Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Category Archives: Works

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.

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!

Trail construction continues in the Derrinal area

Work continues on extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale to Heathcote, with the Derrinal area being the current focus.

A challenging area for trail planning and construction, the decision to place a certain section of the new trail on the original railway alignment did have ramifications. This particular alignment had the old railway track bed forming part of another bed, that of Lake Eppalock! Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, water may be all that you can see in this area! The outcome saw the construction of O’Keefe Rail Trail’s Lake Eppalock Causeway during a ‘window’ while lake water levels were low. A massive earthmoving task, with the shifting of nearly 100,000 cubic metres of soil, then installing a 90m steel bridge over the Mt Ida Creek.

O'Keefe Rail Trail's Lake Eppalock Causeway under construction

O’Keefe Rail Trail’s Lake Eppalock Causeway under construction

While the trail crossing of the lake is still closed to the public, until the works for this section are fully completed, construction of the trail continues southwards with a bypass of the original Derrinal Railway Station site.

Trail construction creates and exit from the former rail cutting

Trail construction creates a new exit/entry point from the former rail cutting

The bypass has meant 1000s of cubic metres of soil being required to construct the new trail bed, much of this new trail alignment being located within forested road reserves (but not shared with vehicles) in Derrinal.

Trail's Derrinal area (bypass section) construction in progress

Trail’s Derrinal area (bypass section) construction in progress

While the Knowsley area of the proposed new trail route has been ‘skipped over’ for the present time, the O’Keefe Rail Trail is edging closer towards Heathcote each week. Are you excited, are your 2015 ‘escape’ plans being firmed up?

Construction update – Lake Eppalock area

Good progress is being made on the Lake Eppalock-Mt Ida Creek section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail extension project. These photos were taken during April 2014, and show sections of the associated earthworks that will form a new causeway across the lake.

Bridge approach causeway, within Lake Eppalock. A beautiful backdrop, with existing trees retained on either side of this new section of rail trail. Photo: Les Lewis

Bridge approach causeway, within Lake Eppalock. A beautiful backdrop, with existing trees retained on either side of this new section of rail trail. Photo: Les Lewis

This new causeway will follow the original railway alignment, yet previously there was no lake at this section of the former railway when it was closed in 1958. With the level of the original railway ‘road bed’ being flooded by the 1960’s built lake-reservoir, and water-wave action eroding it away, now major earth works  are required. These works are to ensure that the selected route for the new rail trail section remains above the normal high water level of the lake.

A Hancock loader is being used for earthworks. Photo: Les Lewis

A Hancock loader is being used for earthworks. Photo: Les Lewis

Construction activity on site continues, as the winter window of opportunity narrows. With the lake’s water level expected to again begin its seasonal rise in the coming 1-2+ months, it is a race against time to complete the earth filled causeway.

 

An April 2014 photo of the bridge construction at Mt Ida Creek. Photo Les Lewis

An April 2014 photo of the bridge construction at Mt Ida Creek. Photo Ken Hanson

While the trail bridge in this section is now nearing completion, the lake crossing area is still under construction zone conditions. Therefore the general public should not enter this area until work is finally completed, due to safety hazards, the need for site inductions, and mandatory requirement to wear personal safety equipment items. The City of Greater Bendigo Council is the project manager, and enquiries should directed to (03)54346000.

New bridge is near completion

The current O’Keefe Rail Trail project has had a number of milestones over the past four years, none more prominent than the new trail bridges. The latest is the 9th new bridge that is now nearing completion, and will be the longest steel bridge on the trail.

O'Keefe Rail Tail bridge #9

Constructing O’Keefe Rail Trail bridge #9

 

At 90 metres in length, this new bridge will help the trail extension to bridge another gap between Axedale and Heathcote townships. The Heathcote community and businesses are greatly anticipating this new trail, as an expected valuable tourism drawcard to the area.

Bridging a Trail Vision

The current O’Keefe Rail Trail project continues between Axedale and Heathcote towns. This exciting new extension has recently shown the public new indications of where the trail’s route will be, along lost sections of the former Wallan to Bendigo railway line.

 

ImageThe O’Keefe Rail Trail’s 9th new trail bridge, shown under construction.

 

Rail Trail Upgrades

With the support of the City of Greater Bendigo Council staff and Councillors, upgrade maintenance works continue to improve the older sections of the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Bridges

Two aging timber trail bridges, between McIvor Hwy and Cashens Rd Junortoun, are currently having rotting and white ant affected deck timbers replaced. Trail users should take care, and avoid this area until works are completed. A bypass can be made via the McIvor Hwy or Trotting Tce.

