Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Railway Wagon Restoration Progresses

The restoration of the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s heritage railway wagon has progressed, under the watchful eye of Bendigo Railway Workshops’ (BRW) Alan Nicolson and Mark Birchmore. Sandblasting of the known areas of metal rust corrosion has revealed that overall the wagon is structurally sound, although with some plate sections being affected by severe rust.

The extent of metal corrosion was not unexpected, due partly to the likes of bulk material such as superphosphate or open to rainwater laying inside these wagons for extended periods while stationary in railway sidings. Then for this wagon, what followed was decades of being stored in Gippsland, unused, until the wagon was allocated by PTV and retrieved from the Kurumburra Station yards.

To date the work has involved sandblasting the severely rusted sections, replacement steel plates welding into the internal floor, as well as the tarp stanchions being straightened under heat.

Inspecting work progress being undertaken by BRW. 18 Dec 2019. Photo: Rob Jarvis

The aim of the project is to restore the wagon to as near as possible to its original design specifications, with components such as the existing wheels being changed out for spoke cast wheels, repainting from the later Hansa Yellow to the original VR Wagon Red colour, and then finally applying the white identifiable VR markings.

Its Nearly Christmas, enjoying Dinner with a Moonlight Ride

A Christmas Moonlight Ride in Bendigo was again enjoyed by the ‘young’ girls and boys of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail last Saturday. Riding from Spring Gully to White Hills, fun was had along the off-road Spring Gully Trail, Back Crk Trail, and Bendigo Crk Trail, while the riders’ excitement was growing. Nearing their destination, they went searching in the Bendigo Botanical Gardens for Santa’s reindeers who might have been there grazing, before the rider group dined with the non-riders at the Botanical Hotel.

Bendigo Botanical Gardens, Moonlight Ride 2019. Photo: Kevin Thiele

On the return ride, a visit to the Garden of the Future’s events stage didn’t find Santa awaiting with gifts, as these ‘young’ riders had forgotten to send off their Santa wish list letters!! With the lure of supper on their minds, wearing hi-vis colours and with bright bike lights, the riders headed towards the South (Pole?) hoping to see the promised full moon. A diversion around Lake Weeroona, with the lights dancing upon the water, their bike headlights showing the way along Bendigo’s popular off-road urban trails as they headed for Spring Gully.

Finally, there was the enjoyment of a fruit cake supper at the Kevin and Linda’s residence, while it was joked that Santa must have opted for other transport that night and was probably having just as much fun on his bike!

Missing??

Have you been out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail recently and wondering where it has gone? What is missing? The historic railway wagon, previously relocated from the Korumburra station and placed at the former Axedale Railway Station site on the O’Keefe Rail Trail in 2018, has been removed.

The company BRW (Bendigo Railway Workshops), which is located at the former Victorian Railways North Bendigo Railway Workshops, is enthusiastic to be working with the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group to restore this ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon. The wagon was transported by A2B Move It P/L to BRW this week. The planned work is intended to, as near as possible, return the wagon to its original condition when wagons were manufactured in the former VR railway workshops during the late 1950s.

The ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon being delivered to BRW Bendigo. Photo: Rob Jarvis

This wagon’s original ‘spoke’ wheels had previously been replaced by the later ‘full disc’ type. With a set of the ‘spoke’ wheels located, and kindly made available by the Central Victorian Goldfields Railway, these wheels were then transported to BRW and will be installed on this wagon.

A set of ‘spoke’ type railway wheels are delivered to BRW. Photo: Ken Hanson

Stay tuned for news updates on the restoration of this wagon, which will be returned to Axedale as the only item of historic railway rolling stock on public display in the Greater Bendigo area.

O’Keefe Rail Trail – Section Closure

The Lake Eppalock section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail will be closed to the public from Monday 25th November to Friday 8th December, 6am to 6pm daily for track upgrade works.

O’Keefe Rail Trail section to be closed

This work will address the damage caused to the trail in 2016 when the lake’s water level exceeded the 100% full level. At that time, closure of the trail was required until the water level receded and council was able to carry out minor works to then allow safe access for trail users.

As no major repair/upgrade works followed, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail made a submission to the Council’s 2019-20 budget, to have restoration and upgrading works carried out on the trail’s causeway across Lake Eppalock. As a result of this submission, budget cover was provided enabling this planned work to now take place.

The City of Greater Bendigo council apologizes for any inconvenience that this closure may cause.

Join The Crew!

Heathcote was the place to ‘Join the Crew’ last weekend, an event that brought both volunteers and the public together. It was a chance to connect with some of the community groups linked to Heathcote, as well as find out what’s happening locally.

Some of the Friends members with Mayor Margaret O’Rourke

The Friends group was directly involved, having an information stand to both explain the benefits of extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail, as well as encouraging new membership.

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail info stand

This event was the initative of local resident and journalist Vanessa Wiltshire, with profits being donated to the Heathcote Dementia Alliance.

Interested in Railway History?

Rail trails evoke the interest of many people, some for their health and wellbeing/fitness, some exploring and experiencing the local natural environment or food/wine, while others seek out elements relating to the former railway. To assist with exploring such railway history, this Friends’ web pages have a separate page telling some of the history relating to the former Victorian Railway’s cross country ‘Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst‘ railway that one section closed in 1958 and the last in 1968.

Railway construction, believed to be at Axedale Racecourse Platform. Photo: ‘Axedale Railway Line 01_BHS1265’

That page ‘Railway history‘ has recently been updated, with some additional new photos and text. Of course some may say history is just a combination of stories and lies that people have agreed upon! While this compiled page may possibly have some elements of this, corrections with related supporting information are always welcomed.

The recently installed eleven new interpretive information signs, placed at various points of interest along the O’Keefe Rail Trail are impressive, which are definitely a must see!

Do you know of any related ‘stories’, perhaps the whereabouts of an historical photo of the Axedale Railway Station, or the name of the chap with the bowler hat in the photo above? If so, we would love to know about such or receive a copy of any related railway photos.

Age No Barrier for Bicycle Riders

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 ride also finished with another popular activity, having coffees and social 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’!

 

L-R: Kevin Thiele (past VP), Colin Campbell, Craig Richards, Colin Scott, Garry Long at the AGM

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.