Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Research

Reflecting upon the Past and the Present

Being able to take time out, while out exercising and exploring the O’Keefe Rail Trail, to reflect upon elements of history and also more recent rail trail activity is one of the options currently available to trail users.

O’Keefe Rail Trail interpretive sign “The Timber Line”. March 2020. Photo. Garry Long

With eleven (11) interpretive signs placed at various locations along the rail trail, these signs show reflective historical photos that allow the stories about the former railway’s connections to ‘come to life’. Past activities like wood cutting, loading hay or testing of locally manufactured guns of war, plus more recent links with the rail trail’s development, can take a reader back into a different place in time!

O’Keefe Rail Trail interpretive sign “Marking the Distance”. March 2020. Photo. Garry Long

These signs were an initiative of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group, assisted by funding provided by the City of Greater Bendigo. The collaborative project team of Friends members and Council staff appreciated the support and material provided by various public members and historical sources, to achieve this overall quality outcome.

O’Keefe Rail Trail interpretive sign “Serving the Military”. March 2020. Photo. Garry Long

Some of the researched and selected historic photos plus related information now on display, would not have been readily available previously for viewing by the general public.


Looking for your rail trail feedback!

Perhaps you have just discovered what many have known about for years, the attractive O’Keefe Rail Trail in central Victoria! Yet there are also those who live in the local area and often think “I must check out the O’Keefe trail one day!”

Well as a local, who doesn’t need to undertake any unnecessary travel, perhaps now is the time to do just that. Pull on your walking shoes, or dust off that bike in the shed and head out onto the O’Keefe for some exercise or soak up the natural atmosphere. Then after having a take-away coffee, could you give some feedback on your experience of using this fantastic public recreation facility?

Click on this LINK (the same as is on this web’s home page) and complete the O’Keefe Rail Trail User Feedback survey, it may only take you about 5-10 minutes! We would love to hear from you, so that our community group can better understand the trail, about what you enjoyed, and ideas that you think will improve experiences in the future.

Regional Roads Victoria studies the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s traffic

Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) is conducting a study for the McIvor Highway in the Longlea and Junortoun area. What part will the O’Keefe Rail Trail and its user traffic play in this study’s outcomes?

During this month of March, RRV will be counting the number of pedestrians and cyclists within the Junortoun area through which this highway passes. The active transport study will assess the typical journeys of pedestrians and cyclists, to help understand how people travel and where they might be going. Such is expected to help RRV better understand where people choose to go in the future, especially if there were to be improved paths, crossings, underpasses, and on-road lanes to provide safer access.

As an O’Keefe Rail Trail user you shouldn’t be worried, as RRV is using a number of ways to record travel information therefore such will not identify individual people.

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail have indicated to RRV and the City of Greater Bendigo, the future need for a trail underpass at the crossing point of this highway. It is assumed that such a study will highlight the current commuter and recreational user traffic on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, especially at that point where trail users need to cross this highway with its increasingly busy traffic.

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.