Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Research

Interested in Railway History?

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.

History Photos Sought

Seeking links to history is what a current community assisted project for the O’Keefe Rail Trail is needing. An interpretive information sign project, funded by the City of Greater Bendigo council and assisted by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, is currently being developed. This project will see a number of information signs placed along the rail trail in the very near future, displaying old photos, information and facts for trail users.

The theme of the project is the former railway, showing how this influenced both community and business/farm development, employment, and how such may have impacted upon the environment.

Derrinal Railway Station (including Post Office). Approx date 1900

Derrinal Railway Station (including Post Office). Approx date: 1900

This project needs your help, and is seeking any historic photos relating to this former ‘Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Railway’ (the Heathcote-Bendigo section 1888-1958), local communities and business life, as well as information connecting individuals and events to this former railway. So check out that old shoe box of grandma’s photos or Uncle’s old photo album, just one photo could tell a real story to many! Copies of photos (or information) can be emailed to or sent to Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail at PO Box 578 Bendigo, Vic, 3552.

Bus Your Bike Trial!

Do you have a need to use Public Transport Victoria (PTV) services, with your bike? Perhaps you have tried to place your bike on a V/Line train, only to find that there was insufficient space for your bike as you couldn’t pre book a place for your bike? You would like use a PTV bus service, together with your bike, yet there is no bike space and regulations prevent a bus in Victoria from having an attached external bike carrying rack!

Currently there is a PTV trial project for a bike rack attached to public transport buses on four bus routes in Victoria. One such trail started in April 2016 on bus Route 70: Bendigo Station to Strathfieldsaye, for a 12 month period.

PTV Bus Your Bike Trail, April 2016-2017

PTV Bus Your Bike Trail, April 2016-2017

Members of the public have the opportunity to test the usability of such trial buses until April 2017, with the attached front bike rack. Have you? If the trial is determined by PTV as successful, this bike rack arrangement could be extended across the whole PTV network and other private buses. Should such occur, the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s users would have the means of getting to or from a distant trail point (Bendigo, Axedale, or Heathcote) using public transport. Bike racks on buses would therefore solve a current transport need, for certain cycle users of many Victorian trails.

PTV Bus Your Bike Trail 2016 - Route 70 (Strathfieldsaye-Bendigo)

PTV Bus Your Bike Trail 2016 – Route 70 (Strathfieldsaye-Bendigo)

PTV wants your feedback on this 12-month trial. To get involved and have your say, visit Bus Your Bike or call 1800 800 007.

Rail Trail Feasibility Study Begins

The Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail feasibility study formally began on 22 February 2016, with the selected principle consultants RMCG meeting with the study’s Steering Committee.

The major funding for this study has been provided by the current State Government, in conjunction with funding contributions from the Mitchell Shire Council and City of Greater Bendigo Council, plus ‘in kind’ direct community input.

With the selected consultants RMCG engaged, they also have the services of a number of specialist companies to assist. Those being Communityvibe, Spire Consulting Group, Trafficworks P/L, and Biosis.

The Steering Committee’s representation comes from the Mitchell Shire Council, the City of Greater Bendigo Council, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), with community involvement from the Mitchell Bicycle User Group and the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail.

As the study progresses, engagement with landowners and communities will take place to inform, seek an understanding of and take into account the various land ownership and use changes that have occurred since the former railway was recovered. The study is also required to highlight engineering, associated road traffic, heritage and environmental matters that would need to be taken into account when considering this trail proposal.

The former railway bridge, Mollison Creek, Pyalong. Photo: Garry Long

The former railway bridge, Mollison Creek, Pyalong. Photo: Garry Long

The study will conduct a full investigation of all related aspects for this proposed trail, plus indentify options that may create a network of linked trails in central and eastern areas of regional Victoria as well as linking with the Melbourne metropolitan trail network. A final report is expected later in 2016.


A Slice of Railway History

Well before the O’Keefe Rail Trail was even thought about, there was the Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst (Bendigo) Railway. Today many people may not realise what such a railway meant for those early communities of Heathcote, Argyle, Tooborac, Pyalong, High Camp, Moranding, Willowmavin, Kilmore, Bylands, Derrinal, Knowsley, Axedale, Longlea. While others may not appreciate that there was ever a railway that serviced this part of central Victoria.

This vision is a glimpse of the last special passenger train excursion that ran from Melbourne along this cross country ‘Wallan to Heathcote railway’ in Nov 1968 (as the Heathcote to Bendigo section had been closed 10 years earlier) with steam locomotives D3 639 and K184 double heading the train. Captured on 8mm film by Graeme Reid, this is a great snap shot of the last days that this cross country railway, a line built about 80 years previous as part of the Victorian Railways network! For a more detailed account of the history of this line, go to the ‘Railway History’ page of this web site.

It is hoped in the future, that all these towns and communities will once again be linked together by that original (as much as possible) railway alignment. Yet this time it may be as a continuous rail trail, to bring economic benefits as well as improvements to the health and wellbeing of those communities.

Looking for your feedback!

How to assist make the new and extended O’Keefe Rail Trail even better, ……even longer? The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail are keen to capture feedback from users of this great trail, whatever the comments might be!

The City of Greater Bendigo Council, who is the manager of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, has assisted by creating a feedback form facility on-line. As the person providing the feedback, you are able to choose the amount of detail provided, and whether you would like a personal response.

The O'Keefe Rail Trail Logo

So please leave your comments about those O’Keefe Rail Trail experiences, and any suggestions, by completing the feedback form via this link, as your contribution to assist the trail’s future users.

