Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Plan ahead during COVID19 Restrictions

For local residents using the O’Keefe Rail Trail for exercise during the COVID19 restrictions, you do need to plan ahead. This is in regards to accessing drinking water whilst out on the trail. With the available water stations located at Lake Weeroona Bendigo, Bennetts Rd Longlea, Axedale Park Axedale and Heathcote now having warning signs placed on them by council, these signs indicate not to use these stations for drinking water during the current restrictions.

O'Keefe Rail Trail water station notice 2 Apr 2020 Photo: Les Lewis

O’Keefe Rail Trail water station notice. 2 Apr 2020 Photo: Les Lewis

Therefore O’Keefe Rail Trail users are encouraged to take sufficient water with you, for the whole duration while out exercising along this trail.

Bicycle Network has the following advice for bike riding. This advice was last updated on Wednesday 1 April 2020 and assumes that you are not sick or self-isolating. Guidelines can also vary from state to state.

  • You can go for a ride by yourself, with one other person, or with people that you live with. You should adhere to physical distancing guidelines and stay 1.5 metres apart if riding with someone you don’t live with.
  • Do not go on any group, organised training or bunch rides.
  • In some states it is now an offence to ride in groups and you can be fined by police, as per prohibited gatherings rules or stay at home guidelines.
  • Riding a bike to the supermarket, chemist or work is ok and a good thing to do. We should be limiting our trips away from home, so consider going for a longer ride and finishing at the shops or work so you get the 30 minutes of exercise adults need each day (for children and young people it’s 60 minutes of activity).
  • If you’re working from home and going for a ride to get your daily exercise you should avoid stopping and be mindful of where you place your helmet, glasses, gloves etc. Keep them with your bike or on your person rather than placing them down somewhere.
  • When you return from a ride, wash your hands thoroughly and wipe down your bike, helmet and any gear.
  • Keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from any other person you see while out on your bike.

If you’re self-isolating and feeling well, set up a stationary bike with an indoor trainer if you’ve got one.

Trail Improvements for User Safety

While out exercising on the O’Keefe Rail Trail during COVID19 restrictions as a local resident, have you experienced the upgraded section of the trail close to Axedale? This aging 27 year old degraded trail section, with several potential hazards for users, has been a concern of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group for some time. With recent trail works undertaken by the City of Greater Bendigo council and its contractor M. Monigatti (Bendigo), focused on this Axedale section, the outcome has resulted in a significantly safer trail.

Upgraded trail section, Taig Rd Axedale. Mar 2020. Photo G. Long

As well as upgrading the trail’s formation plus the drainage and the trail surface, these works have also provided a greater trail separation from one specific concrete electricity pole, improved the trail approaches to the Hickey Rd crossing, and realignment of the trail’s crossing of a water channel.

Trail improvements – water channel crossing. Axedale Mar 2020. Photo G.Long

The improved outcomes are welcomed and are expected to be enjoyed by regular O’Keefe Rail Trail users and visitors, as well as being appreciated by the Axedale Primary School with it’s bike education program for students.

COVID19 Restrictions while Exercising

The COVID19 restrictions in Australia have impacted certain activities, such as closing outdoor gyms and boot camps etc. Public gatherings are being restricted, refer Department of Health for the latest information for your State.

Communities are being asked to stay at home where possible, except for essential activities like obtaining food and employment commitments. For the health and wellbeing of individuals, daily exercise is being encouraged while social distancing is being observed. Many will be asking themselves where can they exercise locally, while maintaining at least the 1.5m separation required?

Increasing numbers of family members and individuals are choosing to cycle, walk or run in their local neighbourhood, large public recreation areas and along trails. Like many, Justin and Brianna Maddern decided their local O’Keefe Rail Trail was a safe place, a means for their family to exercise in a natural environment.

The Maddern Family out exercising, O’Keefe trail. Photo G.Long 28 Mar 2020

Crossing the rail trail’s Axe Creek bridge while running at pace, Justin had his daughter Lilah peddling hard in keeping up with her dad, while mum Brianna was cycling with their daughter Sylvie tucked into the bike’s child seat enjoying the family’s activity.

Cycling on the O’Keefe Rail Trail. 28 March 2020. Photo G.Long

Cycling couples and individuals were being observed on the O’Keefe trail, while social distancing is easily able to take place on this popular trail. Take-away coffee facilities for trail users at Junortoun (McIvor Hwy crossing), Axedale and Heathcote add to the experience, perhaps as a well earned rest stop for some!

Of course the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail encourage first time and regular users of O’Keefe Rail Trail to provide feedback of their experience. This feedback can be easily be provided using the on-line O’Keefe Rail Trail User Feedback form, which may only take less than 10 minutes of your time.

Stay in touch, stay well

While these are unstable times, it is important to stay in touch with your friends and community.

With restrictions due to the COVID19 virus, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus. While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety

Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – do you best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic

Show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other

Actively manage your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active, eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support as required.

Keep in touch with Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail news posts. One means of being up-to-date is to enter your email address on the home page, click ‘Follow’ (then acknowledge sent email) and you will be emailed a brief alert when each news article is posted on-line (otherwise how would you know?). Wondering how do you do this, where do you enter your email address? See below –

How to stay alert of Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail web ‘News’ posts – Home page

Uncertain about the various tabs on the Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail web page? Most have a drop down menu, so do explore each of these –

Home page and tab functions highlighted

Looking for your rail trail feedback!

Perhaps you have just discovered what many have known about for years, the attractive O’Keefe Rail Trail in central Victoria! Yet there are also those who live in the local area and often think “I must check out the O’Keefe trail one day!”

