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Linking central Victoria via the old railway line
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 currently being conducted. The Engaging Mitchell web site has details of these Listening Posts’ dates, with the next one being at Wallan on Saturday 11 March, then Tooborac and Wandong will follow at future dates.
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 on-line using the Engaging Mitchell web page’s feedback link. Such feedback will be received until by 5pm on Monday 10 April 2017.
Wanting another reason to visit central Victoria to cycle or walk the O’Keefe Rail Trail? As well as the peaceful off-road natural environment of the rail trail, Heathcote, Axedale and Bendigo have much more to offer.
Bendigo has a number of iconic buildings, many from the 19th century gold rush era. Take a stroll around the CBD by night, see the city’s attractions light up the past and present.
Axedale has now become the half way stop off point from the trail. If the Axedale Tavern’s quirky rooms with old photos on the walls could speak, many stories from the past would and can come to life while having a meal and a drink! Of course the Platypus Compass, located on the trail, is definitely worth a selfie!
Heathcote area is a wine makers delight, as it is ‘shiraz’ country plus many other varieties of wine locally produced. Boutique wineries and accommodation, cellar doors, restaurants, cafes and bakeries, there is even a locally milled natural timber rail trail shelter.
The Mitchell Shire, City of Greater Bendigo and the Victorian State Government have enable a current study to assess the feasibility of a new rail trail from Wallan to Heathcote, for commuting, recreational walkers, cyclists, and possibly horse riders.
The focus for a trail route is a former railway alignment, between Wallan and Heathcote, the connection with O’Keefe Rail Trail (Heathcote – Bendigo), and options to connect this to the Great Victorian Rail Trail as well as the Melbourne metro trail network.
Members of the public are invited to have their say on the trail proposal, the possible route, and to share their related thoughts. up until Monday 20 March 2017.
To provide your feedback, please click this ‘Engaging Mitchell’ link, and complete the general survey or provide an online submission.
The launch of both the Cycle the O’Keefe event and the O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon event for 2017 took place in Bendigo on 9 February. The well attendance audience was provided with information about the overwhelming success of the 2016 marathon events, plus the inclusion to the 2017 marathon of a number of cycling events, by Event Director Sandra Slatter.
With the launch of the newest event focused on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, ‘Cycle the O’Keefe’, this is sure to benefit from the popularity of cycle tourism and cycle events as well as encouraging event participation by individuals, families and the communities of Heathcote, Axedale and Bendigo. Combined with the already successful initial O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon, these two events have the potential to be major flags on the event calendar for central Victoria plus highlighting the O’Keefe Rail Trail as an iconic trail.
Event dates are:
22 April – Cycle the O’Keefe events
23 April – O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon events
Have you seen ‘Gerry’ on your ride or walk along the O’Keefe Rail Trail? Gerry is a regular walker, and has walked sections that incorporate the entire length of the O’Keefe trail at various times. As a keen walker, he has also enjoyed many of Victoria’s trails.
On a day when members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail were out on O’Keefe Rail Trail involved in a working bee, Gerry was passing by just west of Knowsley. He was walking from Heathcote to Axedale, a distance of about 30kms.
“It’s a great way to appreciate the quite atmosphere away from busy roads and urban areas, be immersed in the natural environment, as well as keeping up my fitness level” said Gerry, “This trail, with its surface finish and low gradients, is excellent for walkers of any age.”
Do you know of a public notice board in your location, which has space for information related to the O’Keefe Rail Trail and the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail? Want to know more about trails in central Victoria?
The Friends group is keen to inform the public, walkers, cyclists, those interested in natural environments or railway history, about the O’Keefe Rail Trail and the positive experiences that can be had while using this off-road trail.
Suitable information is available to download directly from the Friends web page ‘Brochures, Maps, Apps, Files, Rides’ or from Bendigo Tourism’s web page O’Keefe Rail Trail. Also printed material may be made available by contacting Bendigo Tourism on 1800813153 or email@example.com. Otherwise a request can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, yet an allowance for processing this last method of request will be required.
Some of Santa’s Helpers were spotted riding along on the O’Keefe Rail Trail this past weekend in East Bendigo! The five riders, dressed in red and white plus matching hats ,were full of laughter and heading from Bendigo to Strathfieldsaye.
Unsure whether Santa on his sleigh (non motorised!) was also expected to be using the trail, yet his helpers were definitely happy not to be mixing their trip (or drinks!!) with the busy pre-Christmas road traffic.
The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail wish their many followers and supporters a safe, happy Christmas and New Year. May you enjoy some ‘escape’ time exploring trails, meeting new friends, spending trail time with family, tasting local wines or produce, perhaps even ‘getting lost’ enjoying the Australian natural bush over the festive holiday season!
Not being taken for granted, International Volunteer Day 2016 has recognised the efforts of volunteers in the Greater Bendigo area.
A celebration was held on 5 December at the Bendigo Town Hall, to say thank you to local volunteers and acknowledge the important role that they play in our community.
Along with approximately 400 attending volunteers, Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail volunteer members who give of their time so generously, attended. Certificates of Recognition were presented by Lisa Chesters MP Federal Member for Bendigo, and City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke, to those who were nominated from the community.
“Volunteers and their organisations have shown what a great job they do, in creating a sense of belonging, social inclusion and build stronger local communities” Ms Chesters said during the ceremony.
Older sections of the O’Keefe Rail Trail over the past 23 years have become a bit ‘battered and bruised’, not only from continual use yet also from harsh weather conditions.
Trail manager, the City of Greater Bendigo Council in conjunction with the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, regularly review the trail conditions to prioritise repair and upgrading work. Due to the past wet winter, with its high rainfall and stormwater run-off, this has expedited the need for certain repair work.
During this winter period there was a collapse of the trail surface along a sewer main in the Junortoun area, which also extended into a section of trail bypass from the original railway alignment. For a final repair, it was decided to re align and fully reconstruct the trail onto the original railway alignment.
With careful consideration to retain as much of the tree regrowth since the railway was dismantled as possible, construction has proceeded on this new section of trail. Trail users are asked to be patient in this area, while this work is being undertaken, with completion expected by 16 December.
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.
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.