‘Creeks with No Names’ Interview

ABC Central Victoria Radio’s Breakfast program announcer, Jo Printz, interviewed Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail’s President Garry Long on 11 August 2015. The topic was the O’Keefe Rail Trail and those ‘Creeks with No Names’!

The group has this project that is seeking community input into the naming of certain waterways, which some of the trail’s seventeen bridges cross, as a number of these usually dry waterways appear not to be formally named.

The interview can be listened to via this link.

Creeks with no names!

With the upgrading and extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail has come fourteen (14) new trail bridges, making a total of seventeen (17) bridges crossing various waterways along the 50km trail. When the railway line was originally built in 1887-1888, there were initially 50 bridges constructed by Andrew O’Keefe’s company! Upon recent investigations, a number of these waterways crossed by the now 17 bridges appear not to be officially named in 2015.

An O'Keefe Rail Trail bridge. Photo: Garry Long

The O’Keefe Rail Trail bridge over Mt Ida Creek. Photo: Garry Long

So why not put a recognised name to these waterways? Such would not only assist the trail manager, City of Greater Bendigo Council, to easily identify bridge assets or help with trail maintenance; naming could also assist emergency services and would also be a point of interest for trail users.

Is this 'Racecourse Flat Creek'? Photo: Garry Long

Could this be ‘Racecourse Flat Creek’ at Knowsley? Photo: Garry Long

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail have taken up this waterway naming challenge as a new project. Not only to seek out possible names that could related to historical links or natural environment-phenomena, yet also investigate a means to fund the manufacture and installation of naming signs at each waterway. Such donations may come from family connections, comapnies or individual donors. Suggested names will be submitted to the appropriate official land management authority for approval.

The waterways crossed by the following trail bridges (with trail locations), have these ‘suggested’ names –

Bridge #3 – Somerset Park Rd – Bennetts Rd:                               ‘Homebush Creek’

Bridge #4 – Somerset Park Rd – Bennetts Rd:                               ‘Carex Creek’

Bridge #7 – Bowles Rd – Giris Rd:                                                ‘Sawpit Gully Creek’ or ‘Melaleuca Creek’

Bridge #8 – Bowles Rd – Giris Rd:                                                ‘Blind Gully Creek’

Bridge #11 – Moorabbee Rd – Moorabbee Foreshore Rd:               ‘Racecourse Flat Creek’

Bridge #12– Moorabbee Rd – Moorabbee Foreshore Rd:                ‘Sims Creek’

Bridge #13– Moorabbee Foreshore Rd – Derrinal Station Ln:        ‘Glacier Creek’ or ‘Jenkins Creek’

Bridge #15– Old Bendigo Rd – Hills Rd:                                       ‘Wallace Creek’

Bridge #16– Hills Rd – Mia Mia-Derrinal Rd:                                 ‘Evans Gully Creek’

Bridge #17– Mia Mia-Derrinal Rd – Speed St:                          ‘Parsons Gully Creek’ or ‘Wattle Gully Creek’

Contributions, that included related information, are sort for the naming of these waterways. Such can be emailed to or PO Box 578 Bendigo 3552, before 31 August 2015.

Missing ’80 mile’ marker post returns

One by one, the missing historic railway marker posts (mile posts) are returning to the former Wandong (Wallan) to Bendigo Railway reserve. Most of the original concrete posts were removed when the recovery of the former railway infrastructure happened about 40 years ago, with only very few of the originals being left behind.

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail’s member Ken Hanson has been busy with a small yet expanding project over the past few years. Ken has produced replica concrete posts, each with individual cast numbers (numbered 73 to 100) and painted white with black numbers. Where to place them? Ken has measured the original ‘mile’ distances, so as to locate each post along the current and extending O’Keefe Rail Trail. Amazingly, Ken has sometimes even located the exact spot where the original post’s hole once was! Then, when the time was right, he has been ‘planting’ each of the new replica posts beside the rail trail.

The 80 mile post returns to Derrinal

The ’80 mile’ marker post returns to Derrinal – O’Keefe Rail Trail Dec 2014

The latest one to be installed was the ‘80’ post, in the Derrinal area, yet mechanical help was needed to ‘plant’ this one into its new position. This is due to the post’s location being at an original railway cutting. Once the extending O’Keefe Rail Trail is completed in this section, the ’80 mile’ post will be there for all to see, thanks to Ken’s efforts!

Seeking Former Railway Line History

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group are desperately seeking items of local history, individual’s reflections, photos, memorabilia, oral history, anything related to the former Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Railway (Wallan to Bendigo).

Heathcote Railway Station. 1907

Heathcote Railway Station 1907. Heathcote McIvor Times series-La Trobe Library


History related to the building of Lake Eppalock (that caused the closure of the Heathcote to Bendigo section of the line in 1958), ‘Stranger Rock’, transporting cut timber from local sawmills at the Heathcote, Derrinal, and Knowsley Stations, VR employees, all could be triggers for ‘living the history’  that are placed at certain locations along the new O’Keefe Rail Trail.

From such, it is hoped that interesting and informative interpretive boards can be created and placed along the O’Keefe Rail Trail, perhaps at former station sites like Axedale, Axedale Racecourse, Derrinal, Knowsley, Heathcote, Longlea, Strathfieldsaye, Rangelea, Rifle Butts, and even at the North Bendigo Workshops (which had nearly 700 employees at one stage!). Such items will be a way of informing future generations about this lost transport route, as well as something to excite the history seekers!

Such historical information (originals will be returned by post) can be sent to –

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

P.O. Box 578 Bendigo, Vic. 3552

or Email: