Keith Davenport definitely loves challenging himself, whether it is event running, road cycling in central Victoria, cycling in the French Alps, or jogging along beaches in his previous home country of New Zealand. His cycling interests also have broadened to include off-road gravel bikes that can be ridden along country roads, bush trails and rail trails.

Ride starts at the O’Keefe trail and Bendigo Creek Trail. Photo: K.Davenport 14 Aug 2019

A recent ride beginning and ending in Bendigo saw Keith include the O’Keefe Rail Trail to Heathcote for his first time, and after taking ‘time out’ at a Heathcote bakery, it was then off riding along quite country roads via Redesdale. The day’s total distance was to covered over 100kms. Asked what he thought of the rail trail section, Keith responded “It was actually much better than I thought, should have done it long ago”.

Site of the former Heathcote Railway Station is reached. Photo: K.Davenport 14 Aug 2019

“I really enjoyed riding this trail, it is well maintained and signposted. There is enough variety in terms of terrain and features that it doesn’t become boring in the way that some rail trails can. I really hope that it gets extended right through to Wallan” said Keith, “ as it would be great to be able to ride most of the way from Bendigo to Melbourne on these kind of safe, easy to ride trails.” No doubt Keith will return again, probably with family and friends, to enjoy what the O’Keefe Rail Trail, Axedale and Heathcote have to offer.

Golden Wattles in Bloom along Trail

Spring in the Bendigo bush is just around the corner, which is a great time to experience the local natural bush environment highlighting the seasonal change with its flowers. Such was the ideal time this week for the U3A Bendigo Walking Group, who’s members headed out on a planned walk along the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

O’Keefe Rail Trail water station utilised by U3A Bendigo walkers Photo: Margaret Hanson

With the Golden Wattles (Acacia pycnantha) early blooms creating a splash of bright yellow, such made a lovely setting to enjoy the trail walk. Its no surprise that the enthusiastic members definitely had a chat or two along the way, as well as including a morning tea break.

U3A Bendigo Walking Group members walking the trail with wattles. Photo: Liz Martin 28 Aug 2019

Of course the walkers did need to dress accordingly for the expected cool day out walking the rail trail, as it was the very tail end of formal winter in Victoria!

Trees, Trails and Volunteers

The old saying that “many hands make light work” is often true when it comes to volunteering, and this was the case for the 2019 National Tree Day (NTD). Planning by the City of Greater Bendigo council’s Parks and Open Spaces staff identified the O’Keefe Rail Trail in East Bendigo as one of three Bendigo sites for this annual tree planting activity. Together with council support, the Longlea Landcare Group chose the Axedale River Reserve as a NTD site, which is also closely connected with the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Volunteers at National Tree Day 2019, Axedale River Reserve. Photo: Longlea Landcare

As with previous local NTD activities involving this rail trail reserve, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members were again keen to be involved along with other community members. With 70 volunteers at Axedale successfully planting 700 trees, and 80 volunteers at the O’Keefe Rail Trail site East Bendigo planting 3000 plants, it was a great community effort.

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members Rob and Nola Jarvis. Photo: Paul Harrison. 28 July 2019

As world leaders currently attempt to address the issue of large scale burning of Brazil’s Amazon Forest, such concerns are based upon the science that trees and plants provide many environmental benefits like improving air quality. Trees also help to control the heat in cities and urban areas, as well as countless health benefits for individuals such as reducing stress and promoting physical activity.

At a local level, the O’Keefe Rail Trail reserve’s environment will again benefit from the outcomes of the 2019 National Tree Day in the future, not only for trail users yet also helping to improve habitats for native animals and birds.

Signs for Clear Trail Directions

Not being familiar with any trail can sometimes have some users becoming confused or at worst believe that they are lost! A review of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, by Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members, found certain sections may introduce ‘choices’ or uncertainty for those first time users.

The review’s outcome was then highlighted to the trail’s manager, the City of Greater Bendigo council, who’s staff agreed to assist improve the trail’s wayfinding signage. Members of the Friends group then worked with council staff to create a new wayfinding sign design, specific to the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

New wayfinding signs on O’Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: Rob Jarvis

With the required new signs manufactured and installed at identified locations near Axedale and Heathcote towns, it is expected that visitors and locals will continue to rate this as one of the best rail trails in Victoria …..if not Australia!

Enjoying More Than Just a Rail Trail

What was going to hold the interest of four girlfriends’ heading out for a planned two day country escape away on bikes? Would central Victoria’s O’Keefe Rail Trail provide the spark to keep the momentum happening, create a level of excitement to be remembered, plus along the way deliver surprises both on and off the trail?

Ready to Ride the O’Keefe Rail Trail Photo: Allison Stephens

Well one of those cyclists Allison Stephens visually captured such an ‘escape’ earlier this year, while out there cycling and enjoying an O’Keefe trail ride with three of her friends. They cycling from Bendigo via Axedale to Heathcote, and then returned later the next day to catch a V/Line train back to Melbourne.

 

It was all about a “100km of trail, 2 flat tires, a few beers, a mob of roo’s and a dog named Lexie! (Allison Stephens)

Checking out Rifle Butts platform, on the O’Keefe Rail Trail Photo: Allison Stephens

This off-road trail and its connected towns just have to be one of Victoria’s best kept secrets……and its open 24/7 every month of the year in regional Australia!