Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Trail Development

Trail Network Needs Your Vote!

A local community bid has made the final list of the 2018 ‘Pick My Project’, which this bid now needs local resident’s support. The Junortoun Community Action Group (JCAG) is delighted to advise that their bid for funding of a cycling and walking path, to complete a ‘missing link’ in Junortoun, has made it to the final ‘Pick My Project’ projects list. Pick My Project is a community grants initiative, supported by the Victorian State Government.

This project is proposing to have built a short section of new off-road path/trail, adjacent to Trotting Tce in Junortoun. Local residents now have a chance to support this proposed project, to enable it to succeed.

Reasons to support this project:

  • It is for a cycling and walking related project near the O’Keefe Rail Trail in Junortoun.
  • It completes a missing link, connecting the O’Keefe Rail Trail (via La Valla Court) to the ‘Trotting Tce – Cousins St path’ through the forest to Cousins Street Strathdale.
  • It completes a missing link, connecting the O’Keefe Rail Trail (via La Valla Court) to the new off-road ‘Strathfieldsaye – Junortoun path’ via the McIvor Forest Estate.
  • It will support people within the Junortoun, Strathfieldsaye, Strathdale (and other adjacent Bendigo suburbs) areas to safely and easily access the O’Keefe Rail Trail at Junortoun.
  • It will support young people riding to and from schools in the Junortoun and Strathfieldsaye areas
  • It will provide an easier and safer options for cycling and walking commuters, with off-road transport routes to various destinations.
  • It will help to complete another section of Bendigo’s off-road path/trail network.

To support this worthy project, you need to vote now! Voting is open and closes 5pm Monday 17 September 2018.

Go to Pick My Project web page and type Junortoun into “Browse projects Near You’ field. Suggest selecting the “Cycling and walking path in Junortoun” project into your short list for support (you will need to vote on three projects when submitting your vote). You’ll then be asked to register (with your normal or temporary address to be included). As a regional project, voters must reside within 50kms of the project’s location.

Looking for other related projects to vote on? Perhaps note ‘Bike Love Bike Bendigo’ as well as many other local projects.

Please VOTE now, your country (trails) needs YOU!!your-country-needs-you-1914 imageFurther information regarding the voting progress can be found on the Pick My Project FAQ’s page.

National Tree Day at Axedale

From grandparents to grandchildren, community volunteer participation was the highlight for the 2018 National Tree Day event held at Axedale on Sunday 29 July. This site event was coordinated by Longlea and District Landcare, with support from the City of Greater Bendigo.

Approximately 70 volunteers planted out about 1600 native trees and grasses at the selected Campaspe River Reserve area. National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day combine to make Australia’s largest community tree planting event. aiming to inspire, educate and recruit Australians to actively care for this unique land.

Rail Trail volunteers Zeke, Maika and Mal Ward, Nancy Jarvis, Ken Hanson, and Rob Jarvis

Rail Trail volunteers Zeke, Maika and Mal Ward, Nola Jarvis, Ken Hanson, and Rob Jarvis

With the O’Keefe Rail Trail passing close by the event site, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members assisted other community groups, local school children and individuals for the planting activity. Of course the socially engaging event finished off with a tasty BBQ lunch to be remembered. This new planted area is expected to enhance this river environment, to be enjoyed by rail trail users, fishermen and local walkers in the future years. This may also have a positive impact on the local bird and platypus populations too!

Proposed rail trail one step closer

The proposed 78km Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail is one step closer, to being linked with the 49km O’Keefe Rail Trail and the Melbourne urban trail network, as reported by the Bendigo Advertiser (26 March 2018 on-line edition).

While nearly 80 per cent of people consulted for the feasibility study were in favour of the rail trail being implemented, of the 37 private landowners of the former railway reserve (or linked to this reserve) interviewed, 27 objected to the trail.

Such objections, as recorded by the independent feasibility study consultants, were largely related to access to those landowner’s properties i.e. of the actual former railway reserve, rather than the concept of creating the rail trail itself. Other individuals in the Pyalong area have indicated their personal concern about the Mitchell Shire being responsible for future maintenance costs associated with the proposed trail.

The Mitchell Shire has indicated that a Trail Working Group will be established, providing the opportunity to take into consideration the concerns of individual landowners and residents, as well as seeking input from government bodies e.g. DELWP and individuals with rail trail expertise.

 

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

 

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.

Volunteers create a future natural environment trail corridor

One of the attractions of the O’Keefe Rail Trail is it provides an escape into a natural environment, a reserve that can be close to urban areas, be within forests, stretching across a lake, or adjoining farming properties. The landscape through which the trail passes is quite varied, which creates a special ‘formula’ that makes such trails popular and enjoyable.

Over a number of years, both the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail and the Longlea Landcare group have assisted to re-vegetate sections of the former railway reserve that had lost most of the native trees and grasses. For the 2017 National Tree Day, a section of trail close to the McIvor Hwy in Junortoun was selected to be re-vegetated with tube stock plants. The City of Greater Bendigo’s Parks staff supported the project, by deep ripping the soil in preparation and also providing 1000 trees and grasses.

Volunteers planting and mulching on O'Keefe Rail Trail, Junortoun.

Volunteers planting and mulching along the O’Keefe Rail Trail, Junortoun.

