Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail

Looking for a place to enjoy a picnic or a quick snack while cycling on the O’Keefe Rail Trail? Need to top up your water bottle, whilst out walking along the trail in the peaceful surroundings of its natural environment?

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail continue to work with the City of Greater Bendigo, to provide important trail user facilities along the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Council’s contractors have recently upgraded access to the trail’s Axe Creek bridge picnic area, providing a new gravel surface whilst also improving the storm-water drainage.

Access upgrade for the rail trail’s Axe Creek picnic area, June 2019. Photo Ken Hanson

The trail’s new water station near Bennetts Rd Junortoun has also seen its access area upgraded with a new gravel surface, which has improved the adjoining picnic table and seats’ immediate area. Not only great facilities for the general public, this section of trail is often used by the likes of SCOPE Loddon Mallee for its Bendigo client’s outings.

New potable water station and picnic area, Bennetts Rd Junortoun, June 2019. Photo: Ken Hanson

A second water station has recently been installed next to the trail’s Bike Repair Station at Axedale Park, providing facilities for both trail users as well as those enjoying the Park.

Historic Forest Ride to Rushworth

What to do on cool yet sunny autumn Sunday in central Victoria? Well ten riders from the Mitchell Bicycle Users Group (MBUG) and ten riders from the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail headed out to ride all or part of a route between Heathcote and Rushworth.

The riders were able to experience the Heathcote-Graytown National Park, pass by Mt Ida, Mt Camel, and the Gobarup Nature Conservation Reserve, as well as through the Whroo Nature Conservation Reserve. As the planned morning tea location, the major attraction of the Whroo Historical Area is the significant Balaclava Mine, which is an open-cut mine in the now Australian ‘ghost town’ of Whroo. Mining in this open cut ceased in the 1920’s, yet the site remains a visual reminder of the former gold rush era.

Grass Trees in Heathcote-Graytown National Park

Grass Trees in Heathcote-Graytown National Park

Due to a timing issue (was it a head wind, or distractions on route?), unfortunately the two groups did not meet as planned to share a cuppa and Anzac biscuits at the Whroo Historical Area, yet Rushworth businesses definitely benefited as the group members enjoyed lunch at either the MotoFinish Cafe or the Rushworth Bakery in Rushworth.

Rider’s lunch at Rushworth. Photo Greg Ralton

A good coffee and some home-cooked food was a great way to finish exploring this part of a proposed Heathcote to Murchison Trail, for which the Campaspe Shire Council is currently seeking funding for completing the current open section of the Waranga Rail Trail.

‘Trails and Ales’ for The O’Keefe Challenge Ride

The ‘Light the Trail’ event is promising to be something special in 2019. Riders will be using the Axedale to Heathcote section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail for event in The O’Keefe Challenge’s weekend of activities, which also includes the iconic Mandalay Resources O’Keefe Marathon and other events.

The Light the Trail ride destination will be Heathcote, with the end of the ride seeing riders roll into Palling Bros. Brewery on High St in Heathcote. This will be a unique experience, with riders cycling from Axedale to Heathcote guided by their bike’s own light, and possibly by the moon also! Riders will be encouraged to also ‘light up’ their bike, as well as themselves!

Light The Trail. Photo: G.Long

Light The Trail. Photo: G.Long

At the event’s finish location, Palling Bros. Brewery, prizes will be awarded for ‘Best Illuminated Outfit’, ‘Best Lit Bike’ plus an ‘Encouragement Award’ for those who have demonstrated the spirit of The O’Keefe Challenge.

Date: Friday, 26 April 2019.

Location: Axedale to Heathcote (26km)

Time: 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start

More details and registrations via this link

Bicycle Network Supports Rail Trail Development

Connecting the Melbourne trail network directly into regional central Victoria, via safe off-road trails proposal has the full support of Bicycle Network. The key missing link is the Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail proposal.

Seeing first hand the enthusiastic work by community groups, like Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, Mitchell Bicycle User Group and Bike Bendigo, who are involved with this proposal had Bicycle Network’s CEO Craig Richards amazed. “What this would do for bike riding in Victoria is extraordinary” said Craig, from his recent visit to Bendigo and the O’Keefe Rail Trail. The network linking of the O’Keefe trail, the Goldfields Track, and a proposed Heathcote to Murchison Trail would open up many opportunities to explore wine regions and country hospitality for cyclists and walkers.

BN Logo

Bicycle Network’s newsroom article Friends of the rail trail show the way tells how passionate community groups support improving the health and wellbeing of their communities, as well as small businesses involved with the active tourism market. With the City of Greater Bendigo council and Mitchell Shire council supporting the rail trail proposal, a staged development of this linking trail will depend upon support and funding by the Victorian State government.

Bicycle Network’s CEO Explores Bendigo by Bike

Melbourne based Bicycle Network’s CEO Craig Richards recently ‘escaped’ the capital city, to see what it was like to cycle in the regional Victorian city of Bendigo. Accepting an invitation by Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail to visit Bendigo, Craig was surprised when experiencing some of the urban off-road trails, such as the Back Creek Trail with its creative artistic displays and Bendigo Creek Trail, and to see how these were providing a continuous safe route for cycling commuters.

Back Creek Trail, Bendigo. Photo: Craig Richards

Back Creek Trail (Williamson St underpass), Bendigo. Photo: Craig Richards

Riding a section the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Bendigo to Axedale with the Friends members, Craig was not able to spot a platypus in the Campaspe River yet lunch at the Axedale Tavern was certainly another highlight. Time did not permit exploring the trail’s latest 30km extension to Heathcote, perhaps a reason for another visit in the future!

