Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Regional tourism

Councillor reflects on “Rail Trail Tourism”

Greater City of Bendigo Councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth’s published blog on 20th October 2018 has made reference to attending the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail AGM and the benefits to be gained from rail trail tourism.

Link to blog –

A year in review and still more to come!

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Cr Wrigglesworth also made reference to the Victorian National Party Deputy Leader Steph Ryan’s announcement to fund the Murchison to Rushworth (Heathcote) Rail Trail, if elected to government in November 2018.

Perhaps there will be a similar announcement made for the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail, by candidates running for the same Victorian State Government elections!

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.

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.

Lighting up the O’Keefe Rail Trail

The O’Keefe Challenge certainly gained support from both runners, walkers and cyclists over the April event weekend. While the running events, such as the marathon and half marathon attracted record entries, a new cycling event was conducted for the first time in 2018.

‘Light The Trail’ was a cycling event held on the Friday evening of the popular event weekend. With this event commencing in Axedale at 7pm, cyclists were encouraged to also ‘light up’ themselves and their bikes with coloured decorative lights. The route followed the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale to Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve, a distance of 27.6kms, with cyclists relying only on their bright bike lights to see the trail ahead. While not a race, the lead riders did cover the distance in under 1hr 15mins, while most riders just enjoyed a more leisurely pace!

Very bright Light The Trail participants! Photo: G.Long

Some of the very bright ‘Light The Trail’ participants! Photo: G.Long

 

Riders get ready at the event start, Axedale. Photo: G.Long

A section of riders getting ready at the event start, Axedale. Photo: G.Long

A light supper was available for all riders at the finish, as well as a free bus with bike trailer providing transport back to Axedale. And yes, there were some riders who decided to ride the rail trail back to Axedale later that evening ……perhaps to gain just a little more of the great experience that the night event had provided!

Rail Trail Attracts Runners

The third O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon community organised events attracted 800 individual runners on Sunday 22 April, utilising various sections of the O’Keefe Rail Trail as part of the O’Keefe Challenge.

O'Keefe Rail Trail Marathon runners cross Lake Eppalock. Photo Bendigo Advertiser

O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon runners cross Lake Eppalock. Photo: Bendigo Advertiser 22 April 2018

“We are really lucky in Bendigo and Heathcote to have this track, and it’s just so good to be able to share that with people.” said Race Director Nigel Preston. “We finished at the oval in Heathcote for the first time, which was a great setting for the finish.”

The marathon event attracted 114 runners, starting in Junortoun, and 120 entered the half marathon commencing in Knowsley, whilst other participants entered in the 5km, 10km plus the other running and walking events starting in Heathcote.

Bendigo athlete and former triathlete Leon Griffen won the marathon, in a time of two hours and 35 minutes, being a credible time compared with the marathon world record of two hours and two minutes.

“It was his first attempt and Leon did super well,” Mr Preston said. “Our course is pretty tough, there’s varied terrain and gravel surface for most of it, plus the second half is gradually up hill.”

For the first time a ‘Light the Trail’ cycling event was a lead in event on the Friday night, using the O’Keefe Rail Trail and only bike lights. This event proved popular, starting at Axedale and finishing in Heathcote.

 

The O’Keefe Challenge, its all about timing!

There is still time to register for events this weekend being held on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, yet you need to be quick!! Take on The O’Keefe Challenge, by either running, walking or cycling on the historic O’Keefe Rail Trail. The first cycle event, ‘Light The Trail’, is on Friday April 20 starting at 7pm. All the other events are on Sunday 22 April when Heathcote comes alive!

Registration open until April 18. Find out more now at www.bendigotourism.com/…/6412-the-o-keefe-run-cycle-walk-an…

Visionary Rail Trail Proposal

The Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail is seen as being visionary for the Mitchell Shire Council’s community, business economy and tourism, according to Mayor Rhonda Sanderson. The Shire Councillors voted seven to one to proceed with the trail feasibility study’s final report at its 19 March meeting.

