Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Friends

Bike Infrastructure Challenges

Most cyclists love using bicycle specific infrastructure, such as easy accessible bike racks, protective bike lanes, or off-road paths/trails. Many of these are also regularly used by walkers and families, all with the intent of improving safety and enjoyment plus encouraging the leaving of the car at home! Yet implementing such projects can often present many challenges.

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM’s guest speaker Craig Richards, CEO Bicycle Network, intends to share some of these challenges and how many can be addressed.

The Annual General Meeting will be held at the Bendigo District Cycling Clubrooms, Tom Flood Centre, Water St, Bendigo, Tuesday 8th October, 6.45pm.

Members of the public are invited to attend, with the meeting also hearing of the Friends group’s achievements over the past 12 months plus objectives to be implemented over the next year.

Trees, Trails and Volunteers

The old saying that “many hands make light work” is often true when it comes to volunteering, and this was the case for the 2019 National Tree Day (NTD). Planning by the City of Greater Bendigo council’s Parks and Open Spaces staff identified the O’Keefe Rail Trail in East Bendigo as one of three Bendigo sites for this annual tree planting activity. Together with council support, the Longlea Landcare Group chose the Axedale River Reserve as a NTD site, which is also closely connected with the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Volunteers at National Tree Day 2019, Axedale River Reserve. Photo: Longlea Landcare

As with previous local NTD activities involving this rail trail reserve, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members were again keen to be involved along with other community members. With 70 volunteers at Axedale successfully planting 700 trees, and 80 volunteers at the O’Keefe Rail Trail site East Bendigo planting 3000 plants, it was a great community effort.

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members Rob and Nola Jarvis. Photo: Paul Harrison. 28 July 2019

As world leaders currently attempt to address the issue of large scale burning of Brazil’s Amazon Forest, such concerns are based upon the science that trees and plants provide many environmental benefits like improving air quality. Trees also help to control the heat in cities and urban areas, as well as countless health benefits for individuals such as reducing stress and promoting physical activity.

At a local level, the O’Keefe Rail Trail reserve’s environment will again benefit from the outcomes of the 2019 National Tree Day in the future, not only for trail users yet also helping to improve habitats for native animals and birds.

History Revealed on Rail Trail

A glimpse back into how railway transport helped develop communities and businesses, aided rural farmers plus gold exploration, can now be seen via new interpretive signs along the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Working closely with the City of Greater Bendigo, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group have sought to bring elements of history back for the benefits of the rail trail users.

As a result of much research, the outcome has seen 11 interpretive information signs being placed at specific locations along the O’Keefe trail. Such reveals the current trail’s connection to the past, for the Heathcote to Bendigo (Sandhurst) section of the former ‘Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Railway’. The history highlighted covers the period from 1887, for the railway’s construction, to more recent times of rail trail development. Trail users can imagine going back in history, living in a different period, without even leaving the trail!

Greg and Glenda Ralton, Brett Martini, and Paul Ferguson at the signage launch. Photo: Andrew Perryman

At the official launch of the new information signs, the City of Greater Bendigo council’s City Engineering Manager Brett Martini said “The O’Keefe Rail Trail is a wonderful asset for the Greater Bendigo that provides unique opportunities for residents and visitors to walk and cycle the total 49kms between Bendigo and Heathcote.”

Historic Forest Ride to Rushworth

What to do on cool yet sunny autumn Sunday in central Victoria? Well ten riders from the Mitchell Bicycle Users Group (MBUG) and ten riders from the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail headed out to ride all or part of a route between Heathcote and Rushworth.

The riders were able to experience the Heathcote-Graytown National Park, pass by Mt Ida, Mt Camel, and the Gobarup Nature Conservation Reserve, as well as through the Whroo Nature Conservation Reserve. As the planned morning tea location, the major attraction of the Whroo Historical Area is the significant Balaclava Mine, which is an open-cut mine in the now Australian ‘ghost town’ of Whroo. Mining in this open cut ceased in the 1920’s, yet the site remains a visual reminder of the former gold rush era.

Grass Trees in Heathcote-Graytown National Park

Grass Trees in Heathcote-Graytown National Park

Due to a timing issue (was it a head wind, or distractions on route?), unfortunately the two groups did not meet as planned to share a cuppa and Anzac biscuits at the Whroo Historical Area, yet Rushworth businesses definitely benefited as the group members enjoyed lunch at either the MotoFinish Cafe or the Rushworth Bakery in Rushworth.

Rider’s lunch at Rushworth. Photo Greg Ralton

A good coffee and some home-cooked food was a great way to finish exploring this part of a proposed Heathcote to Murchison Trail, for which the Campaspe Shire Council is currently seeking funding for completing the current open section of the Waranga Rail Trail.

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.

National Tree Day at Axedale

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.

Rail Trail volunteers Zeke, Maika and Mal Ward, Nancy Jarvis, Ken Hanson, and Rob Jarvis

Rail Trail volunteers Zeke, Maika and Mal Ward, Nola Jarvis, Ken Hanson, and Rob Jarvis

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!

New attraction for the O’Keefe Rail Trail

The former Wallan to Bendigo railway had trains carrying passengers and goods for most of the 70 years for the Bendigo – Heathcote section, between 1888 and 1958. The O’Keefe Rail Trail has been located on sections of this former railway reserve since 1992.

An initiative of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group was to create another link between the rail trail and that former railway, with an historic static display of a 20th century railway wagon. The location for this display was to be the former Axedale Railway Station site, where a replica platform had recently been constructed by the group. Not only is this an historic link with a past means of transport, it is also expected to be an educational opportunity for school children and younger adults.

This project has just recently taken another step forward from the planning stage, with the delivery of a former Victorian Railways ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon. Also as an added historic link to the Bendigo area, this particular wagon was one of a number manufactured at the VR North Bendigo Railway Workshops between 1955 and 1957.

A 'GY' Railway Wagon returns to Axedale. Photo: G.Long

A ‘GY’ Railway Wagon returns to Axedale. Photo: G.Long

The transportation of the wagon to Axedale was made possible by a community grant provided by the Fosterville Gold Mine and Kirkland Lake Gold. This grant has been very much appreciated by the group, as was the assistance provided by local transport company A2B Move It. The project’s next stage will see the refurbishment of the wagon for public display.

Mayor says “Thank You”

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.

National Volunteer Week, City of Greater Bendigo Morning Tea 24 June 2018. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo

National Volunteer Week, City of Greater Bendigo Morning Tea 24 June. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo

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.

Ride2School on Rail Trail

The National Ride to School day event for the Axedale Primary School each year involves one of their school’s favourite adopted ‘school facility’, the O’Keefe Rail Trail. This National activity provides an opportunity for students, parents and teachers to try riding, walking, skating or scooting to school as well as celebrating the regular walkers and riders. And Axedale school community really does get behind this National initiative.

From this small rural school, students from all age groups were involved as well as teachers and parents plus the ride being assisted by Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members. At the early morning start time of 7:30am, from the designated Longlea Lane start point, this saw an excited bunch of older students ready to share the whole experience on the rail trail. As the ride group rode closer towards the school, the younger age students and parents joined the group at various points along the trail.

Axedale Primary School students Ride to School. Photo: L.Clay

Axedale Primary School students Ride to School. Photo: L.Clay

The ‘official’ 2018 photo was taken at the recently constructed replica Axedale Railway Station platform on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, where the student’s enthusiasm for the morning’s ride overflowed!