Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

New attraction for the O’Keefe Rail Trail

The former Wallan to Bendigo railway had trains carrying passengers and goods for most of the 70 years for the Bendigo – Heathcote section, between 1888 and 1958. The O’Keefe Rail Trail has been located on sections of this former railway reserve since 1992.

An initiative of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group was to create another link between the rail trail and that former railway, with an historic static display of a 20th century railway wagon. The location for this display was to be the former Axedale Railway Station site, where a replica platform had recently been constructed by the group. Not only is this an historic link with a past means of transport, it is also expected to be an educational opportunity for school children and younger adults.

This project has just recently taken another step forward from the planning stage, with the delivery of a former Victorian Railways ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon. Also as an added historic link to the Bendigo area, this particular wagon was one of a number manufactured at the VR North Bendigo Railway Workshops between 1955 and 1957.

A 'GY' Railway Wagon returns to Axedale. Photo: G.Long

A ‘GY’ Railway Wagon returns to Axedale. Photo: G.Long

The transportation of the wagon to Axedale was made possible by a community grant provided by the Fosterville Gold Mine and Kirkland Lake Gold. This grant has been very much appreciated by the group, as was the assistance provided by local transport company A2B Move It. The project’s next stage will see the refurbishment of the wagon for public display.

Rail Trail Strikes Gold

A community grant will help to have an historic railway wagon return to Axedale, where steam loco hauled goods trains were once loaded and unloaded as an important means of transport. Fosterville Gold Mine and Kirkland Lake Gold 2018 Community Grant program has awarded the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail a $2000 grant, which will help the project relocating an original Victorian Railways ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon to Axedale.

Fosterville Gold Mine Trudi Jackson presents grant to Friends members Rob Nelson and Mal Ward.

Fosterville Gold Mine Trudi Jackson presents grant to Friends members Rob Nelson and Mal Ward.

This historic static display area is the location of the original Axedale Railway Station, an additional point of interest for O’Keefe Rail Trail users…and perhaps the cause of a ‘selfie’ or two to be taken! The Friends community group plan to refurbish the wagon for public display, and as an educational location for school students. Kirkland Lake Gold is thanked for supporting this community initiative, another instance of business companies assisting the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s development.

 

Mayor says “Thank You”

The City of Greater Bendigo council thanked its volunteers with a special morning tea held at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre on 24 May, as part of National Volunteer Week.

In 2018, the City has more than 500 volunteers who contribute around 30,000 hours per year to assist delivering important services to the community and the local region.

National Volunteer Week, City of Greater Bendigo Morning Tea 24 June 2018. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo

National Volunteer Week, City of Greater Bendigo Morning Tea 24 June. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo

Some of the enthusiastic Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members joined with others to hear the Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke extend a big “Thank You” to all who were present as well as those who were unable to attend. It was also an opportunity for attendees to meet other volunteers, to hear of their positive contributions being made not only to benefit the local community yet also adding to the experience of visitors to the region.

Lighting up the O’Keefe Rail Trail

The O’Keefe Challenge certainly gained support from both runners, walkers and cyclists over the April event weekend. While the running events, such as the marathon and half marathon attracted record entries, a new cycling event was conducted for the first time in 2018.

‘Light The Trail’ was a cycling event held on the Friday evening of the popular event weekend. With this event commencing in Axedale at 7pm, cyclists were encouraged to also ‘light up’ themselves and their bikes with coloured decorative lights. The route followed the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale to Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve, a distance of 27.6kms, with cyclists relying only on their bright bike lights to see the trail ahead. While not a race, the lead riders did cover the distance in under 1hr 15mins, while most riders just enjoyed a more leisurely pace!

Very bright Light The Trail participants! Photo: G.Long

Some of the very bright ‘Light The Trail’ participants! Photo: G.Long

 

Riders get ready at the event start, Axedale. Photo: G.Long

A section of riders getting ready at the event start, Axedale. Photo: G.Long

A light supper was available for all riders at the finish, as well as a free bus with bike trailer providing transport back to Axedale. And yes, there were some riders who decided to ride the rail trail back to Axedale later that evening ……perhaps to gain just a little more of the great experience that the night event had provided!

