The O’Keefe Rail Trail is my local rail trail. Being very close to where I live, I have cycled, walked and run on the trail many times, and feel I know every inch of it very well. But I am never bored with it, and love nothing more than getting out on the rail trail for a few hours of exercise.
Beginning in Bendigo, near Lake Weeroona, the trail goes through Axedale and onto Heathcote, a distance of about 50 kilometres. The small community of Axedale is about half way and a good rest stop along the way. There is a general store for stocking up on supplies and the Axedale Tavern where meals are available.
The site of the Axedale Station recently had a replica railway platform and railway wagon installed to create a link between the modern day rail trail and the history of the railway line. This was an initiative of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail and gives the trail an individual point of difference to some other trails.
The trail is named after local railway pioneer, Andrew O’Keefe. The next stage is the extension to Wallan, which will add another 35 kilometres approximately. This will enable cyclists to connect with passenger trains between Melbourne and Wodonga. It is expected that the trail will then continue further, to connect with the Great Victorian Rail Trail at Tallarook. This is in the future, but very exciting to look forward to.
The rail trail is best suited to mountain bikes or hybrids, as it is mostly surfaced with sandy gravel. However where the trail approaches urban areas, the surface is bitumen. The gravel surface is very compacted and hard, so many road bikes can be seen on the trail, and they usually don’t have a problem in dry weather. In my opinion, the trail surface would probably be a bit soft for the thin tyres of a road bike in wet weather.
The trail includes a few bridges and two tunnels. The first tunnel is near the start in Bendigo and there is also a tunnel under the McIvor at Axedale. This trail is extremely well sign posted, leaving users in no doubt of the distance travelled or to be travelled to the next town. If planning a stop over in Heathcote, there are many wineries that can be visited to add to the experience.
The O’Keefe Rail Trail is managed by the City of Greater Bendigo with input from The Friends Of The Bendigo/Kilmore rail trail, which is a very keen community group who donate many hours into the upkeep and improvement of the trail. This trail is always in excellent condition due to their great work.
Is there a rail trail in your local area? I would love to hear about it. I reply to all comments