Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

This is your Chance to have your Say!

The City of Greater Bendigo is seeking community input into the development of a new Greater Bendigo Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan 2022-2027. One of the identified priorities is focusing on providing a safer environment through a shared responsibility for the safety of all road users – cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists & drivers.

The council wants to know what the community thinks about providing better safety for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users across Greater Bendigo and how it can be improved. This could include your views on safer shared paths like the O’Keefe Rail Trail and other urban trails, especially where they intersect with streets and highways. 

Its your chance to participate, to highlight hazardous situations or the lack of infrastructure and to voice your concerns for the interests of cyclists, road safety and infrastructure. Don’t put it off, have your say NOW and complete the community survey via this link (www.letstalkgreaterbendigo.com.au/road-safety-strategy-action-plan) by March 28th.

Want to know more or have your say directly to council staff and contracted consultants O’Brien Traffic, then you can attend one of the Listening Posts taking place on Friday March 18 at one of the following:

1. Heathcote IGA Supermarket from 9am to 10am, 2. Elmore IGA from 11am and 12pm, 3. Hargreaves Mall from 1.00pm  to 3.00pm and 4. Lansell Square Shopping Centre from 4pm to 5pm.

Coastal Trails and Friends

With the opportunity for a cycling ‘escape’, some members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail headed off to enjoy trails at the Victorian coast. With a 4-day adventure planned, based at Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula, it was a great opportunity for members to experience different trails, take time out for a coffee or two, as well as enjoy some social time together.

When is coffee? Point Lonsdale! Photo: Judy McLaren

The first ride day had riders exploring parts of the coast line at Queenscliff, then it was sharing a coastal trail to Point Lonsdale for a coffee break. Thinking about lunch, next was the Bellarine Rail Trail to find out what made this such a popular rail trail. Intermittent coastal rain showers had jackets on and off, yet that caused little break in the chatter amongst the riders. Lunch and laughs were had at Café Zoo in Drysdale, followed by a cycling return along the rail trail back to Queenscliff.

Interpreting information at the Queenscliff Railway Station. Photo: Garry Long

Ride day two had the group catching the 9am Sorrento Queenscliff ferry service, where at Sorrento two additional riders joined the group to ride in the Point Nepean National Park. With a hot sun shining, exploring the former restricted military area with its aging defence infrastructures plus the historic Quarantine Station had all immersed in centuries of history as well as the natural environment. Too soon it was time to ride back through Portsea to catch an afternoon ferry to finish the day in Queenscliff, yet the night was still awaiting!

Boarding the Sorrento Queenscliff ferry. Photo: Garry Long

With the early sun already heating the last riding day’s morning, came preparations for experiencing what the new Bellarine Coastal Trail had to offer. With this continuous trail highlighting the coastline between Pt Richards, Portarlington, Indented Head and St Leonards, the ride began. The trail had riders checking out various points of interest, in between enjoying coffee and cake in St Leonards and lunch in Portarlington. With bikes packed, it was finally time to say farewells and reflect upon what was a fantastic ‘expedition’ with friends.

Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail Proceeds Westwards

While Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail had the Greater Shepparton City Council and the State Government funding this trail’s initial construction project, resulting in the official opening of a trail section between Murchison and Channel Inlet Rd (council boundary with Campaspe Shire) on 27 Feb 2015, there was much more potential for this short section of rail trail.

For the community of Rushworth, who had saved much of the former railway’s infrastructure within the town’s area, they really needed this rail trail to be connected with their town and support its businesses.

With the opportunity of a Federal Government’s ‘Local Roads and Community Infrastructure’ grant, the Campaspe Shire Council on 15 December 2021 unanimously approved to fund the extension of the Murchison to Rushworth Rail Trail by matching the $1.5M grant being provided by Federal Government. A media release from Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum’s office dated 15 Feb 2022, confirmed the allocated grant.

This document was posted on Facebook site Waranga Rail Trail https://www.facebook.com/groups/235144927787849/?ref=share

What a great outcome for the local community, especially those members who have been behind efforts to have this project funded for many years! The project’s current target date for completion is mid 2023. And with a Campaspe Shire’s published plan to connect Rushworth via forest tracks to the O’Keefe Rail Trail at Heathcote, such presents huge potential for an amazing connected trail network.

The close by Girgarre Stanhope Rail Trail (part of the same former railway branch line) is currently being extended so as to connect these two communities, which has those communities keen to have the Murchison to Rushworth Rail Trail extended to Stanhope (and so Girgarre). And just maybe, an extension of this Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail further westwards to Colbinabbin may follow on in the future, where that town’s new silo art is attracting high numbers of visitors that support this small community’s local pub and general store.

See Rail Trails Australia’s Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail ‘News’ post for additional information.

