Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Federal Government

Volunteers Recognised

Not being taken for granted, International Volunteer Day 2016 has recognised the efforts of volunteers in the Greater Bendigo area.

A celebration was held on 5 December at the Bendigo Town Hall, to say thank you to local volunteers and acknowledge the important role that they play in our community.

Along with approximately 400 attending volunteers, Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail volunteer members who give of their time so generously, attended. Certificates of Recognition were presented by Lisa Chesters MP Federal Member for Bendigo, and City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke, to those who were nominated from the community.

L-R: Mal Ward, Lindsay Clay, Les Lewis, Mayor Cr Margaret O'Rourke, Ken Hanson, Rob Nelson receive recognition. 5 Dec 2016

L-R: Mal Ward, Lindsay Clay, Les Lewis, Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke, Ken Hanson, and Rob Nelson receive recognition. 5 Dec 2016

“Volunteers and their organisations have shown what a great job they do, in creating a sense of belonging, social inclusion and build stronger local communities” Ms Chesters said during the ceremony.

O’Keefe Rail Trail Needs Napier St Underpass

A last ditch push for a separated on-road bike lane, as well as a separated off-road trail underpass, has been made by Bike Bendigo Inc. This community based group have also supported the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group’s efforts to change VicRoads upgrade plans for Napier St Bendigo.

Seeking to incorporate safer infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians into the $30.4M major arterial road upgrade project, both Bike Bendigo and the Friends group have identified the O’Keefe Rail Trail crossing of Napier St as being a forgotten element compared to the roadway and motor vehicle users.

The O’Keefe Rail Trail is expected to be an important future ‘active transport’ link. The City of Greater Bendigo Council’s recent Intergrated Transport and Land Use Strategy report identified active transport as a critical element to improving and managing Bendigo’s future transport network. For this off-road trail’s crossing of Napier St to be increasingly popular for pedestrians, walkers and cyclists, it must be designed and built as being safe to use.

Intersection of Napier St and Weeroona Ave White Hills. Photo: Garry Long

The busy intersection of Napier St and Weeroona Ave, White Hills. Photo: Garry Long

A crossing separation, ultilising an underpass of Napier St, is seen as a future proof means of attracting more commutor and recreational use of the trail. Jacinta Allan MP, Victorian State Minister for Public Transport, Minister for Major Projects has been made aware of the short coming of the Napier St project, and has become involved as the Member for Bendigo East. The Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, has thrown her support behind improving the safety of this current hazardous crossing of Napier St by the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

The published Bike Bendigo’s community concerns in The Bendigo Advertiser highlights aspects of this VicRoads project that must be reviewed and taken seriously when finalising the Napier St plans. Interest groups and community members are encouraged to contact the Member for East Bendigo Jacinta Allan MP, and VicRoads (Bendigo), to seek the inclusion of a trail underpass into the Napier St project.

Traffic on Napier St near the O'Keefe Rail Trail crossing, White Hills. Photo: Garry Long

Traffic to increase on Napier St near existing O’Keefe Rail Trail crossing, White Hills. Photo: Garry Long

A Not-for-Profit case study

Between November 2011 and June 2013, the Office for the Community Sector, in partnership with Small Business Victoria and the Small Business Mentoring Service, delivered the Business Planning for Not for Profit Program.

The Program featured ten business planning seminars and individual business mentoring sessions across Victoria to support not for profit community organisations improve business practices.

This business planning and mentoring helped the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail to operate more efficiently, increase membership, and work towards achieving future major goals.

One such future major goal of the Friends group is to have a Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail created. This trail would not only link with the O’Keefe Rail Trail plus a number of other trails in regional Victoria, it could also link those trails directly into the Melbourne metropolitan trail network.

With the current cooperation of the Mitchell Shire Council and the City of Greater Bendigo Council, plus possible funding support from the Victorian State Government and the Federal Government, this proposal could become a reality for the benefit of regional communities and businesses.

Click here to read and view more about this case study and that Business Planning for Not for Profit Program.

A milestone is reached!

Tuesday 1st July 2014, marked four years since the current O’Keefe Rail Trail Project officially commenced.

This date also marked the 21st anniversary of the commencement for the initial trail project, to build the then unnamed off-road trail utilising a former railway line reserve. This was a ground breaking project by the former Strathfieldsaye Shire Council, the State Government, and the Federal Government (via an unemployment scheme). It would also be one of the very first (within the first three it is believed) such trails in Australia, to become known as a rail trails. (The O’Keefe Rail Trail history)

 

Former Axe Creek suspension bridge, Jan 2012. Photo. Garry Long

Former Axe Creek suspension bridge (before replacement), Jan 2012. Photo. Garry Long

 

Fast forward to 2010-2014, this current jointly funded State Government and City of Greater Bendigo Council project has enabled the third stage of development for the O’Keefe Rail Trail to be undertaken. It is expected that this current project will extend the trail’s distance to approximately 50kms overall, and be completed by early 2015.

 

Another community driven proposal, by Mitchell Bicycle User Group and Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, has the goal of creating a significant long distance off-road trail in central Victoria. A Wallan-Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail directly networked with other off-road trails, like the Craigeburn Bypass Trail, would be approx 150+kms in total (networked). This vision would incorporate the O’Keefe Rail Trail, and links to other off-road trails, connecting Melbourne via Kilmore with Bendigo, similar to what the original railway line did when it opened in 1890!

Community expectations, and rail trails development, continues to build Victoria as the tracks and trails state of Australia.

Federal Senator-elect rides the O’Keefe Rail Trail

Sunday 22nd June 2014 was the day that Federal Senator-elect Janet Rice rode the O’Keefe Rail Trail, from Bendigo to a point east of Axedale. Why? It was part of Janet’s current cycle journey to Canberra. The cycle friendly city of Bendigo saw local cyclists, including members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, share the trail ride with Janet.

Riders ready to start the Bendigo to Rushworth section of Janet Rice's journey to Canberra

Riders ready for the Bendigo to Rushworth section of Janet Rice’s journey to Canberra

The ride was an opportunity for Janet to directly experience the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s upgrade and current extension progress to Heathcote. Not only was the O’Keefe trail highlighted during the ride, so too was the proposed linking Wallan-Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail. Janet understood the importance that this proposed trail would provide for Victorian regional tourism.

This proposed trail would be directly linked to the O’Keefe Rail Trail and also networked with other regional trails. Plus, these two linked trails combined would be unique, as Victoria’s only long distance (120+kms) trail served by both passenger rail and freeways at both ends.

Janet and rider team on the O'Keefe Rail Trail, enjoying the natural envirnoment.

Janet and riders on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, enjoying the natural envirnoment.

This proposed Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail also has the ability, via identified options, to link the whole of the Melbourne trail network directly with regional Victorian towns and trails. Now that is exciting news to hear for many people, including Victorian Senator-elect Janet Rice! Safe cycling to Canberra Janet, and your team.