Where will it go?
These are the towns on the route of the former railway.
The original railway left the ‘North Eastern’ (Melbourne to Wodonga) railway line at Heathcote Junction, and travelled through Kilmore to Heathcote and on to Bendigo (or Sandhurst as it was then known).
The O’Keefe Rail Trail is now continious between Bendigo and Heathcote, a total distance of approximately 49kms.
Should the O’Keefe trail be linked to a proposal for a Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail, together both would span a total of 120 kms.
The Friends group and the Mitchell Bicycle Users Group would like the route of the proposed trail to follow as closely as possible the original railway alignment. Such may not always be possible, to follow the original route exactly, as parts of the original alignment are now privately owned or the land use has changed. So it is expected that such a trail would make some diversions, which is not an uncommon feature of rail trails.
Where’s all that in relation to Melbourne?
Just to put this into perspective, the map below shows central Victoria in relation to Melbourne. With proposing to have a rail trail between Heathcote and Wallan, such a trail would be less than 30kms distance from the existing Craigeburn Bypass Trail’s connection to the Melbourne trail network.
Networking to other trails
Networking the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail with other trails, such as the Great Victorian Rail Trail at Tallarook (just south of Seymour on this map), the Murchison to Rushworth (Waranga) Rail Trail, the Goldfields Track (Victoria), the Bendigo Bushland Trail, and of course the O’Keefe Rail Trail, is an important strategic consideration. The connection to the Great Victorian Rail Trail could either be via V/Line passenger trains, along a quite rural on-road reserve trail, or dedicated off-road trail from Kilmore to Tallarook.
Trail Feasibility Study
A funded feasibility study, looking at the proposals for a trail extension and networking to other trails, formally began on 22 February 2016. Community and individual feedback is sort on this Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail, via Engaging Mitchell web page, until 20 March 2017. The study’s final report is expected in later in 2017.