Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Friends

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!

Missing??

Have you been out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail recently and wondering where it has gone? What is missing? The historic railway wagon, previously relocated from the Korumburra station and placed at the former Axedale Railway Station site on the O’Keefe Rail Trail in 2018, has been removed.

The company BRW (Bendigo Railway Workshops), which is located at the former Victorian Railways North Bendigo Railway Workshops, is enthusiastic to be working with the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group to restore this ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon. The wagon was transported by A2B Move It P/L to BRW this week. The planned work is intended to, as near as possible, return the wagon to its original condition when wagons were manufactured in the former VR railway workshops during the late 1950s.

The ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon being delivered to BRW Bendigo. Photo: Rob Jarvis

This wagon’s original ‘spoke’ wheels had previously been replaced by the later ‘full disc’ type. With a set of the ‘spoke’ wheels located, and kindly made available by the Central Victorian Goldfields Railway, these wheels were then transported to BRW and will be installed on this wagon.

A set of ‘spoke’ type railway wheels are delivered to BRW. Photo: Ken Hanson

Stay tuned for news updates on the restoration of this wagon, which will be returned to Axedale as the only item of historic railway rolling stock on public display in the Greater Bendigo area.

Join The Crew!

Heathcote was the place to ‘Join the Crew’ last weekend, an event that brought both volunteers and the public together. It was a chance to connect with some of the community groups linked to Heathcote, as well as find out what’s happening locally.

Some of the Friends members with Mayor Margaret O’Rourke

The Friends group was directly involved, having an information stand to both explain the benefits of extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail, as well as encouraging new membership.

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail info stand

This event was the initative of local resident and journalist Vanessa Wiltshire, with profits being donated to the Heathcote Dementia Alliance.

Bicycle Rewards

Its all about timing, targets and tactics in implementing bike infrastructure. This was the message Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards, as guest speaker at the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM 8 October in Bendigo.

Craig painted the picture of the challenges plus the rewards of getting more people on bikes, yet also highlighted some key things that can also lead to a project’s ‘crash’!

 

L-R: Kevin Thiele (past VP), Colin Campbell, Craig Richards, Colin Scott, Garry Long at the AGM

The Friends group’s President Garry Long reflected on the past 12 months achievements of the active community group. The group was formed 10 years ago, initially focussed on improving and extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail, yet has included in its objectives a broader focus on creating more local cycling and walking opportunities.

The group’s elected 2019-20 Executive is President Garry Long, Vice President Colin Scott, Secretary Paul Ferguson, and Treasurer Colin Campbell.

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.