Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trail Upgrade Works in Progress

Notice for all O’Keefe Rail Trail users. Trail upgrade works are underway in the section Bennetts Rd to Hodges Lane in Junortoun.

Please obey warning signs, respect any directional requests being made by the contractor’s staff, as well as being aware and respectful of machinery.

The time frame for this work is from Thursday 19 May, and the completion is expected to be by Friday 27 May (weather permitting).

Night Ride Lights Up the O’Keefe Rail Trail

The O’Keefe Challenge’s ‘Light The Trail’ 2022 night ride event saw riders being able to choose two distances to cycle after dark, both utilising the O’Keefe Rail Trail on Friday 13 May. One option was the full Bendigo to Heathcote distance of 50kms, while the more popular was an Axedale to High St Heathcote that had those riders cycling 27.5kms.

With rain threatening during the day, the night riders were still keen to be judged on the best presented bike and colourful cyclist’s outfit as they waiting at the start lines. While coloured lights were decorating bikes and riders, brighter lights showed riders a clear way ahead along the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Riders and light beams cross the O’Keefe Rail Trail bridge, Knowsley.

The final destination for all riders was Heathcote, and the finishing rider’s celebrations were held at Palling Bros Brewery that included a free BBQ meal and a live band performance.

The end of the ‘Light The Trail’ ride.

Some of the event’s riders who started from Bendigo extended their experience, by staying in Heathcote accommodation overnight. Then after a Saturday morning breakfast, the group rode the rail trail’s 50kms back to Bendigo. Those riders were definitely well prepared to enjoy all of what the event had to offer, while celebrating the success of the final O’Keefe Challenge event for 2022!

Marathon and More Run Rail Trail

Crowds watched the finish of the O’Keefe Challenge running events on Sunday 1 May in Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve, as event runners arrived from the Marathon (42.195kms), Half Marathon, 10km Run, 5km Run/Walk, 1km Kids Dash and a 500m Superhero Kids Dash to cross the finish line. These events had increased numbers of entrants, and were designed to cater for all levels of fitness and experience.

Runners of all fitness levels participated in the various events. Photo: AJTaylor Images, Photos of Bendigo

All events celebrated fitness, natural environments, and the community spirit of the Heathcote region, while raising funds for the Heathcote Dementia Village Project. The O’Keefe Rail Trail was again considered an excellent route and running surface for the Marathon and Half Marathon events, with many runners achieving their personal bests.

Ekiden Relay’s Team ‘Very Dangerous Over Short Distances’ came 7th(3:52:10). Photo: AJTaylor Images Photos of Bendigo

The first placed Marathon male runner across the Barrack Reserve finish line was Jamie Cook (time 2:32:38) and the first female runner was Erchana Murray-Bartlett (time 3:15:35). The Half Marathon event saw male runner Andrew Carey (1:14:22) and female entrant Kimberly Egan (1:36:40) cross the finish line to loud applause. Full event results can be found at https://bit.ly/39ld2FQ. Event photos can be obtained from Marathon Event Photos of Bendigo.

Explored the Forest in Maiden Gully

Well away from road traffic, exploring off-road forest tracks as well as the site of a former historic eucalyptus oil distillery, members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail enjoying this and more during their ‘Last Wednesday of the Month” ride activity in April.

Gathering in Maiden Gully, the nine members headed out on their bikes into the Bendigo Regional Park using made forest tracks. One of the points of interest to observe was where the Bullock Creek begins, a large dam and the remains of a former distillery. Some riders chose e-bikes for the ride, which enabled all to enjoy the varied natural scenery together.

The remains of the distillery being inspected by the group. Photo: Judy McLaren

Of course these monthly rides inevitably end with taking time out to socially review the ride over a coffee. So after riding a total of 21kms, it was time to park the bikes and place orders at the Maiden Gully bakery. The next Wednesday ride activity will be held on Wednesday 25 May.

Glow In the Dark Rail Trail!

The City of Greater Bendigo is trialling the installation of photoluminescent (glow in the dark) line marking along a section of the Bendigo Creek Trail as well as a connecting short asphalt section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail, in partnership with the Department of Transport.

O”Keefe Rail Trail gets photoluminescent line marking. Photo: Garry Long

City of Greater Bendigo Engineering Manager Ian McLauchlan said “This new line marking product looks and functions like ordinary line marking in daylight but emits stored light which enhances its visibility when dark.”

It is believed that photoluminescent line-marking may provide a cost-effective solution to assist users to safely navigate pathways in low light and night-time conditions. The council will be evaluating the success of this trial, to see if this product can be used for safety purposes in other parts of Greater Bendigo in the future.

O’Keefe Rail Trail Attracts Funding

The City of Greater Bendigo council’s proposed 2022/2023 Budget has been made public for community feedback. In a media release by the council’s Mayor and CEO, this included a statement that “The proposed Budget includes a car park and toilet at Longlea Lane on the O’Keefe Rail Trail…”

Council has indicated that “The project will detail design and construct a 16 vehicle gravel carpark, 2 accessible & unisex toilets, shelter, seating, bike racks and a rainwater tank for community members to rest or begin their journey along the O’Keefe Rail Trail.”

City of Greater Bendigo’s media release

The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group have been seeking council’s support for such a trail facility for a number of years, which is due in part to the popularity of the trail’s Longlea location. While it is indicated that this project is being allocated $250,000, council now seeks community feedback on its whole proposed budget, before a final version of the budget is adopted at council’s 20th June meeting. Feedback (and support for this O’Keefe Rail Trail project) can be made via Let’s Talk Greater Bendigo (https://bit.ly/36FQ9f6) until 5pm on Monday 16th May.