While storm clouds drifted past in the distance, volunteers armed with shovels turned up to ‘get their hands dirty’ on the day, as well as enjoying some socialising with others. Thankfully the rain storm held off, and after just a few hours of effort, viewing a sea of tree guards protecting the new plants was a very satisfying sight for all those present.

With occasional care, the area will become a new section of natural ‘bush’, to be enjoyed by the local community and trail users. This will also provide native birds and animals with an area to breed, feed, and shelter in, part of a continuous natural corridor. Through the willingness of these volunteers on one day, their efforts will create a ‘win win’ situation for all!

Guest Speakers have an interesting story to tell!

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail’s Annual General Meeting will be on Tuesday 10th October at the Cycling Rooms, Tom Flood Centre, Water Street Bendigo, commencing at 6:45pm.

The public is welcome to attend the AGM (6:45 – 7:30pm), to hear of the various activities that the Friends’ group has been involved with over the past 12 months. Some of this activity has been associated with the O’Keefe Rail Trail, the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail, and general involvement to create better cycling opportunities in the Greater Bendigo area. After the AGM supper, there will be a General Meeting held which all are welcome to attend.

Andy Bos and Paula Ewing of Tread Harcourt.

Andy Bos and Paula Ewing of Tread Harcourt.

AGM guest speakers will be Andy Bos and Paula Ewing, sharing information about two interesting topics close to their hearts. The community involvement process in seeking approval and funding to develop a Mt Alexandra Mountain Bike Park, which resulted in positive outcomes now unfolding, and also the developing innovative ‘Tread Harcourt’, a centre for cycling, accommodation, and cycle tours.

Railway Gates Return to Heathcote

It’s not that long ago when motorists often faced wooden railway gates at road crossings within Melbourne’s metro train network, closed by VR staff to prevent motor vehicles proceeding when trains were scheduled.

Yet who would have guessed that most early regional Victorian Railway (VR) lines also had such gates at many relatively low traffic rural road crossings in the late 19th century. This was so for the original Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst line, built 1888-1890. At that time, each gate installation had a permanent Gate Keeper plus a railway house as well. One such Gate Keeper’s house still remains in Heathcote. Most rural railway gates were removed during the early part of the 20th century.

Seeking to reinstate elements of former railway historical infrastructure, on the now O’Keefe Rail Trail, Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members were keen to obtain a set of original railway gates. After a long search, an old set of stored gates in a poor state were finally located in Melbourne, and then subsequently approved for allocation to the group by PTV. With a City of Greater Bendigo Community Grant awarded, and assistance from Semi Trailer Sales Pty Ltd, Friends member Ken Hanson set about leading a project to rebuild these gates in Bendigo.

Refurbished railway gates arrive in Heathcote. Photo: Ken Hanson

Refurbished railway gates arrive in Heathcote. Photo: Ken Hanson

With additional assistance from Powercor, Council, Lions Club of Heathcote, and painter John Mead, the 6-metre-long gates were installed with their final coat of paint being applied at Heathcote. This siting was close to an original gates location at Herriot St, near the former Heathcote Railway Station.

Railway gates provide access to Heathcote Lions Club's Rail Trail Shelter. Photo: Garry Long

Railway gates provide access to Heathcote Lions Club’s Rail Trail Shelter. Photo: Garry Long

The gates now provide a ‘safe’ pathway for trail users into the Lions Club’s rail trail shelter area, a great place to meet people, and enjoy what the O’Keefe Rail Trail now has to offer.

Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail Feasibility Study Closing!

The Wallan to Heathcote feasibility study’s community feedback stage is drawing to a close. The final date for feedback is 5pm Monday 10th April, therefore members of the various communities that are likely to benefit from such a trail, or individuals who would like to raise any points of view,  plus general trail users, are all encouraged to complete the feedback form.

This feedback can easily be completed on the Engaging Mitchell web page’s ‘Complete form‘ link.

'Pink Cliffs' cutting, Pyalong. Photo: G Long

‘Pink Cliffs’ cutting, Pyalong. Photo: G Long

Further information can also be obtained from http://wp.me/ptMbe-2kM

Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail Study seeks public feedback

A proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail has the Victorian State Government, Mitchell Shire, and City of Greater Bendigo co-funding a study to assess the feasibility of a new 65km rail trail, from Wallan to Heathcote for recreational walkers, cyclists, and possibly horse riders.

Such a trail may connect, via a safe off-road trail, the communities of Wallan, Heathcote Junction, Wandong, Kilmore, Pyalong, Tooborac, and Heathcote. Linking with the O’Keefe Rail Trail, such connection may also link with the communities of Knowsley, Axedale, Junortoun and Bendigo.

The study is at the community and landowner consultations phase, with a series of Listening Posts being conducted. The Engaging Mitchell web site has details of these Listening Posts’ dates and more information.

The Heathcote Bush Market's Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail Listening Post. 4 March 2017. Photo: G.Long

The Heathcote Bush Market’s Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail Listening Post. 4 March 2017. Photo: G.Long

Feedback by the public on the proposal is also being encouraged, either by completing the feedback form at the Listening Posts, sending a completed form via Aust Post, or an on-line survey using the Engaging Mitchell web page’s feedback link. Such feedback will be received until by 5pm on Monday 10 April 2017.