Dec 27, 2019
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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.
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This wagon’s original ‘spoke’ wheels had previously been replaced by the later ‘full disc’ type.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.
Oct 30, 2019
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Rail trails evoke the interest of many people, some for their health and wellbeing/fitness, some exploring and experiencing the local natural environment or food/wine, while others seek out elements relating to the former railway. To assist with exploring such railway history, this Friends’ web pages have a separate page telling some of the history relating to the former Victorian Railway’s cross country ‘Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst‘ railway that one section closed in 1958 and the last in 1968.
Railway construction, believed to be at Axedale Racecourse Platform. Photo: ‘Axedale Railway Line 01_BHS1265’
That page ‘Railway history‘ has recently been updated, with some additional new photos and text. Of course some may say history is just a combination of stories and lies that people have agreed upon! While this compiled page may possibly have some elements of this, corrections with related supporting information are always welcomed.
The recently installed eleven new interpretive information signs, placed at various points of interest along the O’Keefe Rail Trail are impressive, which are definitely a must see!
Do you know of any related ‘stories’, perhaps the whereabouts of an historical photo of the Axedale Railway Station, or the name of the chap with the bowler hat in the photo above? If so, we would love to know about such or receive a copy of any related railway photos.
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.
Aug 22, 2019
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Not being familiar with any trail can sometimes have some users becoming confused or at worst believe that they are lost! A review of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, by Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members, found certain sections may introduce ‘choices’ or uncertainty for those first time users.
The review’s outcome was then highlighted to the trail’s manager, the City of Greater Bendigo council, who’s staff agreed to assist improve the trail’s wayfinding signage. Members of the Friends group then worked with council staff to create a new wayfinding sign design, specific to the O’Keefe Rail Trail.
New wayfinding signs on O’Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: Rob Jarvis
With the required new signs manufactured and installed at identified locations near Axedale and Heathcote towns, it is expected that visitors and locals will continue to rate this as one of the best rail trails in Victoria …..if not Australia!
Aug 20, 2019
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What was going to hold the interest of four girlfriends’ heading out for a planned two day country escape away on bikes? Would central Victoria’s O’Keefe Rail Trail provide the spark to keep the momentum happening, create a level of excitement to be remembered, plus along the way deliver surprises both on and off the trail?
Ready to Ride the O’Keefe Rail Trail Photo: Allison Stephens
Well one of those cyclists Allison Stephens visually captured such an ‘escape’ earlier this year, while out there cycling and enjoying an O’Keefe trail ride with three of her friends. They cycling from Bendigo via Axedale to Heathcote, and then returned later the next day to catch a V/Line train back to Melbourne.
It was all about a “100km of trail, 2 flat tires, a few beers, a mob of roo’s and a dog named Lexie“! (Allison Stephens)
Checking out Rifle Butts platform, on the O’Keefe Rail Trail Photo: Allison Stephens
This off-road trail and its connected towns just have to be one of Victoria’s best kept secrets……and its open 24/7 every month of the year in regional Australia!
Jul 26, 2019
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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.”
Jul 25, 2019
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While dressed for a cool Victorian winter’s day, clear blue skies saw members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail (FBKRT) heading out to ride the Castlemaine to Maldon Trail. This 18km trail was opened in 2017, and shares the railway easement with the historic goldfields branch line still used by the Victorian Goldfields Railway (VGR).
The ride arrives at Muckleford Station, as did a VGR train. Photo: Paul Ferguson
While there is an annual event ‘Race The Train’ held, such was not the plan by FBKRT members enjoying the natural environment and observed historic timber railway bridges while riding at a slower pace. After arriving at the Muckleford station, the trail’s mid-point, the group were delighted to observe a family of Spotted Pardalotes near the station seemingly not concerned by a passing tourist steam train.
VGR train to depart Muckleford station for Castlemaine. Photo: Christine Scott
The planned destination of the historic Maldon was reached by the ride group for a well-earned coffee, with lunch had at the historic Kangaroo Hotel while observing the vistas of Victoria’s first notable town. It was then a short ride to the Maldon station to load the bikes onto the VGR steam loco hauled train, for the return trip to Castlemaine. It was agreed the trail was achievable for most riders on MTB or similar gravel bikes, the day really enjoyed and definitely a ride to be repeated.
May 29, 2019
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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
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.
Mar 25, 2019
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The ‘Light the Trail’ event is promising to be something special in 2019. Riders will be using the Axedale to Heathcote section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail for event in The O’Keefe Challenge’s weekend of activities, which also includes the iconic Mandalay Resources O’Keefe Marathon and other events.
The Light the Trail ride destination will be Heathcote, with the end of the ride seeing riders roll into Palling Bros. Brewery on High St in Heathcote. This will be a unique experience, with riders cycling from Axedale to Heathcote guided by their bike’s own light, and possibly by the moon also! Riders will be encouraged to also ‘light up’ their bike, as well as themselves!
Light The Trail. Photo: G.Long
At the event’s finish location, Palling Bros. Brewery, prizes will be awarded for ‘Best Illumi nated Outfit’, ‘Best Lit Bike’ plus an ‘Encouragement Award’ for those who have demonstrated the spirit of The O’Keefe Challenge.
Date: Friday, 26 April 2019.
Location: Axedale to Heathcote (26km)
Time: 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start
More details and registrations via this link