Well as a local, who doesn’t need to undertake any unnecessary travel, perhaps now is the time to do just that. Pull on your walking shoes, or dust off that bike in the shed and head out onto the O’Keefe for some exercise or soak up the natural atmosphere. Then after having a take-away coffee, could you give some feedback on your experience of using this fantastic public recreation facility?

Click on this LINK (the same as is on this web’s home page) and complete the O’Keefe Rail Trail User Feedback survey, it may only take you about 5-10 minutes! We would love to hear from you, so that our community group can better understand the trail, about what you enjoyed, and ideas that you think will improve experiences in the future.

Take-Away Coffee while on the O’Keefe Rail Trail

With the current imposed Government restrictions on communities, caused by the COVID19 pandemic, encouraging people to stay home, its important to also to do an amount of exercise. Exercising is good for the body’s health and mind, as well as improving its immunity.

While gyms and other public venues are closed, the O’Keefe Rail Trail is still open 24/7 with free access! The trail is a great place to exercise, to enjoy a peaceful natural environment, while having lots of social distancing possible over the trail’s 50km length.

And another bonus is to get a take-away coffee, while out on the trail in the Junortoun area, the Axedale General Store and Axedale Tavern’s cafe and Heathcote’s cafes. A new coffee van ‘Coffee Storm‘ has just set up in the Junortoun area, at the Bendigo Baptist Church car park, McIvor Hwy Junortoun, open 7 days a week 8am – 12.30pm.

A new coffee van outlet is now on the O’Keefe Rail Trail in Junortoun

So while things may be looking a little dark for many people right at the moment, one option is to put on your walking or running shoes, pump up the bike tyres, and head out to exercise on the O’Keefe Rail Trail……and while out on the trail, take some time out to have a take-away coffee!

Regional Roads Victoria studies the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s traffic

Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) is conducting a study for the McIvor Highway in the Longlea and Junortoun area. What part will the O’Keefe Rail Trail and its user traffic play in this study’s outcomes?

During this month of March, RRV will be counting the number of pedestrians and cyclists within the Junortoun area through which this highway passes. The active transport study will assess the typical journeys of pedestrians and cyclists, to help understand how people travel and where they might be going. Such is expected to help RRV better understand where people choose to go in the future, especially if there were to be improved paths, crossings, underpasses, and on-road lanes to provide safer access.

As an O’Keefe Rail Trail user you shouldn’t be worried, as RRV is using a number of ways to record travel information therefore such will not identify individual people.

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail have indicated to RRV and the City of Greater Bendigo, the future need for a trail underpass at the crossing point of this highway. It is assumed that such a study will highlight the current commuter and recreational user traffic on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, especially at that point where trail users need to cross this highway with its increasingly busy traffic.

https://regionalroads.vic.gov.au/map/northern-improvements/mcivor-highway-development-project

https://www.facebook.com/524800840985926/posts/1837380126394651/

Lockington to Kotta Rail Trail Fun Run

**EVENT POSTPONED** Bet you would love to support this community event, the Kotta to Lockington Fun Run (or walk) on Saturday 28 March, 10am start. It should be fun!! https://www.facebook.com/Kotta-to-Lockington-Rail-Trail-Fun-Run-114326600119816/?refid=12

Railway Wagon Returns to Rail Trail

A proud day for the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members, to finally have the only locally manufactured item of heritage railway rolling stock now on public display in the Bendigo area. This wagon was transported under the watchful eye of the Friends’ project committee members to Axedale by heavy road transport, due the wagon’s size and 9 ton weight, and then placed as a static display on the O’Keefe Rail Trail at Axedale.

While previously locally stored steam engine locos and rolling stock, manufactured and/or serviced by former local Victorian Railways employees having been scrapped or ‘given away’ by council, this wagon is now the only specific reminder of the economic importance that this industry had on the Bendigo region. The involvement of BRW (Bendigo Railway Workshops) company staff with the restoration, funded by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group, has also been greatly appreciated.

With years of rough working treatment, followed by decades of rust and neglect after being removed from Victorian Railway’s rolling stock, much work was required to bring this wagon back to its original look, markings and its “wagon red’ paint finish.

Railway 4-wheel wagon HY16625 placed at the replica Axedale Railway Station platform. Photo: Colin Scott Mar 2020

Ride with Bicycle Network on Bendigo Trails

Bicycle Network joins Bendigo Saturday bike riders on Saturday 14 March, with Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members assisting the BN staff to catch-up with local riders. Come join in one of the rides, to have a chat about what would make it easier for you to ride? Select one of these ride options, roll up for the ride and let Bicycle Network know what regional Victorian riders need support for.

BN LogoRide Details:

Ride #1: Friends of Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail members will lead a partially off-road ride, with Bicycle Network staff joining the ride group departing 7.30am sharp from Spring Gully Cricket Oval carpark (Spring Gully Road). This easy pace 21km ride will include the Back Creek Trail, part of the Bendigo Creek Trail, part of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, a sealed trail through the Greater Bendigo National Park, plus some selected urban streets to return the group to the Bath Lane area at approx. 9.15–9.30am.


Ride #2:
Bicycle Network reps will be joining the Bendigo road ride groups, which meet at the ‘Sternberg St roundabout’ (corner Townsend and Somerville Streets). The reps will be joining the ‘7.15s’ and ‘7.30s’ groups departing at 7.15am and 7.30am. Hop in if you’d like to both enjoy the ride and also to have a chat.

Post-ride ‘Coffee n Chat’: All rides will return to cafes in the Bath Lane area for coffee and muffins (courtesy of Bicycle Network) where Bicycle Network staff will be also happy to chat with riders.