Bicycle Network: Regional Routes
O'Keefe Rail Trail - Updates
The latest developments and improvements on the trail
Clean up Australia Day trail clean
4 March 2013 Yesterday the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail hosted a successful Clean Up Australia Day for 2013, which is for the third consecutive year. This year the CUAD site incorporated a small section of the O'Keefe Rail Trail, a section of the Bendigo Creek and the Bendigo Creek Trail. With 40 volunteers registering, a great deal of rubbish was collected, which came mainly from the Bendigo Creek waterway. The Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail wish to thank all that participated in the event.
Save the Pyalong historic timber bridges
|Mollison Creek timber railway bridge, Pyalong Vic|
Two magnificent ex railway timber bridges are still standing at Pyalong, yet for how long and can they be used for a rail trail? The Mollison Creek bridge, and the Hanford Creek (or Percival Creek) bridge were both originally built in 1889. That section of this railway line closed in late 1968, and these are the only bridges in this area that remain.
Due to a number of community groups' renewed focus on creating a rail trail in this area, lead by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group, the State Government provided funding for the DSE to engage the Sterling Group for an engineering assessment on both these 19th century bridges. This assessment has been completed and a report provided to DSE.
|Handford Creek (Percival Creek) timber railway bridge, Pyalong, Vic.|
While the Friends group has a vision for a Wandong to Heathcote rail trail to be created as close as possible to this former 'Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Line' railway alignment, which these bridges were once part of, the outcome of this engineering assessment provided bad news.
The report concluded that no access can be made to either of these bridges for any reason, due to their poor condition.
The historical significance of these bridges are very important to the community and would be a great asset to the attraction of an eventual extension of the rail trail. This is an area to watch.
Bendigo-Kilmore rail trail pushes forward
|Trail construction adjacent to Flea St, Heathcote|
24 January 2013. Work on the Heathcote section of the O'Keefe Rail Trail is well underway as the trail continues to be expanded and improved.
There are positive reports from both the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail (FBKRT) group and the City of Greater Bendigo.
Recently the City of Greater Bendigo removed the last of the spring loaded gates from the trail. Removal of the gates on the existing sections of the trail has been a project of interest for a long time, and now trail users are able to flow freely in all sections.
Further to this, trail construction in Heathcote township is progressing well.
In other news, the Trail's new replica Rifle Butts Platform has been completed, as an historical link as well as an interest point for trail users.
Work is currently in progress constructing a replica part of the original Axedale Racecourse Platform, with final elements of the platform wall or facing being installed this week.
The FBKRT have also been working hard on the installation of replica station/platform site signs, as menbers of the Friends carried out preparatory site work.
Stage #1 of the project has just been completed, including six signs installed at 'Rifle Butts', 'Rangelea', 'Strathfieldsaye', 'Longlea', 'Axedale', and 'Heathcote' sites. Tough going was encountered, with this work extended due to the very hard or rocky soil conditions
One of the signs bears the longest place name in Victoria, Strathfieldsaye, hence the newly made sign is over 5 metres long!
While the Heathcote sign having been installed on this town's section of new trail, work is still continuing by Greater Bendigo Council planners and contractors to connect this town with Axedale by trail. Planned completion of the current trail project is December 2014.
Election opportunity for candidates to show support
August 2012 Bicycle Network has identified this project as a local council priority for the 2012 Local Government election.
The trail, particularly the western most start of the path and subsequent kilometres of path heading out of Bendigo has rendered the path almost unridable currently. For future investment to be justifed further east, the most popular section of the trail should be upgraded.
Also needed is an upgrade of the O'Keefe Rail Trail's crossing of Napier Street/Midland Highway at White Hills. This is to create a safer crossing of the Napier Street busy transport route for the shared path users.
Candidates should be ready to support the development and full or partial funding of this project in conjunction with State Government and can tell riders in their Council area their position by posting their candidates' statement at VoteBike.
Timber bridges under microscope
March 2011. An engineering assessment of the two magnificent original timber railway bridges at Pyalong is underway to ascertain if they have a role in the future development of the O'Keefe Trail.
The two bridges at Mollison’s Creek and Hanford’s Creek were constructed in 1889 and 1890 by McDermott and Sons and are both listed on the Heritage Victoria database.
The trail has quite some way to go before it gets to this point, but the evaluation must be done now lest neglect damages the bridges in the meantime.
The bridges, both on Crown Land, could be one of the major attractions of the trail when it is completed all the way to Kilmore.
The assessment is being done with a $65,000 State Government grant and will be presented to the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Hargreaves Creek bridged [updated]
7 March 2011. O'Keefe Rail Trail has rolled across Hargreaves Creek (at Axedale), extending the original trail with the new steel bridge on the original alignment in position and the timber work soon to follow.
This is the fourth such new bridge along the trail. The next two larger new bridges are still to be constructed as the required concrete centre supports have been delayed due to recent wet weather and flood conditions.
At the instigation of the Friends of the Bendigo - Kilmore Rail Trail the City of Greater Bendigo has just allocated $100K for remainder of this financial year to the maintenance of the already built O'Keefe trail section. Work will focus on improving drainage and upgrading parts of the trail's surface, as well as install new signage at road crossings.
Work has already started and rider are looking forward to improvements along the trail over the coming months.
