Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Friends

Rust Replaced By Railway Splendor

Rusting away for decades at the Korumburra Railway Station yards, one HY/GY railway wagon was fortunate to be ‘rescued’ by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group! Being one of a total of 6320 of its type manufactured for Victorian Railways, after many years of service carrying basically any freight that would fit, this wagon (GY16625R) was taken out of service in 1998 and survived being scrapped.

The wagon initially delivered, hiding its real state of decay. Photo: Les Lewis Mar 2018

With the assistance of a Fosterville Gold Mine community grant enabling the 9-ton wagon to be transported from Korumburra to Axedale in Mar 2018, the private company BRW (Bendigo Railway Workshops) was contracted in late 2019 to repair and repaint it in its original ‘Wagon Red’ scheme. Being transported to the former VR North Bendigo Railway Workshops, this was where that wagon was originally manufactured (as HY16625) in 1956. With this work completed by March 2020, the wagon was then transported back to the Friends group’s O’Keefe Rail Trail’s recreated ‘Axedale Station’ onto their laid section of track.

In the spray booth after a fresh coat of ‘wagon red’. BRW, North Bendigo. Photo: Rob Jarvis. Feb 2020

The project’s next stage was to provide all abilities access for the public into the wagon’s internal area, where freight was once carried. With the new ramp manufactured and installed just prior to a relaxation of COVID19 restrictions, an official opening by City of Greater of Bendigo Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke was able to take place on Sunday 20 Sept being witnessed by a small number of invitees.

Officially opened by Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke, assisted by FBKRT Vice Pres Colin Scott. Photo: Les Lewis 20 Sept 2020

“As the only item of heritage railway rolling stock now on public static display in the Bendigo area, this is an important asset for Bendigo as well as a great point of interest for the popular O’Keefe Rail Trail” said Cr O’Rourke.

This Link is to a video of the opening by Mayor Cr. O’Rourke.

Rail Trail Bridge Naming

Some of the often admired engineering features of railway lines are the tunnels, bridges and cuttings. The former railway that the 50 km long O’Keefe Rail Trail between Bendigo and Heathcote occupies did not have any tunnels, yet it did have cuttings and 50 timber bridges built in 1888-89.

Only one of those original timber bridges remains as a functioning structure, the Grassy Flat Creek bridge (East Bendigo). The O’Keefe Rail Trail between Bendigo and Heathcote now has 19 bridges, 2 originals plus 17 being replacement trail only bridges.

The original Grassy Flat Ck timber railway bridge, with naming sign. Photo: Lindsay Clay

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail embarked on a project to have all the bridges named relative to the waterways they spanned. This evolved into a three-part project, the first part being to research and confirm all the officially named waterways. The second part being to fund, manufacture and install signs at both ends of bridges over officially named waterways.

Axe Ck bridge name sign, finalised by Project Team Leader Ken Hanson. Photo: Lindsay Clay

With eight (8) waterways confirmed as being officially named, the Friends’ Project Team set about having the bridge signs manufactured and installed. These waterways are Grassy Flat Ck, Splitters Ck, Axe Ck, Sweenies Ck, Hargreaves Ck, Campaspe R, Mt Ida Ck, and Parsons Gully. This part of the overall project was completed in early 2020.

The new naming sign just attached to the Hargreaves Ck bridge. Photo: Lindsay Clay

The third stage has been to research historical records, to identify possible names for the waterways that were never officially named by the State Government. This research included media publicity, to seek information from the general public and community groups. This last stage is ongoing and will require a formal submission to the City of Greater Bendigo to assess and recommend names to the State Government for formal adoption. This formal process is expected to take 12 months.

The final outcome will provide additional wayfinding assistance for trail users, important location information for emergency first responders when required, assist with the trail’s management and maintenance, as well as highlighting additional points of interest for visiting tourists and the general public.

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.

 

New Railway Attraction on the O’Keefe Rail Trail

The impact that the Victorian Railways had on the economies of many small communities, as well as the larger cities during the 20th century, can easily be overlooked. Not only did the railways provide important transportation of freight and people, the government owned ‘VR’ railways also provided large employment across the State.

The three main Victorian Railway workshops were located at Newport Melbourne, North Ballarat and North Bendigo, which employed large numbers of people e.g. the VR Bendigo workshops employed a total of 720 in 1966.

One of the vehicles of rolling stock manufactured and used by the VR was the all-steel 22-ton capacity 4-wheel open wagon, of which a total of 6320 were constructed between 1939 and 1958 in Victoria, NSW, and UK. With only a very small number of these GY and HY type wagons now remaining, one such wagon HY16625 (GY16625R) has recently been restored.

