Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Axedale Racecourse platform reincarnated

Last year we started on a recreation of the Rifle Butts platform. Once again, a lot of sweat on the part of the Friends and more generous business support saw a representative platform created near where it once was located. (You’ll find it just east of Pratts Park Road and Rifle Range Rd, Bendigo East.)

Not content to rest on his historical infrastructure re-creation laurels, Ken Hanson convinced the Friends that the Axedale Racecourse platform would be the next project. This platform was not part of the original railway construction carried out by Andrew O’Keefe in 1888. But picnic trains to the races were so popular that local lobbying saw this  platform built around 1910. Although it was originally approximately 400 feet long (122 m), it disappeared after the line was closed and even the locals didn’t remember where it was. The Friends rediscovered its location when some members were seeking historical connections with the former railway line and the rail trail.

It’s not back in all its glorious 400 feet, but a section of the platform’s ‘facing’ has now been rebuilt to  its original height. It really gives you a feel for where you’d have stepped off the train in sartorial splendour with your picnic basket to go to the races.

Four men shovelling fill behind the new platform facing while another measures in the foreground

Down and dirty: members of the Friends shovel fill behind the new facing at the Axedale Racecourse platform. Project director, Ken Hanson, is measuring up in the foreground.

Friends plan a visit to High Country Rail Trail

It’s not all hard work digging post holes and shovelling fill as a member of the Friends. We often plan trips to check out other rail trails.

In April (Saturday 20 and Sunday 21) we’re heading off to ride the High Country Rail Trail from Ebden to Tallangatta/Old Tallangatta. The ride follows the edge of Lake Hume and goes across the new, but already-iconic, Sandy Creek bridge. We’re planning to stay at the Boathaven Holiday Park, Ebden (the Bonegilla end of the trail),  where there is the option of camping or booking a cabin.

If you’re a member of the Friends and would like to join the trip, please contact us with an expression of interest before 29 March and we’ll send you more details as plans are firmed up.

If you’re not a member, this might just tempt you to join us! See the link to the membership application form on our home page.

Sandy Creek bridge

We will be riding over the stunning Sandy Creek Bridge over Lake Hume when we visit the High Country Rail Trail. (Yes, we admit it, rail trail people always get excited about bridges.) This photo from John Miller’s High Country Rail Trail photo stream on FlickR.

Clean Up Australia Day cleans up the creek

This year the Friends tackled the area of Bendigo Creek, the Bendigo Creek Trail, and  a short section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Forty-one people, including  members of Northern Bendigo Landcare, got together with gloves and rubbish bags and – unfortunately – collected lots of rubbish (Where does all the rubbish come from that ends up in the creek anyway?) By the time we finished, it all looked much better and now we have a connection to a rail trail that we are proud of!

Six members of the Friends at the registration marquee

Start here for a cleaner Bendigo Creek. Members of the Friends
at the registration marquee for Clean Up Australia Day.

Trail upgrades in Junortoun

As well as extending the trail, the City of Greater Bendigo has also been upgrading the existing trail surface, to repair the likes of stormwater damage hazards etc. Lately, they’ve been working in Bendigo East and the Junortoun area, between Markovich Lane and Bennetts Road. The results are impressive – congratulations to council.

The Friends and trail users have highlighted a number of the trail sections that require maintenance upgrades, so we hope the Bendigo councillors will approve adequate funds for trail maintenance in the 2013-14 budget.

Bob cat, work ute near the newly surfaced trail

Upgrade: works underway on surface maintenance at
Junortoun are impressive.

Submission to Mitchell Shire’s 2013-2017 Council Plan

Way back in January, the Friends and Mitchell BUG prepared a submission to the Mitchell Shire Council recommending that it include plans for a new Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail in its council plan for the next four years.

Specifically we asked the council to seek funding for a feasibility study for the Mitchell Shire part of the trail and to open dialogue with the City of Greater Bendigo and the state government. And we asked them to think really big …

“A long distance trail,” we said, “between Wandong and Heathcote linking up with the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Bendigo will significantly enhance the attractiveness of existing trails by becoming a link in a network of regionally important trails. Such a network would improve the attractiveness and usage of the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail and generate significant flow-on economic benefits. The trail would only be about 30 km short of linking the whole regional trail network to Melbourne’s trail network via the Craigieburn Trail. Such an ambitious vision needs to be kept in mind now while planning other trails, to ensure their future feasibility.”

Now, we wait to see whether the vision is adopted.

Mile post gets a make-over

As far as we know, there was only one mile post still standing when the works on the trail extension began. Number 96 had weathered the winds of change, but was looking a bit tired compared with all the new mile posts that have been installed recently. So Ken Hanson got out with a couple of pots of paint and gave it a spruce-up. (Ken’s the bloke in the hat and fluro shirt behind the camera.)

Newly painted number 96 milepost

Trail training for Oxfam walk

In January, the O’Keefe Rail Trail played host to Captain Walksalot and the Blister Sisters – four nurses from Bendigo Health who are training for the Oxfam Trailwalker in April. The 100 km walk over 48 hours raises money to help overcome poverty and injustice around the world. After their training walk, Megan sent us a note which said in part:

“Have only recently discovered this walk when looking for training walks around our area in preparation for the Oxfam Trailwalker in April. We’ll definitely be doing the BKRT again as a part of our training. Started at 0615, done by 1100hrs.  Happy with our efforts, hoping to improve though. Thanks for providing the trail – more people need to know about this and I will be telling all I know. Would be awesome for a bike ride too!”

Yep, we think so too. Good luck to the team.

If you want to contribute to Megan and her team’s fundraising efforts you can go to their team page on the Oxfam Trailwalker web site.

Where did all the stations go?

There’s not a great deal of all the stations that used to dot the railway line. You’d have been hard pressed to even know where most of the stations were – until now.

A long-term project of the Friends has been to install reproduction station signs along the route. Now you can see where six stations used to be located:

  • Rifle Butts
  • Rangelea
  • Strathfieldsaye
  • Longlea
  • Axedale
  • Heathcote

The six signs were funded by a City of Greater Bendigo community grant and a contribution from the Friends – as well as a lot of planning, post hole digging, concrete mixing and bolt-welding on the part of the Friends.

Check them out!

Four men wearing orange safety vests mixing concrete

Closest to Bendigo is Rifle Butts on the reproduction platform also built by the Friends.

Five men in orange safety vests installing a very long station sign

Who named this place? Strathfieldsaye was so long it caused all sorts of logistical troubles.

Six men in orange safety vests lined up underneath Heathcote station sign

At the end of the line – or is that just the middle?

Have your say on Hume trails – including our rail trail

Ever visited a trail in the Hume region? Twelve councils, Hume Regional Development Australia and the Victorian Government are working on a trails strategy for the region. It’s looking at developing exsiting trails and the potential of new trails for walking, cycling, mountain biking and horse riding.

Have your say on what you’d like to see by filling in the survey before 7 December. Takes between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on how much you want to say.

Don’t forget to mention the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail – it sits within the Hume region!

Christmas ride to Axedale finishes the year

A small group set off from Lake Weroona last Sunday on a festive ride to Axedale for lunch. With those who met us out there, we have nine at Axedale Tavern for lunch. The food and service was great at the Tavern. Although being such a warm day, the full bellies after lunch made for a slower return trip. We did make sure to travel on all the new trails at Axedale and they got a very large tick of approval. Of course the new bridges completed earlier in the year now make it a very pleasant ride from Bendigo to Axedale.

Bicycle riders collecting their bikes near tables at the Axedale Tavern

Parking at the door: the Axedale Tavern provide great food and service – and parking right near the outside tables.