Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Works

O’Keefe Rail Trail – Section Closure

The Lake Eppalock section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail will be closed to the public from Monday 25th November to Friday 8th December, 6am to 6pm daily for track upgrade works.

O’Keefe Rail Trail section to be closed

This work will address the damage caused to the trail in 2016 when the lake’s water level exceeded the 100% full level. At that time, closure of the trail was required until the water level receded and council was able to carry out minor works to then allow safe access for trail users.

As no major repair/upgrade works followed, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail made a submission to the Council’s 2019-20 budget, to have restoration and upgrading works carried out on the trail’s causeway across Lake Eppalock. As a result of this submission, budget cover was provided enabling this planned work to now take place.

The City of Greater Bendigo council apologizes for any inconvenience that this closure may cause.

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.

Bendigo Urban Trail Network Focus

The popularity of commuting by bike or walking is on the increase in Bendigo. With past development of urban trails and paths in the Bendigo urban area, this has seen many of these pathways isolated so presenting difficulties with cycling and walking. In some cases, this has introduced hazards when needing to cross high traffic roads such as High St, Napier St and the McIvor Highway.

As a result of the increasing trail usage, there is currently a renewed focus to build safer connections between a number of these existing off-road urban paths and trails. How will this happen, is there a plan, and what outcomes have already been achieved?

Brett Martini, City of Greater Bendigo Council’s Manager for Infrastructure and Open Spaces recently shared some of the plans and progress for networking these trails, when interviewed on O’Keefe Rail Trail TV (episode 9). Brett also highlighted the Council’s future plans to improve urban pathway connections with the O’Keefe Rail Trail, such as an off-road path linking to the Bendigo railway station, the extension of the Spring Gully Trail, and improving the linked Bendigo Bushland Trail.

Three plus One!

What do these three fellas have in common?

Ken, Richard and Lindsay testing out the new table-seat on O'Keefe Rail Trail. 16 Dec 2015 Photo: Les Lewis

Ken, Richard and Lindsay out on the O’Keefe Rail Trail. 16 Dec 2015. Photo: Les Lewis

 

Too difficult to answer?

  1. All are members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail
  2. All have contributed many volunteer hours to projects associated with the O’Keefe Rail Trail
  3. All are wearing a hat, on a hot summer day!!
  4. All have just helped installed another table-seat unit on the O’Keefe Rail Trail

This new table-seat unit and bike hoop racks were purchased and installed by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, with grant funding provided by Strathfieldsaye and Districts Community Enterprise. The location is just off Wilkie Road Junortoun, at the site of the former Strathfieldsaye Railway Station. What a great contribution by the local community, and another trail user facility for the O’Keefe Rail Trail as it adds to the list of Victoria’s premier rail trails.

Underpass improves access to trail

Road underpass connection works near completion. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo

Works to bypass Weeroona Avenue Bendigo, for trail users, near completion. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo

Works are nearing completion on a new pedestrian/bicycle underpass at Weeroona Avenue Bendigo. The path uses the existing concrete creek floor with an entry/exit point midway along Lake Weeroona and joins the Bendigo Creek Trail on the north side of Weeroona Avenue, near the connection point with the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Passing beneath one of General Sir John Monash’s ‘monier arch’ bridges, one of the six remaining built in Bendigo between 1901 and 1902. This particular bridge, named ‘Kings Bridge’, has added history which can be read on a plaque erected nearby by ‘Engineering Australia’ in 2014.

The new road underpass will greatly improve trail users safety, by eliminating the need to cross Weeroona Avenue at street level. These City of Greater Bendigo council works are estimated to cost $98,000.

The Latest News!

While the current O’Keefe Rail Trail upgrade and extension project continues for the Axedale – Heathcote extension, the Knowsley area and Mt Ida Creek-Lake Eppalock sections are both currently CLOSED to the public.

Knowsley area and Mt Ida Creek-Lake Eppalock sections currently closed to the public.

The Knowsley area and Mt Ida Creek-Lake Eppalock sections are both currently closed to the public.

The City of Greater Bendigo Council project’s construction work is expected to have these two closed sections opened for public use later in May 2015.

Regularly checking of the O’Keefe Rail Trail Notes page can provide news on the trail’s status, as well as other points of interest for this trail.

Rail Trail Improvements Continue

Soil erosion, collapsed culverts, loss of gravel surface, retained stormwater, exposed rock reefs were just some of what O’Keefe Rail Trail users have endured over a number of years. Yet that situation, in the Bendigo-Axedale section, has seen positive changes occurring!

Those experiences are becoming a thing of the past, with the efforts of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail to improve this trail. The City of Greater Bendigo Council has also listened to community and trail user feedback. Over the past 2-3 years, the Council has embarked on a maintenance program to address many of the worst sections of the trail.