HY16102 circa 1950. Official VR photo (refer www.victorianrailway.net)

As the only public static heritage railway display now in the Bendigo area, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group funded the ‘display’ restoration of HY16625 wagon by BRW Bendigo. On completion of the restoration, the wagon was recently relocated back onto the O’Keefe Rail Trail, at the recreated ‘Axedale Railway Station’ Axedale. This is now the only publicly accessible railway static display in the Greater Bendigo area.

The HY16625 Wagon Committee- Ken Hanson, Lindsay Clay, Rob Jarvis. 4/03/2020. Photo: Garry Long

A history of the Victorian Railway’s HY-GY wagon, and specifically the wagon HY16625, can be read on the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail web’s Railway History tab.

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

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.

Bicycle Network comes to Bendigo

Bicycle Network representatives will be in Bendigo on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March. They are keen to chat with riders like YOU, about what’s important when it comes to riding in the Bendigo area and beyond.

BN LogoWhat would make it easier for you to ride? What support would your family or social ride group seek to improve urban bike infrastructure, to link up existing off-road trails, or extend the O’Keefe Rail Trail to Tooborac, Kilmore and Wallan? Join Bike Bendigo and Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members, to voice regional Victorian rider’s concerns, needs and wants.

Bicycle Network Drinks and Chat – 13 March
Location: Bridge Hotel, Bridge Rd, Bendigo
Time: 5:00pm – 6.30pm
Cost: Free. Nibbles provided, drinks at bar prices.
RSVP: Via Bike Bendigo’s Facebook

Drop in for a quick chat and snack from 5pm, and feel free to stay on for a meal (Pay Your Own after 6.30pm).

Tell Us What Excited You!

Have you been out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail this Aussie Day long weekend, or recently, and would like to tell the world how good it was? Well if not the world, at least tell those who care and want to make this trail even better than many other rail trails in Victoria!

One Eye Forest, Derrinal-Heathcote section, O'Keefe Rail Trail

One Eye Forest, Derrinal-Heathcote section, O’Keefe Rail Trail

Perhaps there were little things that need a tweak, an improvement, so that your family and friends will enjoy this trail and its towns even more when they get the chance?

So let us know, fill in what’s important to you about this trail using the on-line user feedback page (http://bit.ly/37rthv6). We’d just love to know what excited you the most or otherwise!

Railway Wagon Restoration Progresses

The restoration of the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s heritage railway wagon has progressed, under the watchful eye of Bendigo Railway Workshops’ (BRW) Alan Nicolson and Mark Birchmore. Sandblasting of the known areas of metal rust corrosion has revealed that overall the wagon is structurally sound, although with some plate sections being affected by severe rust.

The extent of metal corrosion was not unexpected, due partly to the likes of bulk material such as superphosphate or open to rainwater laying inside these wagons for extended periods while stationary in railway sidings. Then for this wagon, what followed was decades of being stored in Gippsland, unused, until the wagon was allocated by PTV and retrieved from the Kurumburra Station yards.

To date the work has involved sandblasting the severely rusted sections, replacement steel plates welding into the internal floor, as well as the tarp stanchions being straightened under heat.

Inspecting work progress being undertaken by BRW. 18 Dec 2019. Photo: Rob Jarvis

The aim of the project is to restore the wagon to as near as possible to its original design specifications, with components such as the existing wheels being changed out for spoke cast wheels, repainting from the later Hansa Yellow to the original VR Wagon Red colour, and then finally applying the white identifiable VR markings.

Its Nearly Christmas, enjoying Dinner with a Moonlight Ride

A Christmas Moonlight Ride in Bendigo was again enjoyed by the ‘young’ girls and boys of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail last Saturday. Riding from Spring Gully to White Hills, fun was had along the off-road Spring Gully Trail, Back Crk Trail, and Bendigo Crk Trail, while the riders’ excitement was growing. Nearing their destination, they went searching in the Bendigo Botanical Gardens for Santa’s reindeers who might have been there grazing, before the rider group dined with the non-riders at the Botanical Hotel.

Bendigo Botanical Gardens, Moonlight Ride 2019. Photo: Kevin Thiele

On the return ride, a visit to the Garden of the Future’s events stage didn’t find Santa awaiting with gifts, as these ‘young’ riders had forgotten to send off their Santa wish list letters!! With the lure of supper on their minds, wearing hi-vis colours and with bright bike lights, the riders headed towards the South (Pole?) hoping to see the promised full moon. A diversion around Lake Weeroona, with the lights dancing upon the water, their bike headlights showing the way along Bendigo’s popular off-road urban trails as they headed for Spring Gully.

Finally, there was the enjoyment of a fruit cake supper at the Kevin and Linda’s residence, while it was joked that Santa must have opted for other transport that night and was probably having just as much fun on his bike!