Rail Trail Attracts Runners

The third O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon community organised events attracted 800 individual runners on Sunday 22 April, utilising various sections of the O’Keefe Rail Trail as part of the O’Keefe Challenge.

O'Keefe Rail Trail Marathon runners cross Lake Eppalock. Photo Bendigo Advertiser

O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon runners cross Lake Eppalock. Photo: Bendigo Advertiser 22 April 2018

“We are really lucky in Bendigo and Heathcote to have this track, and it’s just so good to be able to share that with people.” said Race Director Nigel Preston. “We finished at the oval in Heathcote for the first time, which was a great setting for the finish.”

The marathon event attracted 114 runners, starting in Junortoun, and 120 entered the half marathon commencing in Knowsley, whilst other participants entered in the 5km, 10km plus the other running and walking events starting in Heathcote.

Bendigo athlete and former triathlete Leon Griffen won the marathon, in a time of two hours and 35 minutes, being a credible time compared with the marathon world record of two hours and two minutes.

“It was his first attempt and Leon did super well,” Mr Preston said. “Our course is pretty tough, there’s varied terrain and gravel surface for most of it, plus the second half is gradually up hill.”

For the first time a ‘Light the Trail’ cycling event was a lead in event on the Friday night, using the O’Keefe Rail Trail and only bike lights. This event proved popular, starting at Axedale and finishing in Heathcote.

 

The O’Keefe Challenge, its all about timing!

There is still time to register for events this weekend being held on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, yet you need to be quick!! Take on The O’Keefe Challenge, by either running, walking or cycling on the historic O’Keefe Rail Trail. The first cycle event, ‘Light The Trail’, is on Friday April 20 starting at 7pm. All the other events are on Sunday 22 April when Heathcote comes alive!

Registration open until April 18. Find out more now at www.bendigotourism.com/…/6412-the-o-keefe-run-cycle-walk-an…

Bendigo and Bikes Recognised

The Bendigo community’s love of cycling has helped it to snare an award not made to a city outside of the United States, until now.

The Greater Bendigo has become the first community in Australia to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, accredited by CycleLifeHQ.

Bendigo’s silver accreditation recognises Bendigo’s community engagement and bicycle education, the inclusion of bicycle facilities as part of road infrastructure projects, maintenance of off-road cycling facilities and the integration of bicycle planning with community facilities.

The Bicycle Friendly Community accreditation program has been run in the United States for more than two decades by the League of American Bicyclists, with more than 430 Bicycle Friendly Communities recognised in the USA.

Bendigo city snares an award – Channel Nine Central Victoria News

Bendigo will also host two major cycling conferences in 2018, cementing its reputation as a leading bike-friendly destination. In October, Bendigo will host the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference and the Bicycle Tourism Conference sponsored by CyclelifeHQ, both of which have never been hosted in Victoria before.

Have your say on rail trail public bus service

Public Transport Victoria is seeking feedback on changes to the Bendigo – Heathcote bus service. Such not only services the communities of Heathcote, Knowsley, Axedale, Longlea and Junontoun, it also provides transport options for O’Keefe Rail Trail walkers and cyclists.

PTV is proposing five return trips between Heathcote and Bendigo on weekdays and three new return trips on Saturdays, plus is also considering two route options to and from Bendigo.

Reference: https://getinvolved.transport.vic.gov.au/33930/documents/73671

The proposed Saturday buses would be especially handy for O’Keefe Rail Trail walkers and cyclists getting to and from Axedale or Heathcote or Bendigo.

The public is encouraged to provide positive feedback, and maybe asking PTV to consider putting a bike rack on this service’s bus.

Please provide your feedback no later than Sunday 29 April 2018 by:

– visiting getinvolved.transport.vic.gov.au/heathcote-junortoun to take the PTV online survey

– calling 1800 800 007 and ask to provide feedback on Heathcote – Junortoun to Bendigo bus services

– dropping into an information session (ref the downable pdf doc above).

Don’t wait until the 29 April…..get involved right now!!

 

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