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