Longlea Area

The section of the O’Keefe trail, between the Peppercorn Park and Sweenies Creek bridge Longlea, was in poor condition. The surface retained water after rains, creating difficulties negotiating mud areas, grew weeds, and had no gravel surface in place. This section of trail has now been fully reconstructed, including a small realignment to improve safety, with new drainage, improved ‘crown’ profile, and a important new gravel surface.

The outcome is a great improvement for all trail users, especially during the winter months.

The photo below capturing the visual mystery of a winter’s morning fog, taken from the Sweenies Creek bridge!

 

Upgraded trail  - Peppercorn Park to Sweenies Crk bridge, Longlea

Completed upgrade of the O’Keefe Rail Trail at Longlea. Photo: Garry Long.

 

Axedale Area Works

The trail is currently being reconstructed, between Giris Road and Hickey Road, in the Axedale area. With 2 to 3% gradient, this section was notorious for its surface washaways, exposed rock reefs and the loss of any remaining gravel. It was a potential safety hazard for any trail users! Identified as a priority, full reconstruction works by council’s contractor are continuing, with a new gravel surface to be applied in the near future.

While this Axedale section is now open, trail users must taken care, especially with the recent rainfall impacting upon the surface. Once the new trail base’s moisture content improves, these works are expected to be completed quickly.

Hickey Rd Axedale - trail upgrades. Photo: G.Long

Hickey Rd Axedale – trail upgrades. Photo: Garry Long

Recent repainting of all the O’Keefe Rail Trail signs, from the Bendigo Creek Trail to Axedale, has been completed by members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail. The result has added a fresh new look to those older sections of the trail!

 

Culvert replacment

One of the original railway timber culverts was still being utilised by the rail trail near Hickey Rd Axedale, yet unfortunately this aging culvert had become a safety hazard to trail users. A responsive council works supervisor, Pat Connelly, dealt with the problem in a prompt manner and so delivering another improvement to the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

ulvert replacement - Hickey Rd, Axedale. Photo: G.Long

Culvert replacement – Hickey Rd, Axedale. Photo: Garry Long

 

Trail Awareness Reporting

Trail users are encouraged to report issues relating to the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s condition, or concerning activities by members of the public, to Customer Service at the City of Greater Bendigo (54346000 or requests@bendigo.vic.gov.au). Matters that are of a more urgent law enforcement or emergency nature, should be reported by phoning 000.

 

Axedale area bypass nearing completion

Much has been happening with the construction of new sections of the O’Keefe Rail Trail extension by City of Greater Bendigo Council contractors. Due to land use change (the golf course, a bluestone quarry expansion, and private land ownership) of the former railway reserve in the Axedale area, the extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail had to negotiate much of this on its extension to Heathcote project.

The total planned bypass of Axedale is nearing completion, with urban asphalt paths, new gravel surfaced sections, utilising the natural river environment, a new ‘tunnel’ under the highway, a new iconic concrete trail bridge across the Campaspe River, and now an ‘at grade’ crossing of the McIvor Hwy for the connection to the Knowsley Forest. Work on upgrading the planned trail route within the Knowsley Forest has not yet commenced, although this is expected to begin within the next 2-3 months.

Photos of this most recent trail section to be opened for public use –

Heading east towards Brownes Rd Axedale photo

Trail heads east, towards Brownes Rd Axedale (photo L.Splliane)

The trail’s Inghams Rd to Brownes Rd to Toolleen-Axedale Rd section of the Axedale area bypass is located within the McIvor Highway reserve, yet trail users will have good separation from road traffic.

New trail near McIvor Hwy and Toolleen-Axedale Rd intersection.

New trail near McIvor Hwy and Toolleen-Axedale Rd intersection. (photo L.Spillane)

The crossing point for the trail with the McIvor Hwy will require care by trail users, as highway speed at this point is 100km/h. With good sighting vision available, this should provide a safe crossing point for the trail.

This way to the Knowsley Forest - McIvor Hwy crossing photo

This way to the Knowsley Forest! McIvor Hwy crossing (photo L.Spillane)

Once the McIvor Highway is crossed, heading south, the trail is located within the highway reserve. This section leads to the edge of the Knowsley Forest, a place to watch for wallabies and other wild life.

PS: There have been reports of recent sightings of platypus in the Campaspe River from the rail trail, a definate highlight if you are so lucky to do same while exploring the trail!