O’Keefe Rail Trail
- The trail travels through box-ironbark and yellow gum woodland, as well as sections of farmland. It also crosses waterways such as the Axe Creek, the Campaspe River and Lake Eppalock plus connected to the Bendigo Creek in Bendigo.
- The trail surface is mainly compacted fine to course gravel, with urban sections consisting of asphalt paths. For cycling, this gravel surface is best suited to MTB/cross/hybrid/gravel bikes, although experienced riders can use flat bar racers/road bikes (perhaps with wider tyres fitted).
- There are two alternative return routes. The first is along forest tracks through box-ironbark woodland, a main road, and the One Tree Hill Regional Park. The second is at Axedale via Sugarloaf Rd, Wellsford State Forest, to Pratts Park Road at East Bendigo.
- PTV Bendigo Heathcote bus service has buses with an external bike rack for two (2) bikes. Bus stops close to the O’Keefe Rail Trail can be located via the PTV web page map (https://bit.ly/3FiVNRG). Carry a PTV miki card if requiring this service.
- There are many other off-road riding and walking options in the Bendigo area as well.
- On-Road ride routes are many in the Bendigo area, with the choice of riding with local groups (refer to the related Brochures, Maps, Apps, Files, Rides‘ page to download a list with times etc).
- Bendigo – At the north western end of Lake Weeroona, off Weeroona Ave. Car parking is available adjacent to the Bendigo Rowing Clubrooms. Cafe and other facilities adjoin the lake area. Bendigo railway station is 3km to the south on Railway Place.
- East Bendigo – At Pratts Park Rd (car parking is available on Rifle Range Rd).
- Junortoun – A rail trail car parking area is provided off Wilkie Rd.
- Longlea – Road side parking is available along Longlea Lane.
- Axedale – Corner of High St (McIvor Hwy) and Mitchell St, at the Axedale Public Hall. Here there is a playground, water point, and public toilets.
- Knowsley Forest – Near the intersection of Toolleen-Axedale Rd and McIvor Hwy is an entry point for the trail into the Knowsley Forest. This is location is near the power line’s transformer pole. NB – be careful entering and exiting McIvor Hwy.
- Knowsley Forest’s Smart Track Day Visitor Area. Wayfinding signs on McIvor Hwy and O’Keefe Rail Trail. This area has a shelter, tables/seats, BBQs, toilets, water dam, and parking.
- Knowsley township – car parking is available at Moorabbee Rd Knowsley, at the Tennis Courts, near the trail.
- Derrinal – While no formal off-road parking available in the immediate area, an option is road side parking on Old Bendigo Rd Derrinal.
- Heathcote – The trail’s off-street car park is accessed from Herriot St Heathcote. Also the Heathcote Visitor Information Centre (corner of High St. and Barrack St.) has both street car parking and trail/accommodation information.
North Bendigo to Axedale (23km)
- Formal start of the trail is the trail intersection with the Bendigo Creek Trail, near Weeroona Ave, North Bendigo. Upon heading east on the trail, cross Napier St (Midland Highway) with care, then proceed through the brick-lined culvert under the Bendigo–Echuca railway line.
- The Bendigo Bushland Trail crosses the rail trail at Markovitch Lane, and also Pratts Park Rd.
- Junortoun: Take care crossing the McIvor Hwy (adjacent the Baptist Church).
- A bike repair station is located at the Wilkie Rd carpark
- A potable water station with a table and seats are located at Bennetts Rd
- After 12kms the trail crosses the Axe Creek, and the ‘Axe Creek Rest Stop’ picnic table-seats are located adjacent.
- Passing the former Axedale Railway Station, with its static heritage railway wagon on display, it is a short distance before reaching the former Axedale Racecourse station site.
- The trail now diverts off the original railway alignment, into the Axedale township, via an asphalt path.
- Continue on the trail’s urban asphalt path, within street reserves, to the River Reserve area on the Campaspe River frontage. Along the river reserve there are picnic tables, seats, and the ‘Platypus Compass’.
Bendigo is a major regional city.
Axedale has drinking water, a bike repair station, toilet facilities, food and refreshments (Axedale General Store and the Axedale Tavern).
Axedale to Derrinal (17km)
- Using the trail’s underpass of the McIvor Hwy, then cross the Campaspe River via the trail bridge.
