Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Community

‘Trails and Ales’ for The O’Keefe Challenge Ride

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

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

Bicycle Network Supports Rail Trail Development

Connecting the Melbourne trail network directly into regional central Victoria, via safe off-road trails proposal has the full support of Bicycle Network. The key missing link is the Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail proposal.

Seeing first hand the enthusiastic work by community groups, like Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, Mitchell Bicycle User Group and Bike Bendigo, who are involved with this proposal had Bicycle Network’s CEO Craig Richards amazed. “What this would do for bike riding in Victoria is extraordinary” said Craig, from his recent visit to Bendigo and the O’Keefe Rail Trail. The network linking of the O’Keefe trail, the Goldfields Track, and a proposed Heathcote to Murchison Trail would open up many opportunities to explore wine regions and country hospitality for cyclists and walkers.

BN Logo

Bicycle Network’s newsroom article Friends of the rail trail show the way tells how passionate community groups support improving the health and wellbeing of their communities, as well as small businesses involved with the active tourism market. With the City of Greater Bendigo council and Mitchell Shire council supporting the rail trail proposal, a staged development of this linking trail will depend upon support and funding by the Victorian State government.

Bike Repair Station for Rail Trail

Help for cyclists needing to fix their bike on the O’Keefe Rail Trail has just been installed, perhaps a first for a rail trail in Australia! The provision of a Bike Repair Station has been the initiative of Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group, with funding for two units due to the support provided by Strathfieldsaye and Districts Community Enterprise. (refer: 15 Dec 2018 Friends’ web News post).

Bike Repair Station tested by member Les Lewis for O'Keefe Rail Trail users. Photo: G.Long

O’Keefe Rail Trail’s Bike Repair Station tested by member Les Lewis. Photo: G.Long

A second funded repair station will soon be installed at Axedale Park Axedale by the Friends members, close to and about mid point of the rail trail.

Also planned for Heathcote is a third such station, to service both rail trail users as well as the local community who do not have a Heathcote based bike shop. Centred on Barrack Reserve, this location is close to the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s ‘Trail Head’, with the repair station being generously funded by three local Heathcote community organisations.

Axedale Quick Shear Event and the O’Keefe Rail Trail

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 in Albury NSW

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!

U3A Connects with Rail Trail

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

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

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.

Thanks Strathfieldsaye & Districts Community Enterprise

Community helping community can equate to great outcomes for many! Such has seen the Strathfieldsaye & Districts Community Enterprise supporting further development of the O’Keefe Rail Trail user facilities, through the awarding of a 2018 community grant. This grant will see two bike repair stations installed along this popular rail trail in the near future by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group, at Axedale and Junortoun.

Community Grant presentation by Kat Charmas, Sec S&DCE 9 Dec 2018

Community Grant presentation by Kat Charmas, Sec S&DCE – 9 Dec 2018

These bike stations will provide a rack for working on a bike, related tools, and also an internal air pump to inflate tyres. Locating these strategically along the trail, the bike repair stations can assist to get that troublesome bike back ready to ride, rather than the possibility of a long walk or trying to seek back up transport.

Whether its a cycling tourist or local riders in need, this initiative by the Friends group will become a win win in adding to this rail trail’s support services and facilities.

Councillor reflects on “Rail Trail Tourism”

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 –

A year in review and still more to come!

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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!

Cycling Tourists at AGM

Travelling as a cycle tourist was the theme at the Friends’ AGM held on 16 October, presented by Melbourne based guest speakers Margie Joyce and Neil McKinnon.

Relating their experiences on various touring rides through Europe, more recently in Canada, or within Australia, planning for cycle friendly routes with good signage are of paramount importance. Whether visiting small villages or large cities, the bike computer for navigation and mobile phone web searches for accommodation and meals are key tools. Tips were also highlighted for local tourism operators, seeking to attract the cycling tourist market.

President Garry Long’s annual report outlined the many significant activities in which members had participated, the achievements to upgrade the O’Keefe Rail Trail, and made reference to the Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail proposal’s progress.

Elected Executive 2018-19 and AGM Guest Speakers. 16 Oct 2018

A successful 2018 AGM concludes, reflecting on the informative guest speakers. 16 Oct 2018

The Executive Office bearers for 2018-19 are President Garry Long, Vice President Kevin Thiele, Secretary Paul Ferguson, and Treasurer Colin Campbell.

Being a Cycle Tourist, what you need to know!

What does it mean to be a cycle tourist, how do business tourism operators attract a bigger slice of the fast growing cycle tourism segment? The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail’s upcoming AGM guest speakers will present their personal knowledge on this topic, which will be a chance opportunity to hear of their experiences.

Melbourne based Margie Joyce and Neil McKinnon will share their love of cycling adventurers and what cycle tourists look for, both during the planning stage and whilst on the adventure. Having cycle toured Tasmania, France, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom and Eastern Canada, Margie and Neil are well qualified to convey the needs and experiences of a cycle tourist.

Margie Joyce and Neil McKinnon, cycle touring in Canada

Margie Joyce and Neil McKinnon, cycle touring in Canada 2018

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM will be held on 16th October, 6:45pm start at the Cycling Clubrooms, Tom Flood Centre, Water St Bendigo.

History Photos Sought

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.

Derrinal Railway Station (including Post Office). Approx date 1900

Derrinal Railway Station (including Post Office). Approx date: 1900

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 bendigokilmorerailtrail@gmail.com or sent to Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail at PO Box 578 Bendigo, Vic, 3552.