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Linking central Victoria via the old railway line
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.
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.
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.
Greater City of Bendigo Councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth’s published blog on 20th October 2018 has made reference to attending the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM and the benefits to be gained from rail trail tourism.
Link to blog –
Cr Wrigglesworth also made reference to the Victorian National Party Deputy Leader Steph Ryan’s announcement to fund the Murchison to Rushworth (Heathcote) Rail Trail, if elected to government in November 2018.
Perhaps there will be a similar announcement made for the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail, by candidates running for the same Victorian State Government elections!
Seeking links to history is what a current community assisted project for the O’Keefe Rail Trail is needing. An interpretive information sign project, funded by the City of Greater Bendigo council and assisted by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, is currently being developed. This project will see a number of information signs placed along the rail trail in the very near future, displaying old photos, information and facts for trail users.
The theme of the project is the former railway, showing how this influenced both community and business/farm development, employment, and how such may have impacted upon the environment.
This project needs your help, and is seeking any historic photos relating to this former ‘Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Railway’ (the Heathcote-Bendigo section 1888-1958), local communities and business life, as well as information connecting individuals and events to this former railway. So check out that old shoe box of grandma’s photos or Uncle’s old photo album, just one photo could tell a real story to many! Copies of photos (or information) can be emailed to email@example.com or sent to Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail at PO Box 578 Bendigo, Vic, 3552.
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.
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 City of Greater Bendigo council thanked its volunteers with a special morning tea held at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre on 24 May, as part of National Volunteer Week.
In 2018, the City has more than 500 volunteers who contribute around 30,000 hours per year to assist delivering important services to the community and the local region.
Some of the enthusiastic Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members joined with others to hear the Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke extend a big “Thank You” to all who were present as well as those who were unable to attend. It was also an opportunity for attendees to meet other volunteers, to hear of their positive contributions being made not only to benefit the local community yet also adding to the experience of visitors to the region.
The Bendigo community’s love of cycling has helped it to snare an award not made to a city outside of the United States, until now.
The Greater Bendigo has become the first community in Australia to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, accredited by CycleLifeHQ.
Bendigo’s silver accreditation recognises Bendigo’s community engagement and bicycle education, the inclusion of bicycle facilities as part of road infrastructure projects, maintenance of off-road cycling facilities and the integration of bicycle planning with community facilities.
The Bicycle Friendly Community accreditation program has been run in the United States for more than two decades by the League of American Bicyclists, with more than 430 Bicycle Friendly Communities recognised in the USA.
Bendigo will also host two major cycling conferences in 2018, cementing its reputation as a leading bike-friendly destination. In October, Bendigo will host the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference and the Bicycle Tourism Conference sponsored by CyclelifeHQ, both of which have never been hosted in Victoria before.
Construction work has begun on building new road underpasses, as part of improving the Bendigo urban off-road trail network. This work will link the Spring Gully Trail to the Bendigo Creek Trail, plus eliminate the hazardous crossing for pedestrians and cyclists on McIvor Road near the historic railway bridge.
The works will result in one underpass constructed under the Abbott St bridge, one under a narrow pedestrian bridge, another under the McIvor Road bridge, plus also under the communications ducts that cross above Back Creek.
This off-road trail extension will also improve the connection between the Bendigo Railway Station and the O’Keefe Rail Trail, for visiting cycling and walking tourists, with only the link between the station platform and Ewing Park now needing to be formalised.
Bike Bendigo and the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community groups had sort improvements at this location, and so welcome the efforts of the City of Greater Bendigo in eliminating the ‘at grade’ crossing of McIvor Rd.
It’s not that long ago when motorists often faced wooden railway gates at road crossings within Melbourne’s metro train network, closed by VR staff to prevent motor vehicles proceeding when trains were scheduled.
Yet who would have guessed that most early regional Victorian Railway (VR) lines also had such gates at many relatively low traffic rural road crossings in the late 19th century. This was so for the original Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst line, built 1888-1890. At that time, each gate installation had a permanent Gate Keeper plus a railway house as well. One such Gate Keeper’s house still remains in Heathcote. Most rural railway gates were removed during the early part of the 20th century.
Seeking to reinstate elements of former railway historical infrastructure, on the now O’Keefe Rail Trail, Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members were keen to obtain a set of original railway gates. After a long search, an old set of stored gates in a poor state were finally located in Melbourne, and then subsequently approved for allocation to the group by PTV. With a City of Greater Bendigo Community Grant awarded, and assistance from Semi Trailer Sales Pty Ltd, Friends member Ken Hanson set about leading a project to rebuild these gates in Bendigo.
With additional assistance from Powercor, Council, Lions Club of Heathcote, and painter John Mead, the 6-metre-long gates were installed with their final coat of paint being applied at Heathcote. This siting was close to an original gates location at Herriot St, near the former Heathcote Railway Station.
The gates now provide a ‘safe’ pathway for trail users into the Lions Club’s rail trail shelter area, a great place to meet people, and enjoy what the O’Keefe Rail Trail now has to offer.
The O’Keefe Rail Trail is the focus of a project to install nest boxes along a section of the trail, for Brush-tailed Phascogales (Tuans) and Sugar Gliders. These new nest boxes, built by students at Catholic College Bendigo, should become homes to these small threatened animals in the trail reserve’s natural environment.
The location for these boxes is along the O’Keefe Rail Trail, between Knul-doorong Woodland (Somerset Park Rd) and the Junortoun Flora and Fauna Reserve (Trotting Tce) Junortoun. Funding for the project has been provided by a City of Greater Bendigo Council’s Community Grant, awarded to the Junortoun Community Action Group
The public can witness the boxes being installed, which is to occur on Monday 24th April at 2:15pm at the O’Keefe Rail Trail crossing on Wilkie Road Junortoun.
The Wallan to Heathcote feasibility study’s community feedback stage is drawing to a close. The final date for feedback is 5pm Monday 10th April, therefore members of the various communities that are likely to benefit from such a trail, or individuals who would like to raise any points of view, plus general trail users, are all encouraged to complete the feedback form.
This feedback can easily be completed on the Engaging Mitchell web page’s ‘Complete form‘ link.
Further information can also be obtained from http://wp.me/ptMbe-2kM