Inspecting the former Axedale Railway Station development, O'Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: Les Lewis

Inspecting the former Axedale Railway Station development, O’Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: Les Lewis

The ‘country escape’ for the CEO certainly provided an awareness of how Bendigo is striving to become Victoria’s regional ‘City of Greater Cycling’, to improve both its community’s health and wellbeing as well as attract more of the active tourist market.

 

A Heathcote to Murchison Trail a reality?

The Campaspe Shire council is in the planning stages for extending the Greater Shepparton City Council’s current ‘Murchison Rail Trail’ on to Rushworth and Heathcote.

Former railway bridge. Goulburn River, Murchison

This extended trail section, when formally constructed, could link the O’Keefe Rail Trail (Heathcote to Bendigo) to the Murchison East railway station. A Heathcote to Murchison Trail proposal brochure has been produced by the Campaspe Shire.

 

Grass Trees in Heathcote-Graytown National Park

Grass Trees in Heathcote-Graytown National Park

Support by community, businesses and trail users for this trail is to be encouraged, so have your say, contact the Campaspe Shire council, the Greater Shepparton City council and your local State Government representative.

Bike Repair Station for Rail Trail

Help for cyclists needing to fix their bike on the O’Keefe Rail Trail has just been installed, perhaps a first for a rail trail in Australia! The provision of a Bike Repair Station has been the initiative of Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group, with funding for two units due to the support provided by Strathfieldsaye and Districts Community Enterprise. (refer: 15 Dec 2018 Friends’ web News post).

Bike Repair Station tested by member Les Lewis for O'Keefe Rail Trail users. Photo: G.Long

O’Keefe Rail Trail’s Bike Repair Station tested by member Les Lewis. Photo: G.Long

A second funded repair station will soon be installed at Axedale Park Axedale by the Friends members, close to and about mid point of the rail trail.

Also planned for Heathcote is a third such station, to service both rail trail users as well as the local community who do not have a Heathcote based bike shop. Centred on Barrack Reserve, this location is close to the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s ‘Trail Head’, with the repair station being generously funded by three local Heathcote community organisations.

Axedale Quick Shear Event and the O’Keefe Rail Trail

Axedale’s major event, the Axedale Quick Shear and Family Fun Day will have a connection with the O’Keefe Rail Trail in 2019. While attending this popular event, there will also be the opportunity to find out the latest updates on the O’Keefe Rail Trail and Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail’s developments, as well as more information about the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group.

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members in Albury NSW

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members social activity, Albury NSW

By adding the Axedale Quick Shear & Family Fun Day to your calendar for 23rd February, the market area will have a Rail Trail Information Stand display with members of the group available. By becoming a member of this active community group, such encourages involvement in social activities linked to trail cycling and walking, plus much more.

Wondering how you will get to this Axedale event? Of course cycling or walking along the O’Keefe Rail Trail is definitely a great way to enjoy the local natural environment, while being away from busy road traffic. The bonus is that the trail also gets you directly to the event site!

U3A Connects with Rail Trail

The O’Keefe Rail Trail attracts all age groups, so it is no surprise that the U3A Bendigo Bushwalking group utilise this popular trail for planned walks. For the unaware, the acronym U3A stands for the University for the Third Age, and it is all about shared learning in mature years.

On 13 December, 15 members of the group gathered at the Axedale Park, although stormy weather was threatening their planned walk on the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Not to be deterred, the members set off to enjoy the natural environment that the trail provides. It wasn’t long before the umbrellas were out, as the walkers neared the former Axedale railway station area on the trail.

Bendigo U3A Walking Group. O'Keefe Rail Trail Axedale. 15 Dec 2018

Bendigo U3A Walking Group. O’Keefe Rail Trail, Axedale. 15 Dec 2018. Photo: Joy Clusker

Here an inspection of the historic railway wagon recalled some past memories, such as standing on similar station platforms waiting for a steam train or observing shunting of such wagons.

U3A member Graeme Balaam inspects the railway wagon. 15 Dec 2018

U3A member Graeme Balaam inspects the railway wagon. 15 Dec 2018. Photo Joy Clusker

With thunder and lightning occurring in the distance, this prompted an unplanned turnaround back to Axedale. Nearing the Park, and having walked for about one hour, it was most likely the thought of a coffee at the Axedale Tavern that quickened the return walking pace!

Even though it had rained, all the members enjoyed the scenery and how well the trail was maintained. The group also came across a couple of cyclists while on the trail, who cheerfully shared the path with the walkers. More information about the U3A Bendigo Inc can be found on their web page.

Thanks Strathfieldsaye & Districts Community Enterprise

Community helping community can equate to great outcomes for many! Such has seen the Strathfieldsaye & Districts Community Enterprise supporting further development of the O’Keefe Rail Trail user facilities, through the awarding of a 2018 community grant. This grant will see two bike repair stations installed along this popular rail trail in the near future by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group, at Axedale and Junortoun.

Community Grant presentation by Kat Charmas, Sec S&DCE 9 Dec 2018

Community Grant presentation by Kat Charmas, Sec S&DCE – 9 Dec 2018

These bike stations will provide a rack for working on a bike, related tools, and also an internal air pump to inflate tyres. Locating these strategically along the trail, the bike repair stations can assist to get that troublesome bike back ready to ride, rather than the possibility of a long walk or trying to seek back up transport.

Whether its a cycling tourist or local riders in need, this initiative by the Friends group will become a win win in adding to this rail trail’s support services and facilities.