Machinery at work upgrading the rail trail. Photo: Garry Long

Machinery at work upgrading the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: Garry Long

Maintenance work is currently occurring on the rail trail in the Junortoun area, an outer rural suburb of Bendigo, by a Council contractor. This work is upgrading the trail’s drainage, reconstructing the trail’s profile, and applying a new gravel surface.

New storm water drainage under construction. Photo: Garry Long

New storm water drainage under construction. Photo: Garry Long

Trail users do need to take care in this area, observe warning signs and directives given by Council’s contractor, with machinery presently working in the Wilkie Rd – Somerset Park Rd – Bennetts Rd sections of the trail. For further information regarding these works, trail users can contact the City of Greater Bendigo Council on (03) 54346000.

Feedback received from trail users who may not have been on the trail for many years, and then travelled on those completed sections, have expressed their pleasant surprise at the various improvements made to the trail.

Note: For updates on the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s new extension (Axedale to Heathcote), and gaining an understanding of the trail sections closed to the general public, be informed by reading the Trail Route Notes page.

Dangerous crossing fixed on a Bendigo Trail

How to make a local trail, directly networked to the O’Keefe Rail Trail in North Bendigo, a whole lot safer? Thanks to the efforts of the City of Greater Bendigo staff and Councillors, the Bendigo Creek Trail has recently been re-routed under the High Street bridge plus the trail approaches upgraded in Golden Square.

The Bendigo Creek's new High St Bridge underpass at Golden Square

The Bendigo Creek Trail’s new High St bridge underpass at Golden Square.

Not only have these works eliminated a dangerous high risk crossing of High Street, with minimal vision distance for all users, it will benefit and encourage more local cycle commuters riding to work. This popular trail will also now provide cycling and walking tourists in Bendigo with a much safer experience to talk about.

Congratulations to the City of Greater Bendigo, for listening and eliminating this dangerous crossing. The cycling community now looks forward to Council and State Government addressing the Bendigo Creek Trail’s number one safety hazard and impediment, that being the crossing of the Charing Cross-Alexander Fountain area in the Bendigo CBD.

The Knowsley Forest gains a rail trail

Progress of constructing the extension for O’Keefe Rail Trail has now connected Axedale with the Knowsley Forest, and the township of Knowsley is within eye sight! Work within the Knowsley Forest is nearing completion, as this section of ‘rail trail only’ use utilises a combination of the original railway alignment plus the upgrading of a old forest track.

O'Keefe Rail Trail now within the Knowsley Forest. Photo: Garry Long

O’Keefe Rail Trail within the Knowsley Forest. Photo: Garry Long

One planning challenge for City of Greater Bendigo Council staff managing this project, was selecting a trail route due to land use changes since the old railway line closed and was dismantled. The need to bypass the Axedale Golf Course and the Axedale Quarry (a mineral extraction lease), both now sited on the former railway line alignment, meant extra kilometres of trail needing to be built.

The positive outcome of this new ‘off railway’ section has been to add additional point of interests for the trail, like weaving through Axedale township’s historic attractions, the natural Campaspe River Reserve, the ‘Platypus Compass’, the former Quarry Hotel ruins, plus two small sections of rail trail with a gradient that may challenge some cyclists!

While wallabies bound through the Knowsley Forest and kookaburras are heard laughing in the trees, the rail trail construction continues at a pace in number of locations between the Knowsley Forest and Heathcote.

Bridges return to the former railway line

For the past 56 years since the former railway line closed in the Heathcote to Knowsley area, only failing timber piles from those railway bridges were the visible reminders of these once important structures. Now the bridges are being returned, yet not the original Victorian Railways designed timber bridges to carry railway steam engines and carriages! These bridges are modern designed galvanised dipped steel frame bridges, which will soon take users of the O’Keefe Rail Trail across those various gullies and waterways.

 

Crane contractor assists with the assembly of the steel bridge frames. Photo: Garry Long

Crane contractor assists with the assembly of the steel bridge frames at Knowsley. Photo: Garry Long

These last five trail bridges for the new trail are part of the on-site construction work currently being carried out by contractor Open Space Infrastructure Australia. With the placement of the last steel sections in the One Eye Forest a week ago, by local contractor Central Victorian Cranes, the next stage of bridge construction follows.

A new Knowsley bridge will now shadow the remnant timber piles from the original railway bridge. Photo: Garry Long

A new Knowsley bridge will now shadow the remnant timber piles from the original railway bridge. Photo: Garry Long

The ‘fit out’ work of the remaining bridge elements, such as concrete abutment walls and decking, is now underway. With the completion of each new bridge, this becomes another link in the extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale to Heathcote.