Mar 14, 2021
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Planning a trail ride or walk over Easter with friends? Or wondering where to next explore rural Victoria that combines some exercise with enjoying food and refreshments at a cafe, a restaurant, winery or boutique brewery?
Of course there is the option to just chill out at a country B&B or hotel, after riding the popular O’Keefe Rail Trail!
Sep 22, 2020
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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 official opening that was carried out by Mayor Cr. O’Rourke.
Jun 28, 2020
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Thinking about visiting Heathcote, Victoria for a day or weekend, yet wondering if there are enough opportunities locally to cycle or walk? Well if you are looking for some serious challenges, then choose the access road to Mount Ida to cycle up, take in the views, and then do the down hill ride! Or put the boots on to do a spot of bush walking in the same area, capped off with panoramic views.
Apart from the many forest tracks in the One Eye Forest or Heathcote-Graytown National Park, perhaps you are looking for something a little more relaxing, closer to a brewery, a winery cellar door, a cafe or a bakery? Then there are five (5) local close-to-town trails, which are provided with helpful way-finding signage.
Heathcote’s Trail Map, at the O’Keefe Rail Trail head, Herriot St. Photo: G.Long
Can’t decide whether to do the Liquid Amber Trail, the McIvor Creek Trail, the Pink Cliffs Trail, the Viewing Rock Trail, or the O’Keefe Rail Trail (doing a local section, or further to Lake Eppalock/Axedale/Bendigo)? Then do them all within one visit, or the return trip to Heathcote! Details and directions related to these trails can be viewed on street located maps (e.g. at the rail trail head in Herriot St, or in High St), otherwise chat to the friendly staff at the Visitor Information Centres in Heathcote and Bendigo.
Apr 19, 2020
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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.
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.
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.
A proud day for the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members, to finally have the only locally manufactured item of heritage railway rolling stock now on public display in the Bendigo area. This wagon was transported under the watchful eye of the Friends’ project committee members to Axedale by heavy road transport, due the wagon’s size and 9 ton weight, and then placed as a static display on the O’Keefe Rail Trail at Axedale.
While previously locally stored steam engine locos and rolling stock, manufactured and/or serviced by former local Victorian Railways employees having been scrapped or ‘given away’ by council, this wagon is now the only specific reminder of the economic importance that this industry had on the Bendigo region. The involvement of BRW (Bendigo Railway Workshops) company staff with the restoration, funded by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group, has also been greatly appreciated.
With years of rough working treatment, followed by decades of rust and neglect after being removed from Victorian Railway’s rolling stock, much work was required to bring this wagon back to its original look, markings and its “wagon red’ paint finish.
Railway 4-wheel wagon HY16625 placed at the replica Axedale Railway Station platform. Photo: Colin Scott Mar 2020
Jan 26, 2020
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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 seeks more rail trail cycle and walking tourism
Go to Give Now “Be 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.
Jan 25, 2020
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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
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!
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.