Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail

Linking central Victoria via the old railway line

Bicycle Network comes to Bendigo

Bicycle Network representatives will be in Bendigo on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March. They are keen to chat with riders like YOU, about what’s important when it comes to riding in the Bendigo area and beyond.

BN LogoWhat would make it easier for you to ride? What support would your family or social ride group seek to improve urban bike infrastructure, to link up existing off-road trails, or extend the O’Keefe Rail Trail to Tooborac, Kilmore and Wallan? Join Bike Bendigo and Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members, to voice regional Victorian rider’s concerns, needs and wants.

Bicycle Network Drinks and Chat – 13 March
Location: Bridge Hotel, Bridge Rd, Bendigo
Time: 5:00pm – 6.30pm
Cost: Free. Nibbles provided, drinks at bar prices.
RSVP: Via Bike Bendigo’s Facebook

Drop in for a quick chat and snack from 5pm, and feel free to stay on for a meal (Pay Your Own after 6.30pm).

Give Now to Support

Imagine an off-road trail running all the way from Melbourne to Bendigo, through towns like Wallan, Heathcote Junction, Kilmore, Pyalong, Tooborac, Heathcote, Axedale and including the now O’Keefe Rail Trail. How can you help to have this development occur?

One way is to make a ‘Give Now’ donation right now, to assist community efforts in lobbying Local, State and Federal governments, as your donation will help to put this trail ‘on their front page for funding’. Your donation will assist highlighting what the development of this linking trail will do, to build healthier communities and stronger local economies.

Regional Victoria rail trail cycle tourism

Regional Victoria seeks more rail trail cycle and walking tourism

Go to Give NowBe a Trail Blazer appeal” (http://bit.ly/38xoI2u) to donate once or on a regular basis, as you or your family/friends could personally benefit from this trail’s development.

Tell Us What Excited You!

Have you been out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail this Aussie Day long weekend, or recently, and would like to tell the world how good it was? Well if not the world, at least tell those who care and want to make this trail even better than many other rail trails in Victoria!

One Eye Forest, Derrinal-Heathcote section, O'Keefe Rail Trail

One Eye Forest, Derrinal-Heathcote section, O’Keefe Rail Trail

Perhaps there were little things that need a tweak, an improvement, so that your family and friends will enjoy this trail and its towns even more when they get the chance?

So let us know, fill in what’s important to you about this trail using the on-line user feedback page (http://bit.ly/37rthv6). We’d just love to know what excited you the most or otherwise!

Railway Wagon Restoration Progresses

The restoration of the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s heritage railway wagon has progressed, under the watchful eye of Bendigo Railway Workshops’ (BRW) Alan Nicolson and Mark Birchmore. Sandblasting of the known areas of metal rust corrosion has revealed that overall the wagon is structurally sound, although with some plate sections being affected by severe rust.

The extent of metal corrosion was not unexpected, due partly to the likes of bulk material such as superphosphate or open to rainwater laying inside these wagons for extended periods while stationary in railway sidings. Then for this wagon, what followed was decades of being stored in Gippsland, unused, until the wagon was allocated by PTV and retrieved from the Kurumburra Station yards.

To date the work has involved sandblasting the severely rusted sections, replacement steel plates welding into the internal floor, as well as the tarp stanchions being straightened under heat.

Inspecting work progress being undertaken by BRW. 18 Dec 2019. Photo: Rob Jarvis

The aim of the project is to restore the wagon to as near as possible to its original design specifications, with components such as the existing wheels being changed out for spoke cast wheels, repainting from the later Hansa Yellow to the original VR Wagon Red colour, and then finally applying the white identifiable VR markings.

Its Nearly Christmas, enjoying Dinner with a Moonlight Ride

A Christmas Moonlight Ride in Bendigo was again enjoyed by the ‘young’ girls and boys of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail last Saturday. Riding from Spring Gully to White Hills, fun was had along the off-road Spring Gully Trail, Back Crk Trail, and Bendigo Crk Trail, while the riders’ excitement was growing. Nearing their destination, they went searching in the Bendigo Botanical Gardens for Santa’s reindeers who might have been there grazing, before the rider group dined with the non-riders at the Botanical Hotel.

Bendigo Botanical Gardens, Moonlight Ride 2019. Photo: Kevin Thiele

On the return ride, a visit to the Garden of the Future’s events stage didn’t find Santa awaiting with gifts, as these ‘young’ riders had forgotten to send off their Santa wish list letters!! With the lure of supper on their minds, wearing hi-vis colours and with bright bike lights, the riders headed towards the South (Pole?) hoping to see the promised full moon. A diversion around Lake Weeroona, with the lights dancing upon the water, their bike headlights showing the way along Bendigo’s popular off-road urban trails as they headed for Spring Gully.