- The trail meets Ingham Rd, which is a shared yet very low traffic sealed road. Follow Ingham Rd up the hill until the dedicated trail is again reached.
- Care is required at the trail’s crossing of the McIvor Hwy (hwy traffic travelling at 100kph speed) , near Toolleen-Axedale Rd intersection. The trail then enters the Knowsley Forest.
- In the forest, a small diversion is possible to the Day Visitor Area (approximately 800 m north east along Smart Track), where toilets, shelter, a gas BBQ, table-seats are provided next to a water dam within the forest.
- After crossing Smart Track, the rail trail returns to the original railway formation near the ‘Old Railway Dam’.
- In Knowsley, the trail passes by the original railway Station Masters house and the railway track ganger’s house.
- After the small hamlet of Knowsley, the trail passes the ‘Moorabbee Hill Rest Stop’. At this location, tables and seats provide an opportunity to relax and enjoy the vista of the Cobaw Range (Great Dividing Range).
- Nearby points of interests as the trail approaches Lake Eppalock are the ‘Stranger Rock’ (Lat S36 51’59.5″ Longitude E144 07’16.8″) and the spectacular glacial pavements of ‘Kellams Rock’ and ‘Dunns Rock’ that are close by. The glacial striae (grooves) are well-preserved in Kellams Rock, potentially the largest of its kind in Australia. There are many glacial deposit types that can be seen along the shores of Lake Eppalock.
- The trail continues into the Lake Eppalock area. Creation of the lake (reservoir) closed the original railway, yet a purpose built high level causeway and 90m Mt Ida Creek bridge now allows the trail to stay on that original alignment.
- The ‘Lake View Rest Stop’ has been established on the causeway, with its tables and seats, providing a picnic area at the lake area.
- Next is the ‘Derrinal Rest Stop’, allowing a distant view of the former station platform (now located on private property) across the McIvor Hwy.
NOTE: Users of the trail should respect all privately owned land. Caution is required crossing the trail’s cattle grids between the Knowsley Forest and Derrinal Station Lane.
O’Keefe Rail Trail bridge over Campaspe River Axedale. Photo. Kevin Crockett
Derrinal to Heathcote (9km)
- From Derrinal, the trail skirts McIvor Hwy, and enters the One Eye Forest near Hills Rd.
- NOTE: From the Mia Mia-Derrinal Rd to Burnt Track in the One Eye Forest, this is shared use with motor vehicles. Accordingly, extreme care should be taken in this section, as there are several narrow sections along this alignment section. Report any issues or incidents to either Victoria Police, City of Greater Bendigo (see links below), and/or via the trail feedback survey facility.
- The trail then enters into the Heathcote township urban area.
- The trail passes the former railway station site, which there are no visible signs of such yet is highlighted by a ‘station name board’ and an interpretive sign
- The formal trail head is located at Herriot St, with a shelter made from local timbers, heritage railway gates, town information, and potable water station (in the adjoining Dog Park)
- Between Herriot St and Pink Cliffs Rd (trail’s formal end), there is a linking trail providing a connection into the commercial centre and Tourist Information Centre.
Heathcote is a regional town with numerous facilities (and the longest main street).
NOTE: For the full length of the trail, all trail users are reminded of the trail etiquette –
- Remain within the rail trail reserve
- Do not to enter adjacent private properties without first obtaining the landowner’s permission
- Keep to the left of oncoming traffic
- Do not disturb livestock or machinery
- Dogs must be on a lead at all times
- A number of trail sections in the Knowsley area are located on private property, therefore respect farming operations, and leave gates in the position that you find them
- Trail users are asked to adhere to the guidelines listed on the various trail warning/advisory signs
- Take your rubbish with you
- No camping, no lighting of camp fires at any time
- No motorbikes or unauthorised vehicles on the ‘non-shared’ trail sections.
** To download the O’Keefe Rail Trail brochure or map, go to the ‘Brochures, Maps, Apps, Files, Rides‘ tab on this web site or from the Bendigo Tourism web page
The City of Greater Bendigo Council and the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail are keen to gain valuable feedback from users of the O’Keefe Rail Trail. Your feedback will assist with trail improvements and ongoing trail development.
Please take the short survey, after experiencing this trail: www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/okeefetrailsurvey