Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Community

World Bicycle Day

We may not be able to ride together as ‘normal’* during these uncertain times, but we can still

stay connected through our love of bike riding.

Jump on your bike Wednesday 3rd June for #WorldBicycleDay and send through a snap of your ride to show that we are a nation of bike riders. #JustRide #BicycleNetwork – https://bit.ly/2WLTnpB

*Note: As of 1 June, riding in groups up to 20 riders is allowed in Victoria (refer Dept of Health https://bit.ly/2M54rbr For other States, please refer to that State’s Health Dept COVID19 advice)

Trail Becomes More Popular

The local communities along the O’Keefe Rail Trail have embraced the use of this trail during the current COVID19 restrictions. Both individuals, friends and families have been observed cycling, walking and running at various sections of the trail while maintaining ‘social distancing’.

Cyclists and walkers using the O’Keefe Rail Trail, Junortoun. 22 May Photo: G.Long

Whether accessing the trail from other linked trails, such as the Bendigo Creek Trail, or driving to one of the trail’s various carparks, people have been out exercising away from the ‘stay at home’ restrictions imposed. Local bike retailers have been swamped with bike repairs and new sales, such seeing family members out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail in a natural environment and away from motor vehicle road traffic .

A family out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail. 22 May Photo: G.Long

Trail traffic counters located on Bendigo area trails have seen an average of 100-120% increase in recent usage. Specifically, the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s cycling traffic count for March 2020 had seen an increase of 1000 cycle users (up 150%) on March 2019, and an even higher 190% increase for cycling during April 2020 compared with April 2019. With some users indicating that they were only aware of this rail trail for the very first time, it is expected that the increases in use of the trail will continue for both recreational exercise or commuting.

Trail Options to Explore

The Greater Bendigo area has many formal trails that await to be explored. While some of these trails are great for sharing a short walk or brief bike ride within urban areas, ie the Mulga Bill Trail, Back Creek Trail, there are other trails that allow for more challenging exercise over a greater distance i.e. O’Keefe Rail Trail or the Goldfields Track.

Back Creek Trail’s bridge art, Bendigo. Photo: Mar 2018 Garry Long

If an all-weather asphalt surfaced trail is the priority, then the Bendigo Creek Trail, Long Gully Trail, Back Creek Trail and Spring Gully Trail are some of the options available. Not only do many urban trails reveal ‘hidden’ points of interest, like under-bridge public art not able to be easily seen from urban streets, some trails enable a close connection with local lakes/reservoirs. The Grassy Flat Creek Trail, the Bendigo Creek Trail and Mulga Bill Trail link directly with local water recreational locations.

Grassy Flat Creek Trail, Kennington Reservoir, Strathdale. Photo: Feb 2020 Garry Long

More trail options and details can be found on this Friends’ web page ‘Local trail options, and on Bendigo Tourism’s web ‘Outdoors & Nature‘ page.

 

Reflecting upon the Past and the Present

Being able to take time out, while out exercising and exploring the O’Keefe Rail Trail, to reflect upon elements of history and also more recent rail trail activity is one of the options currently available to trail users.

O’Keefe Rail Trail interpretive sign “The Timber Line”. March 2020. Photo. Garry Long

With eleven (11) interpretive signs placed at various locations along the rail trail, these signs show reflective historical photos that allow the stories about the former railway’s connections to ‘come to life’. Past activities like wood cutting, loading hay or testing of locally manufactured guns of war, plus more recent links with the rail trail’s development, can take a reader back into a different place in time!

O’Keefe Rail Trail interpretive sign “Marking the Distance”. March 2020. Photo. Garry Long

These signs were an initiative of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group, assisted by funding provided by the City of Greater Bendigo. The collaborative project team of Friends members and Council staff appreciated the support and material provided by various public members and historical sources, to achieve this overall quality outcome.

O’Keefe Rail Trail interpretive sign “Serving the Military”. March 2020. Photo. Garry Long

Some of the researched and selected historic photos plus related information now on display, would not have been readily available previously for viewing by the general public.

 

Trail Improvements for User Safety

While out exercising on the O’Keefe Rail Trail during COVID19 restrictions as a local resident, have you experienced the upgraded section of the trail close to Axedale? This aging 27 year old degraded trail section, with several potential hazards for users, has been a concern of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group for some time. With recent trail works undertaken by the City of Greater Bendigo council and its contractor M. Monigatti (Bendigo), focused on this Axedale section, the outcome has resulted in a significantly safer trail.

Upgraded trail section, Taig Rd Axedale. Mar 2020. Photo G. Long

As well as upgrading the trail’s formation plus the drainage and the trail surface, these works have also provided a greater trail separation from one specific concrete electricity pole, improved the trail approaches to the Hickey Rd crossing, and realignment of the trail’s crossing of a water channel.

Trail improvements – water channel crossing. Axedale Mar 2020. Photo G.Long

The improved outcomes are welcomed and are expected to be enjoyed by regular O’Keefe Rail Trail users and visitors, as well as being appreciated by the Axedale Primary School with it’s bike education program for students.

COVID19 Restrictions while Exercising

The COVID19 restrictions in Australia have impacted certain activities, such as closing outdoor gyms and boot camps etc. Public gatherings are being restricted, refer Department of Health for the latest information for your State.