Finally, there was the enjoyment of a fruit cake supper at the Kevin and Linda’s residence, while it was joked that Santa must have opted for other transport that night and was probably having just as much fun on his bike!

Missing??

Have you been out enjoying the O’Keefe Rail Trail recently and wondering where it has gone? What is missing? The historic railway wagon, previously relocated from the Korumburra station and placed at the former Axedale Railway Station site on the O’Keefe Rail Trail in 2018, has been removed.

The company BRW (Bendigo Railway Workshops), which is located at the former Victorian Railways North Bendigo Railway Workshops, is enthusiastic to be working with the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group to restore this ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon. The wagon was transported by A2B Move It P/L to BRW this week. The planned work is intended to, as near as possible, return the wagon to its original condition when wagons were manufactured in the former VR railway workshops during the late 1950s.

The ‘GY’ 4-wheel wagon being delivered to BRW Bendigo. Photo: Rob Jarvis

This wagon’s original ‘spoke’ wheels had previously been replaced by the later ‘full disc’ type. With a set of the ‘spoke’ wheels located, and kindly made available by the Central Victorian Goldfields Railway, these wheels were then transported to BRW and will be installed on this wagon.

A set of ‘spoke’ type railway wheels are delivered to BRW. Photo: Ken Hanson

Stay tuned for news updates on the restoration of this wagon, which will be returned to Axedale as the only item of historic railway rolling stock on public display in the Greater Bendigo area.

O’Keefe Rail Trail – Section Closure

The Lake Eppalock section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail will be closed to the public from Monday 25th November to Friday 8th December, 6am to 6pm daily for track upgrade works.

O’Keefe Rail Trail section to be closed

This work will address the damage caused to the trail in 2016 when the lake’s water level exceeded the 100% full level. At that time, closure of the trail was required until the water level receded and council was able to carry out minor works to then allow safe access for trail users.

As no major repair/upgrade works followed, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail made a submission to the Council’s 2019-20 budget, to have restoration and upgrading works carried out on the trail’s causeway across Lake Eppalock. As a result of this submission, budget cover was provided enabling this planned work to now take place.

The City of Greater Bendigo council apologizes for any inconvenience that this closure may cause.

Join The Crew!

Heathcote was the place to ‘Join the Crew’ last weekend, an event that brought both volunteers and the public together. It was a chance to connect with some of the community groups linked to Heathcote, as well as find out what’s happening locally.

Some of the Friends members with Mayor Margaret O’Rourke

The Friends group was directly involved, having an information stand to both explain the benefits of extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail, as well as encouraging new membership.

Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail info stand

This event was the initative of local resident and journalist Vanessa Wiltshire, with profits being donated to the Heathcote Dementia Alliance.

Interested in Railway History?

Rail trails evoke the interest of many people, some for their health and wellbeing/fitness, some exploring and experiencing the local natural environment or food/wine, while others seek out elements relating to the former railway. To assist with exploring such railway history, this Friends’ web pages have a separate page telling some of the history relating to the former Victorian Railway’s cross country ‘Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst‘ railway that one section closed in 1958 and the last in 1968.

Railway construction, believed to be at Axedale Racecourse Platform. Photo: ‘Axedale Railway Line 01_BHS1265’

That page ‘Railway history‘ has recently been updated, with some additional new photos and text. Of course some may say history is just a combination of stories and lies that people have agreed upon! While this compiled page may possibly have some elements of this, corrections with related supporting information are always welcomed.

The recently installed eleven new interpretive information signs, placed at various points of interest along the O’Keefe Rail Trail are impressive, which are definitely a must see!

Do you know of any related ‘stories’, perhaps the whereabouts of an historical photo of the Axedale Railway Station, or the name of the chap with the bowler hat in the photo above? If so, we would love to know about such or receive a copy of any related railway photos.

Age No Barrier for Bicycle Riders

A chance to exercise away from busy roads, meet new friends, learn about interesting local attractions were some of the things experienced by bicycle riders during Seniors Week in Bendigo.

One of the week’s program of activities was a shared bicycle ride along a section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail. “It was open to all, whether you felt like you were a senior or not, the ride proved popular” said Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail’s activities coordinator Greg Ralton, “Participants were able to join the ride at different points along the trail, with commentary provided on railway history, new tree plantings, signs and developments on this popular trail.’

Of course like most bicycle rides, this ride also finished with another popular activity, having coffees and social chats at Lake Weeroona!