Axedale bridges delayed
9 February 2011. Smart engineers like to build bridges in the summer, when creek beds are dry and the going is good. This notoriously stormy summer has caused havoc with construction schedules, and the O'Keefe Rail Trail out of Bendigo is no exception.
Work has already begun on the renovation and extension of the Rail Trail, with six small bridges between Bendigo and Axedale under construction.
These bridges will improve crossings of some of the small creeks along the trail.
The Bendigo region has had more than its share of wet weather, so it has been a struggle to meet timelines.
It's a relatively small start, but it's progress on the ground, as part of a multi-year development to extend the trail.
Heathcote extension to bear fruit
18 June 2010. Regional & Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan has come through again with significant funding to complete the second half of the O'Keefe Rail Trail to Heathcote.
$1.9 million from the State Government's Regional Development Infrastructure Fund will complement $1.3 million from the City of Greater Bendigo to make up the $3.2 million fund that was reported in the preceding post from January. This committment will allow the Trail to be completed over the final 24 km from Axedale to Heathcote.
Ms Allan said the 24 kilometre extension would enhance and complement the existing tourism infrastructure and create jobs.
“It will create a significant cycling and walking experience to attract lucrative tourism to the region that will be of great benefit to food wine and hospitality businesses in the region,” she said.
“This boost will facilitate growth in jobs and skills training opportunities, create facilities benefitting locals and visitors, and increase community cohesiveness and pride.”
With every passing announcement of this nature, the State Government is demonstrating that Victoria's Rail Trails need to be funded and supported like the significant tourism assets they are. Click here to find out more about the Government's recent announcement of a State-wide tourism trails package.
Click here to say thanks to Minister Allan, and the City of Greater Bendigo.
In this case, connecting the current trail all the way to Heathcote and the ample tourism assets on display there will and rejuvenating the worn down O'Keefe Rail Trail will pay dividends for the region.
Bicycle Network will stay in close contact with the City of Greater Bendigo as the project is rolled out. The current section of the Trail between Bendigo and Axedale is in dire need of a refurbishment, and all stakeholders should do well to ensure that it is upgraded to take full advantage of this excellent new investment in part two of the O'Keefe Trail.
Bendigo boosts O'Keefe Trail
20 January 2010. The City of Greater Bendigo has backed an exciting renovation and extension of the O'Keefe Trail.
In a unanimous decision that noted the economic, recreation, and health benefits that Rail Trails bring to regional communities, the Council resolved to extend the Trail to Heathcote, giving it an eventual distance of 40km and making it a much more sustainable tourism and recreational asset for the long-term.
The extension to Heathcote and the expected renovation of the current section of trail that runs 18km from Bendigo to Axedale ought to put this Trail into the top tier of riding destinations in Victoria.
Council will be seeking support from Regional Development Victoria to undertake a $3.2 million redevelopment and extension of the trail. Bicycle Network has already backed the value of a renovation and extension of the O'Keefe Trail in meetings with Regional Development Victoria.
Council is currently developing a funding submission. The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail are collating letters and expressions of support on behalf of Council. Anyone and everyone interested in offering their written support for the O'Keefe project can write in here.
Expressions of support should be in by Australia Day.
Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail now online
29 June 2009. A new community group, called the Friends of the Bendigo - Kilmore Rail Trail, is stirring to life.
Find out more about them through the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail website.
The Friends group has ambitious plans for trail building and bike riding in the Greater Bendigo area, with the eventual goal of extending the O'Keefe Trail past its currently planned terminus at Heathcote towards Kilmore.
Bicycle Network is initially focusing on a high quality trail between Bendigo and Heathcote. Once this goal is accomplished, the way will be clear to proceed to the next stage.
Unfortunately, there has been little progress on the O'Keefe Trail. It still runs only from Bendigo to Axedale, though Council is currently exploring opportunities to get it over the Campaspe River, which once accomplished will overcome the major physical hurdle on the way to Heathcote.
The surface of the existing route to Axedale will also benefit from further upgrading.
This Trail is a great challenge for the new group. Locals and other Trail supporters interested in participating should contact the group through the website listed above, or by e-mail. The Group is hosting a community meeting with the City of Greater Bendigo on 13 July. All those interested in attending should contact the Group.
O'Keefe Rail Trail to Heathcote is climbing out of the too hard basket
Aug 07 The City of
Previous investigations into extending the trail have assumed that sections of private land across the old railway easement make it too difficult to build the trail to Heathcote. However Council is now more confident that alternative routes are possible if access to the railway easement cannot be negotiated. Initial discussions with landholders have been positive.
Investigations are continuing and funding applications to state and federal governments are being finalised. Current cost estimates are very high due to the need for some large bridges. With some clever design and community support the costs can come down making it probable that the O'Keefe Rail Trail will make it to Heathcote.
This is great news and the City of
June 06. Bicycle Network believes the trail needs to be extended to Heathcote for it to become a tourism trail that is attractive to visitors. Heathcote and its wineries will make an excellent overnight destination for trail users.
Currently the trail finishes in Axedale.
Some of the railway land between Axedale and Heathcote has been sold off which will make it more difficult to negotiate access for a multi use trail.
Bendigo City Council has identified an extension for the trail from Axedale to Heathcote in its Open Space Strategy.