Council agreed it will work with the community, landowners, trail users, and related experts by forming a Trail Working Group, to investigate concerns raised by some landowners of the former railway reserve.

The Council will also investigate external funding opportunities for implementing the trail in stages, as per the study’s recommendations, plus securing access to land and/or preservation of the route on which the trail may be located.

The actual trail route proposed for certain sections, which are privately owned, will depend upon whether private landowners and Council agree on access arrangements, or land sales/ leases, or alternative route options. Such arrangements are usually required for many other successful trail developments in Victoria, interstate, and other countries e.g. New Zealand, USA.

Related article: Bendigo Weekly, 23 March edition p. 11.  2018-03-23_Bendigo Weekly

 

Rail Trail Link To Wallan Feasible

The Bendigo Weekly has published an article in its 23 February edition “Rail Trail Link To Wallan Feasible” reporting on the Wallan to Heathcote Feasibility Study that is to be considered by the Mitchell Shire Council at its 19th March meeting.

This article included comments by a Pyalong resident and business co-owner, relating to concerns about the study consultant’s processes as well as perceived impacts that a rail trail may have in the Pyalong area.

Link to the paper’s on-line BendigoWeekly.com.au report

It is understood that the Mitchell Shire Council will make a decision at its March meeting, whether to accept or otherwise the recommendations in the study’s final report. Should a decision be made to accept the report, it has been indicated that such would not automatically commit the Council and its ratepayers to embark on implementing the report’s recommendations in the future, or to expend ratepayers rate revenue for the report’s proposed staged development of the trail.

Should the study be accepted by Council, this could become the basis for attracting significant external grants to the Shire to create employment of local people and contractors, be the basis of local discussions on how such a project could be implemented with the various parties involved including private landholders of the former railway alignment’s land.

O’Keefe Rail Trail fence and gate, for moving farm stock between paddocks.

When most rail trails are in the planned stage, there is need to consider many factors including detours or bypasses from the original railway’s alignment, whether such is due to road realignments, private land or land use changes i.e buildings, farming practices etc. The outcomes can be about a ‘win win’ for all involved, perhaps the farmer gains new fences/gates/screening trees, or an all weather joint use ‘internal road’ to access paddocks for stock movements, or the sale of a small parcel of unproductive land to add to the farmer’s superannuation fund, the leasing of land, or an upgraded sealed joint use road/trail. All of these examples listed here are what were negotiated by people involved with the recent extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail between Axedale and Heathcote.

Upgraded sealed shared road - O'Keefe Rail Trail

A low traffic upgraded sealed joint use road/trail – The O’Keefe Rail Trail

The local Tavern/pub/General Store plus other small businesses continue to have ‘wins’ too. Local communities, rural school students, small walking groups have access their own recreational rail trail facility to help improve their own health and wellbeing, as well as attracting other walking and cycling trail users who bring economic benefits to the small towns involved. ‘Rail trail’ business could make the difference between a local shop or pub closing or not, with such lost affecting local farmers and residents. Rail trails are for the community including farming families, rail trails help support rural business and employment.

New Road Underpasses for Trail

Construction work has begun on building new road underpasses, as part of improving the Bendigo urban off-road trail network. This work will link the Spring Gully Trail to the Bendigo Creek Trail, plus eliminate the hazardous crossing for pedestrians and cyclists on McIvor Road near the historic railway bridge.

Spring Gully Trail extension 2018

Constructing three underpasses for the Spring Gully Trail on Back Crk, Bendigo. 14 Feb 2018

The works will result in one underpass constructed under the Abbott St bridge, one under a narrow pedestrian bridge, another under the McIvor Road bridge, plus also under the communications ducts that cross above Back Creek.

This off-road trail extension will also improve the connection between the Bendigo Railway Station and the O’Keefe Rail Trail, for visiting cycling and walking tourists, with only the link between the station platform and Ewing Park now needing to be formalised.

Bike Bendigo and the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community groups had sort improvements at this location, and so welcome the efforts of the City of Greater Bendigo in eliminating the ‘at grade’ crossing of McIvor Rd.