Colbinabbin Silo Art. Photo: Garry Long

A Social Cycle with Friends

Regular activities are planned for members of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, for both social connections as well as some exercise. In 2022, a regular ‘last Wednesday of the month’ social rides have been planned, and for this February activity it involved eight riders. The planned route was to utilise a section of the off-road Bendigo Creek Trail, a trail that allows for casual and safe cycling and walking.

The Friends ride group stops off at the O’Keefe Rail Trail link with the Bendigo Creek Trail. Photo: Judy McLaren

The ride began at Lake Werroona, with the group headed off onto the Bendigo Creek Trail and were soon checking out the nearby O’Keefe Rail Trail’s intersection with the creek trail. Cycling northwards along the creek trail, the group then stopped at the White Hills Botanical Gardens and the Gardens of the Future, which was a delightful experience to see the plant growth that has occurred since the upgrading of this passive recreation area.

Departing the gardens, the group continued along the creek trail to the Bendigo Pottery, for the all important mid-ride break for coffee and cake. Following a quick view of parts of this historic prescient, it was then back along the creek trail to conclude the enjoyable day at Lake Werroona.

Help Castlemaine to Marybourgh Rail Trail make history

The Castlemaine to Marbourgh Rail Trail (CMRT) committee is encouraging local communities and supporters of rail trails to donate and make history, in just four short weeks.

What’s at stake is a rare and exciting opportunity to attract up to $100,000 in Victorian Government tourism funding to get this 55km trail started.

To achieve that, the committee first needs to raise $12,000, with every one dollar donated by the community in February 2022 will help the group attract up to $4 in State Government funds. 

That means a single donation as small as $20 could attract up to $80 from Spring Street,” Des Boucher, CMRT Treasurer and fundraising lead, explained. “And if fewer than 25 generous people or local organisations each pledged $500 we could attract up to another $48,000 in government funding,” Des said. 

CMRT plans to hit its four-week, $12,000 fundraising target via two side-by-side campaigns:

1. Foundation Donors for donations of $500+ to find out more download an information brochure here

2. Online Donors for donations of $20+ from the wider community click here to donate

Both kind of donations will receive public recognition. More information can be found via this link.

Bikes on Buses Benefits O’Keefe Trail

The O’Keefe Rail Trail cyclists will soon be able to include the Bendigo-Heathcote PTV bus as an option to catch a bus and bring their bicycles with them, thanks to the State Government’s Bikes on Buses initiative and lobbying by Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group. 

Bike racks will be installed on buses for the Bendigo to Heathcote route, all routes in Bendigo, and the six local routes in Castlemaine.

A maximum of two bikes will be able to be safely secured on the rack at the front of the bus, while bus drivers on the routes will complete training to assist the passengers in bringing their two-wheel bikes on board. 

The soon to be installed feature will provide cyclists with additional transport options and offer more accessible connections to popular local recreational trails, including the O’Keefe Rail Trail, Goldfields Track, Bendigo Creek Trail, and the Castlemaine-Maldon Rail Trail,.

In 2016, the Department of Transport first trialed bike racks on two bus routes in Melbourne and two regional locations that included the route 70 service from Bendigo Station to Strathfieldsaye. At the conclusion of the trail, the approved staged roll out program included all the urban Bendigo routes yet not the Bendigo-Heathcote route. The Friends group approached Bendigo East member Jacinta Allan, seeking to have the Heathcote PTV bus service included in the program at the same time as Bendigo. Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll subsequently approved this request.  

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards, State transport minster Ben Carroll (at centre), and Bus Association of Victoria executive director Chris Lowe and one of the State’s new bus bike racks installed on a Castlemaine Whitmore’s bus. Photo: Eve Lamb (Castlemaine Mail)

Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said: “We’re extending the Bikes on Buses initiative to make public transport more accessible for more cyclists in the Bendigo and Castlemaine region.”

“Whether it’s riding to work or exploring one of the region’s bike trails, Bikes on Buses will better connect cyclists to their destination.”

The Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, said: “Bikes on Buses will give cyclists more options when choosing a route to reach their destination – all while delivering convenient access to the Castlemaine-Maldon Rail Trail, The Goldfields Track, O’Keefe Rail Trail and Bendigo Creek Trail.

The bike racks are expected to be installed on those buses, for the indicated routes, from early 2022. A video is available to assist how best to use this new service, via this link.

Works Benefits Trail Users

Maintenance works are in progress on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, following trail user feedback provided to the City of Greater Bendigo council by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail. The feedback was related to the oldest section of the trail between Junortoun and Axedale, now 30 years old, which was built on the alignment of the former Victorian Railway’s railway line that closed in 1958.

Trail reconstruction works in the Junortoun area. Photo: G.Long

Council’s contractors commenced this work during January, which has involved trail base reconstruction, improvements to drainage, and an application of new gravel toppings.