A Big Challenge happening on the O’Keefe Rail Trail

With the O’Keefe Challenge events to be held on the 29th Apr and 1st May, training efforts are gaining pace as marathon runners focus on the O’Keefe Rail Trail for results.

To assist with this event’s planning, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members have been identifying trail sections in need of maintenance, such as trail surface repairs as well as bridge decking. Working closely with the City of Greater Bendigo council, this cooperation has recently seen council’s contractors undertake upgrading works along the older Bendigo-Axedale section plus a section within the Heathcote urban area.

O’Keefe Rail Trail maintenance works in progress. Photo: Garry Long

The O’Keefe Challenge events will not only showcase this popular rail trail to entrants and visitors, the event’s generated funds will be directed to the Heathcote Dementia Alliance for its efforts in establishing the proposed Heathcote Dementia Village.

Whether a serious marathon runner, a 5 km run or walk participant or a cyclist attracted by the excitement of the ‘Light the Trail’ night ride event, all participants will appreciate having community volunteers manning the Aid Stations and as road marshals. The volunteers will be there to ensure the entrant’s safety, provide support, plus possibly helping them to achieve their personal goals.

Additional volunteers are still required for the Sunday 1st May events, so for spending just a couple of hours of your time will make a whole lot of difference for conducting the events. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Judy on hello@theokeefe.com.au or 0400390381, with your offer to be available.

Event registrations are still open, and can be made on-line at https://www.theokeefe.com.au

Community Efforts Work

On a sunny Autumn Sunday, community members armed with hoes, rakes and secateurs came together intending to further improve the section of a former railway reserve near Hidden Valley and Wallan. The planned 10th April Sunday working bee, the third one held, was well attended by members of Wallan Environmental Group, Mitchell Bicycle User Group and Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, all working hard having one goal in mind.  

Friends members Colin Scott and Les Lewis tackle blackberry growth in one of the trail’s significant cuttings. Photo: Garry Long

Various woody weeds, including large blackberry infestations, were in the sights of those involved as they further cleared sections of this former railway line’s reserve. The immediate goal is to have this section as an enjoyable walking and cycling pathway, through an amazing natural bushland reserve. Although much more work is still needed, the pathway is now usable by local residents. The bigger goal is to incorporate this pathway into an off road trail linking Wallan to Kilmore. Furthermore, parts of that route (if not all) will ultimately be included in the Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail.

With Mitchell Shire council having already approved the rail trail feasibility study’s final positive report, discussions are continuing with the council in regards to planning aspects of the project (and hopefully a budget allocation) to further progress the development of the Wallan to Kilmore link.

Exploring a Hidden Community Treasure

For some it was a first, yet for others who had worked hard to make a section of the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail accessible for cycling and walking, it was a ‘Show and Tell Day’!

Joining local members of the Mitchell Bicycle User Group, members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail traveled to the Wallan Railway Station for their group’s monthly cycling activity. Here they were joined by Richard Welch (Liberal Party candidate for McEwen), seeking local news about a rail trail’s development. Leaving the station’s carpark, the group of cyclist’s first stop was for coffee in Wallan followed by riding to the Hidden Valley entry point into the former Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Railway (closed in 1968) reserve.

Riders cycling along the former railway embankment. Photo: Garry Long

Following two community working bees, to both clear a path along this overgrown 1.2km section of former railway reserve as well as deal with significant numbers of woody and noxious weeds, these volunteer efforts had now made access to this section of the former railway possible.

Once for made for steam trains, now bike riders travel along the embankment. Video: Garry Long

Located at the top of the Great Dividing Range, this section of the reserve has been hidden away for more than 53 years since the railway was closed. The reserve now has significant amounts of remnant vegetation and native trees that once covered most of the surrounding landscape, until the late 19th century. With increasing numbers of community members becoming involved in creating this local off-road recreation facility in an amazing natural environment, the riders were overjoyed to explore this area as a result of considerable volunteer efforts.

Cyclists pass by the former Leslie Railway Station’s platform area. Photo: Garry Long

With the next working bee planned for Sunday 10th April, to further improve the pathway and work on weed eradication, this activity is seen as another small step towards creating the Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail for the benefit of local communities and businesses.

Counters Count Commuter Cyclists

Joining the thousands of volunteer counters across the country, Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members Rob and Nola Jarvis gave an extra commitment for their involvement in Australia’s largest manual bike count ‘Super Tuesday 2022’ held in March. Bicycle Network conducts Super Tuesday to record volumes, gender, and movement flow of people commuting on bikes, where the Friends group regularly assists with this event.

Yet leading up to this activity, Rob underwent planned surgery to both his knees, so it was uncertain if Rob could still participate being unable to cycle or drive and his walking mobility was relying of the use of crutches. As both are keen cyclists and community minded volunteers, the couple decided that they would both do the count at Rob’s one nominated count site in Strathdale, with Nola driving Rob to the site.

Rob was well equipped for the 2 hour count! Photo: Nola Jarvis

While most Super Tuesday counters stood at their particular site between 7am – 9am, Rob wasn’t able to be a ‘normal’ counter this year. Needing to keep his knees and legs elevated, it was a case of sitting back in a reclining chair for Rob!

As volunteer counters and cyclists, the group members were proud to have collected important data for Bicycle Network and the City of Greater Bendigo council, assisting to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in the Greater Bendigo urban area.

Both Rob and Nola enjoy cycling for exercise and commuting, sharing social time with cycling friends over a coffee, plus one of their favourite rides is to enjoy the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Not only cycling within Victoria, they have both been involved with the Friends group’s trip to New Zealand, where members cycled some of the South Islands trails such as the Central Otago Rail Trail.