Communities are being asked to stay at home where possible, except for essential activities like obtaining food and employment commitments. For the health and wellbeing of individuals, daily exercise is being encouraged while social distancing is being observed. Many will be asking themselves where can they exercise locally, while maintaining at least the 1.5m separation required?

Increasing numbers of family members and individuals are choosing to cycle, walk or run in their local neighbourhood, large public recreation areas and along trails. Like many, Justin and Brianna Maddern decided their local O’Keefe Rail Trail was a safe place, a means for their family to exercise in a natural environment.

The Maddern Family out exercising, O’Keefe trail. Photo G.Long 28 Mar 2020

Crossing the rail trail’s Axe Creek bridge while running at pace, Justin had his daughter Lilah peddling hard in keeping up with her dad, while mum Brianna was cycling with their daughter Sylvie tucked into the bike’s child seat enjoying the family’s activity.

Cycling on the O’Keefe Rail Trail. 28 March 2020. Photo G.Long

Cycling couples and individuals were being observed on the O’Keefe trail, while social distancing is easily able to take place on this popular trail. Take-away coffee facilities for trail users at Junortoun (McIvor Hwy crossing), Axedale and Heathcote add to the experience, perhaps as a well earned rest stop for some!

Of course the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail encourage first time and regular users of O’Keefe Rail Trail to provide feedback of their experience. This feedback can be easily be provided using the on-line O’Keefe Rail Trail User Feedback form, which may only take less than 10 minutes of your time.

Stay in touch, stay well

While these are unstable times, it is important to stay in touch with your friends and community.

With restrictions due to the COVID19 virus, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus. While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety

Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – do you best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic

Show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other

Actively manage your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active, eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support as required.

Keep in touch with Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail news posts. One means of being up-to-date is to enter your email address on the home page, click ‘Follow’ (then acknowledge sent email) and you will be emailed a brief alert when each news article is posted on-line (otherwise how would you know?). Wondering how do you do this, where do you enter your email address? See below –

How to stay alert of Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail web ‘News’ posts – Home page

Uncertain about the various tabs on the Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail web page? Most have a drop down menu, so do explore each of these –

Home page and tab functions highlighted

Looking for your rail trail feedback!

Perhaps you have just discovered what many have known about for years, the attractive O’Keefe Rail Trail in central Victoria! Yet there are also those who live in the local area and often think “I must check out the O’Keefe trail one day!”

Well as a local, who doesn’t need to undertake any unnecessary travel, perhaps now is the time to do just that. Pull on your walking shoes, or dust off that bike in the shed and head out onto the O’Keefe for some exercise or soak up the natural atmosphere. Then after having a take-away coffee, could you give some feedback on your experience of using this fantastic public recreation facility?

Click on this LINK (the same as is on this web’s home page) and complete the O’Keefe Rail Trail User Feedback survey, it may only take you about 5-10 minutes! We would love to hear from you, so that our community group can better understand the trail, about what you enjoyed, and ideas that you think will improve experiences in the future.

Take-Away Coffee while on the O’Keefe Rail Trail

With the current imposed Government restrictions on communities, caused by the COVID19 pandemic, encouraging people to stay home, its important to also to do an amount of exercise. Exercising is good for the body’s health and mind, as well as improving its immunity.

While gyms and other public venues are closed, the O’Keefe Rail Trail is still open 24/7 with free access! The trail is a great place to exercise, to enjoy a peaceful natural environment, while having lots of social distancing possible over the trail’s 50km length.

And another bonus is to get a take-away coffee, while out on the trail in the Junortoun area, the Axedale General Store and Axedale Tavern’s cafe and Heathcote’s cafes. A new coffee van ‘Coffee Storm‘ has just set up in the Junortoun area, at the Bendigo Baptist Church car park, McIvor Hwy Junortoun, open 7 days a week 8am – 12.30pm.

A new coffee van outlet is now on the O’Keefe Rail Trail in Junortoun

So while things may be looking a little dark for many people right at the moment, one option is to put on your walking or running shoes, pump up the bike tyres, and head out to exercise on the O’Keefe Rail Trail……and while out on the trail, take some time out to have a take-away coffee!

Ride with Bicycle Network on Bendigo Trails

Bicycle Network joins Bendigo Saturday bike riders on Saturday 14 March, with Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members assisting the BN staff to catch-up with local riders. Come join in one of the rides, to have a chat about what would make it easier for you to ride? Select one of these ride options, roll up for the ride and let Bicycle Network know what regional Victorian riders need support for.

BN LogoRide Details:

Ride #1: Friends of Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail members will lead a partially off-road ride, with Bicycle Network staff joining the ride group departing 7.30am sharp from Spring Gully Cricket Oval carpark (Spring Gully Road). This easy pace 21km ride will include the Back Creek Trail, part of the Bendigo Creek Trail, part of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, a sealed trail through the Greater Bendigo National Park, plus some selected urban streets to return the group to the Bath Lane area at approx. 9.15–9.30am.


Ride #2:
Bicycle Network reps will be joining the Bendigo road ride groups, which meet at the ‘Sternberg St roundabout’ (corner Townsend and Somerville Streets). The reps will be joining the ‘7.15s’ and ‘7.30s’ groups departing at 7.15am and 7.30am. Hop in if you’d like to both enjoy the ride and also to have a chat.

Post-ride ‘Coffee n Chat’: All rides will return to cafes in the Bath Lane area for coffee and muffins (courtesy of Bicycle Network) where Bicycle Network staff will be also happy to chat with riders.