Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Health and wellbeing

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 latest COVID19 restrictions in Australia have been extended as of 30 March, to certain outdoor activities such as now closing the likes of outdoor gyms and boot camps. Public gatherings are now restricted to only 2 people (exemption for family groups/ same residence). Link to Dept. of Health.

The community is being asked to stay at home where possible, except for essential activities e.g. obtaining food, working commitments etc. Yet for the health and wellbeing of individuals, daily exercise is being encouraged while social distancing must be 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 trails. Justin and Brianna Maddern decided their local O’Keefe Rail Trail was a safe place for their family to exercise over the weekend.

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

Crossing the trail’s Axe Creek bridge, Justin was running at a pace, daughter Lilah peddling hard to keep up with dad, and mum Brianna cycling with 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 many on the O’Keefe trail over the past weekend, while observed social distancing with others also using the trail. Take-away coffee facilities for trail users at Junortoun (McIvor Hwy crossing), Axedale and Heathcote added 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, with only about 10 minutes of time usually required.

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

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.

Give Now to Support

Imagine an off-road trail running all the way from Melbourne to Bendigo, through towns like Wallan, Heathcote Junction, Kilmore, Pyalong, Tooborac, Heathcote, Axedale and including the now O’Keefe Rail Trail. How can you help to have this development occur?

One way is to make a ‘Give Now’ donation right now, to assist community efforts in lobbying Local, State and Federal governments, as your donation will help to put this trail ‘on their front page for funding’. Your donation will assist highlighting what the development of this linking trail will do, to build healthier communities and stronger local economies.

Regional Victoria rail trail cycle tourism

Regional Victoria seeks more rail trail cycle and walking tourism

Go to Give NowBe a Trail Blazer appeal” (http://bit.ly/38xoI2u) to donate once or on a regular basis, as you or your family/friends could personally benefit from this trail’s development.

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!

Age No Barrier for Bicycle Riders

A chance to exercise away from busy roads, meet new friends, learn about interesting local attractions were some of the things experienced by bicycle riders during Seniors Week in Bendigo.

One of the week’s program of activities was a shared bicycle ride along a section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail. “It was open to all, whether you felt like you were a senior or not, the ride proved popular” said Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail’s activities coordinator Greg Ralton, “Participants were able to join the ride at different points along the trail, with commentary provided on railway history, new tree plantings, signs and developments on this popular trail.’

Of course like most bicycle rides, this ride also finished with another popular activity, having coffees and social chats at Lake Weeroona!

O’Keefe Trail Rated a Winner

Bendigo resident Keith Davenport definitely loves challenging himself, whether it is event running, road cycling in central Victoria, cycling in the French Alps, or jogging along beaches in his previous home country of New Zealand. His cycling interests also have broadened to include off-road gravel bikes that can be ridden along country roads, bush trails and rail trails.

Ride starts at the O’Keefe trail and Bendigo Creek Trail. Photo: K.Davenport 14 Aug 2019

A recent ride beginning and ending in Bendigo saw Keith include the O’Keefe Rail Trail to Heathcote for his first time, and after taking ‘time out’ at a Heathcote bakery, it was then off riding along quite country roads via Redesdale. The day’s total distance was to covered over 100kms. Asked what he thought of the rail trail section, Keith responded “It was actually much better than I thought, should have done it long ago”.

Site of the former Heathcote Railway Station is reached. Photo: K.Davenport 14 Aug 2019

“I really enjoyed riding this trail, it is well maintained and signposted. There is enough variety in terms of terrain and features that it doesn’t become boring in the way that some rail trails can. I really hope that it gets extended right through to Wallan” said Keith, “ as it would be great to be able to ride most of the way from Bendigo to Melbourne on these kind of safe, easy to ride trails.” No doubt Keith will return again, probably with family and friends, to enjoy what the O’Keefe Rail Trail, Axedale and Heathcote have to offer.

Golden Wattles in Bloom along Trail

Spring in the Bendigo bush is just around the corner, which is a great time to experience the local natural bush environment highlighting the seasonal change with its flowers. Such was the ideal time this week for the U3A Bendigo Walking Group, who’s members headed out on a planned walk along the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

O’Keefe Rail Trail water station utilised by U3A Bendigo walkers Photo: Margaret Hanson

With the Golden Wattles (Acacia pycnantha) early blooms creating a splash of bright yellow, such made a lovely setting to enjoy the trail walk. Its no surprise that the enthusiastic members definitely had a chat or two along the way, as well as including a morning tea break.

U3A Bendigo Walking Group members walking the trail with wattles. Photo: Liz Martin 28 Aug 2019

Of course the walkers did need to dress accordingly for the expected cool day out walking the rail trail, as it was the very tail end of formal winter in Victoria!