August 20, 2019
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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!
July 25, 2019
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While dressed for a cool Victorian winter’s day, clear blue skies saw members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail (FBKRT) heading out to ride the Castlemaine to Maldon Trail. This 18km trail was opened in 2017, and shares the railway easement with the historic goldfields branch line still used by the Victorian Goldfields Railway (VGR).
The ride arrives at Muckleford Station, as did a VGR train. Photo: Paul Ferguson
While there is an annual event ‘Race The Train’ held, such was not the plan by FBKRT members enjoying the natural environment and observed historic timber railway bridges while riding at a slower pace. After arriving at the Muckleford station, the trail’s mid-point, the group were delighted to observe a family of Spotted Pardalotes near the station seemingly not concerned by a passing tourist steam train.
VGR train to depart Muckleford station for Castlemaine. Photo: Christine Scott
The planned destination of the historic Maldon was reached by the ride group for a well-earned coffee, with lunch had at the historic Kangaroo Hotel while observing the vistas of Victoria’s first notable town. It was then a short ride to the Maldon station to load the bikes onto the VGR steam loco hauled train, for the return trip to Castlemaine. It was agreed the trail was achievable for most riders on MTB or similar gravel bikes, the day really enjoyed and definitely a ride to be repeated.
May 29, 2019
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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
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.
March 25, 2019
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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
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
February 15, 2019
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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 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!
December 21, 2018
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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. 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. 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.
August 1, 2018
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From grandparents to grandchildren, community volunteer participation was the highlight for the 2018 National Tree Day event held at Axedale on Sunday 29 July. This site event was coordinated by Longlea and District Landcare, with support from the City of Greater Bendigo.
Approximately 70 volunteers planted out about 1600 native trees and grasses at the selected Campaspe River Reserve area. National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day combine to make Australia’s largest community tree planting event. aiming to inspire, educate and recruit Australians to actively care for this unique land.
Rail Trail volunteers Zeke, Maika and Mal Ward, Nola Jarvis, Ken Hanson, and Rob Jarvis
With the O’Keefe Rail Trail passing close by the event site, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members assisted other community groups, local school children and individuals for the planting activity. Of course the socially engaging event finished off with a tasty BBQ lunch to be remembered. This new planted area is expected to enhance this river environment, to be enjoyed by rail trail users, fishermen and local walkers in the future years. This may also have a positive impact on the local bird and platypus populations too!
The O’Keefe Challenge certainly gained support from both runners, walkers and cyclists over the April event weekend. While the running events, such as the marathon and half marathon attracted record entries, a new cycling event was conducted for the first time in 2018.
‘Light The Trail’ was a cycling event held on the Friday evening of the popular event weekend. With this event commencing in Axedale at 7pm, cyclists were encouraged to also ‘light up’ themselves and their bikes with coloured decorative lights. The route followed the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale to Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve, a distance of 27.6kms, with cyclists relying only on their bright bike lights to see the trail ahead. While not a race, the lead riders did cover the distance in under 1hr 15mins, while most riders just enjoyed a more leisurely pace!
Some of the very bright ‘Light The Trail’ participants! Photo: G.Long
A section of riders getting ready at the event start, Axedale. Photo: G.Long
A light supper was available for all riders at the finish, as well as a free bus with bike trailer providing transport back to Axedale. And yes, there were some riders who decided to ride the rail trail back to Axedale later that evening ……perhaps to gain just a little more of the great experience that the night event had provided!
April 23, 2018
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The third O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon community organised events attracted 800 individual runners on Sunday 22 April, utilising various sections of the O’Keefe Rail Trail as part of the O’Keefe Challenge.
O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon runners cross Lake Eppalock. Photo: Bendigo Advertiser 22 April 2018
“We are really lucky in Bendigo and Heathcote to have this track, and it’s just so good to be able to share that with people.” said Race Director Nigel Preston. “We finished at the oval in Heathcote for the first time, which was a great setting for the finish.”
The marathon event attracted 114 runners, starting in Junortoun, and 120 entered the half marathon commencing in Knowsley, whilst other participants entered in the 5km, 10km plus the other running and walking events starting in Heathcote.
Bendigo athlete and former triathlete Leon Griffen won the marathon, in a time of two hours and 35 minutes, being a credible time compared with the marathon world record of two hours and two minutes.
“It was his first attempt and Leon did super well,” Mr Preston said. “Our course is pretty tough, there’s varied terrain and gravel surface for most of it, plus the second half is gradually up hill.”
For the first time a ‘Light the Trail’ cycling event was a lead in event on the Friday night, using the O’Keefe Rail Trail and only bike lights. This event proved popular, starting at Axedale and finishing in Heathcote.