Contractor machinery applying new gravel topping. Photo: G.Long

These works, when completed, will hopefully reduce the need for any urgent repair responses by council and reduce possible safety hazards. The outcome will build upon this popular trail’s reputation, of providing a enjoyable experience for trail walkers and cyclists surrounded by the natural bush environment.

Completed trail upgrades within the Longlea State Forest, Axedale. Photo: G.Long

While it is expected that the current works are to be completed in February, trail users are asked to be patient and take care where machinery is working, plus respond appropriately to advice signage displayed.

Ride the Reservoirs

It certainly was a hot 26th January Australia Day for 2022, yet that didn’t deter members of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group from getting involved with the group’s January social ride activity. The planned ride was to explore the southern section of the Bendigo Creek Trail, from Old High Street Golden Square through to the Crusoe Reservoir reserve in Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo.

With 14 members in the ride group, there was plenty of chat happening during the ride along this off-road creek trail that provided both interesting creek and urban sights as well as the safety of being away from road traffic. Arriving at the Crusoe Reservoir’s picnic area, the group appreciated the shade provide by the amazing crafted natural ironbark timber shelter, for a rest break.

Time out at the Crusoe Reservoir picnic area’s shelter. Photo: Rob Jarvis

Not being phased by the hot conditions, the group rode around both Crusoe Reservoir and No.7 Reservoir within this amazing natural reserve, before heading back along the Bendigo Creek Trail to finish with about 22 kms being covered. For some, it was then lunch at the local pub, near where the ride began. With regular monthly social rides planned for the 4th Wednesday of each month during 2022, let’s hope for some milder weather for the next activity on 23rd February.

Hidden Valley rail trail preserving natural values

The North Central Review newspaper posted a story in its 18 January edition, which reported on the December 2021 community working bee that was conducted on a 1.2km section of the former railway line between Heathcote Junction and Bendigo.

A number of community groups have taken a lead to develop a much needed local public walking and cycling trail, by clearing fallen trees, removing undergrowth and invasive weeds, as well as identifying remnants of the native vegetation that once covered the surrounding area. A second community working bee took place early in January 2022, which attracted more community members excited about the prospect that this 1.2km section of former railway reserve is likely to become a part of a continuous trail between Wallan/Hidden Valley/Wandong and Kilmore.

Volunteer community members hard at work 9 Jan 2022. Photo: Lindsay Clay

More details can be read in the published newspaper article, including comments made by Upper Merri Landcare facilitator Chris Cobern, via this link to the North Central Review newspaper‘s 18 January digital edition. There is the opportunity to also subscribe to this local newspaper’s on-line editions, which will help support the development of local community facilities.

VicJam 2022 riding the O’Keefe Rail Trail

More than 7,000 children and adults took part in an 11-day Scouts Victoria jamboree, known as ‘VicJam 2022’, this $5.5 million event was based at the Elmore Events Centre from 28 December.

There are plenty of tech-free activities including rock climbing and abseiling. Photo: ABC Central Victoria: Sarah Lawrence

While this Centre became a temporary ‘town’ the size of Kyneton, with most of the scout’s activities being based at this Elmore location, one activity was held on the O’Keefe Rail Trail between 2 – 7 January.

Scouts gather for the ‘VicJam’ opening. Photo: Riverine Herald http://www.riverineherald.com.au

With the jamboree’s cycling activity being centered on the Koolamurt Scout Camp in Spring Gully (Bendigo) for 100 scout children aged 11 to 14 years and 40 adult leaders/helpers, this required a delivery of 200 specially branded new bikes that only arrived in Spring Gully late on 29 December. With little time available, each of these ‘boxed’ bikes were then required to be assembled and tested before the staged activity began on 2 January!

Check out this bike assembly process! https://youtu.be/0wCZFZJDa0I

Riding started along Bendigo’s urban off-road trails and then the O’Keefe Rail Trail, with the mid ride destination being Peppercorn Park at Longlea. Portable toilet facilities and drinking water needed to be provided at Longlea, as no permanent facilities are located there for trail users. With the scouts riding in groups of 4 to 6, part of the activity was for the learning of leadership skills. From Longlea, each group over the 5 days returned via the same trails to Spring Gully.

VicJam volunteers Jeremy & Brad at the Napier St road crossing. Photo: Lindsay Clay

Requiring to negotiate a number of road crossings, like the challenging Napier Street’s crossing for rail trail users at White Hills (Bendigo), VicJam volunteer road marshals needed to assist the scout riders and achieved an overall safe outcome for this activity.

In appreciation of using this public rail trail facility, the Victorian Scout Cycling coordinator Luke Moore indicated that in support of the work that the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail have done, and do on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, this scout organisation would like to work on a rail trail related project in the future to say “Thanks”.