Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

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

 

Ride2School on Rail Trail

The National Ride to School day event for the Axedale Primary School each year involves one of their school’s favourite adopted ‘school facility’, the O’Keefe Rail Trail. This National activity provides an opportunity for students, parents and teachers to try riding, walking, skating or scooting to school as well as celebrating the regular walkers and riders. And Axedale school community really does get behind this National initiative.

From this small rural school, students from all age groups were involved as well as teachers and parents plus the ride being assisted by Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members. At the early morning start time of 7:30am, from the designated Longlea Lane start point, this saw an excited bunch of older students ready to share the whole experience on the rail trail. As the ride group rode closer towards the school, the younger age students and parents joined the group at various points along the trail.

Axedale Primary School students Ride to School. Photo: L.Clay

Axedale Primary School students Ride to School. Photo: L.Clay

The ‘official’ 2018 photo was taken at the recently constructed replica Axedale Railway Station platform on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, where the student’s enthusiasm for the morning’s ride overflowed!

Rail Trail Link To Wallan Feasible

The Bendigo Weekly has published an article in its 23 February edition “Rail Trail Link To Wallan Feasible” reporting on the Wallan to Heathcote Feasibility Study that is to be considered by the Mitchell Shire Council at its 19th March meeting.

This article included comments by a Pyalong resident and business co-owner, relating to concerns about the study consultant’s processes as well as perceived impacts that a rail trail may have in the Pyalong area.

Link to the paper’s on-line BendigoWeekly.com.au report

It is understood that the Mitchell Shire Council will make a decision at its March meeting, whether to accept or otherwise the recommendations in the study’s final report. Should a decision be made to accept the report, it has been indicated that such would not automatically commit the Council and its ratepayers to embark on implementing the report’s recommendations in the future, or to expend ratepayers rate revenue for the report’s proposed staged development of the trail.

Should the study be accepted by Council, this could become the basis for attracting significant external grants to the Shire to create employment of local people and contractors, be the basis of local discussions on how such a project could be implemented with the various parties involved including private landholders of the former railway alignment’s land.

O’Keefe Rail Trail fence and gate, for moving farm stock between paddocks.

When most rail trails are in the planned stage, there is need to consider many factors including detours or bypasses from the original railway’s alignment, whether such is due to road realignments, private land or land use changes i.e buildings, farming practices etc. The outcomes can be about a ‘win win’ for all involved, perhaps the farmer gains new fences/gates/screening trees, or an all weather joint use ‘internal road’ to access paddocks for stock movements, or the sale of a small parcel of unproductive land to add to the farmer’s superannuation fund, the leasing of land, or an upgraded sealed joint use road/trail. All of these examples listed here are what were negotiated by people involved with the recent extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail between Axedale and Heathcote.

Upgraded sealed shared road - O'Keefe Rail Trail

A low traffic upgraded sealed joint use road/trail – The O’Keefe Rail Trail

The local Tavern/pub/General Store plus other small businesses continue to have ‘wins’ too. Local communities, rural school students, small walking groups have access their own recreational rail trail facility to help improve their own health and wellbeing, as well as attracting other walking and cycling trail users who bring economic benefits to the small towns involved. ‘Rail trail’ business could make the difference between a local shop or pub closing or not, with such lost affecting local farmers and residents. Rail trails are for the community including farming families, rail trails help support rural business and employment.