The O’ Keefe Rail Trail BY Matthew Davis
The importance of keeping fit and healthy is drummed into our heads on an almost daily basis. One of the best ways to do this is to get outdoors and go for a bike ride. Bendigo offers a variety of trails to facilitate this, such as the Bendigo Creek trail. However the most interesting of these has to be the O’ Keefe Rail Trail. This trail follows the formation of the old railway line that went from Bendigo to Heathcote and beyond to join up with the main line to Albury and Sydney. Opened in the 1880s, the section between Ranglea (near Bendigo) and Heathcote was closed in 1958 after the completion of Lake Eppalock cut the line. The remaining section from Heathcote to the junction with the Albury line closed 10 years later. The final portion from Bendigo to Ranglea finally closed in the late 1980s. In 1993 the Bendigo to Axedale section was re-opened as a rail trail, one of the first in Victoria. In 2009 care of this trail became managed by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, who have been successful in obtaining grants to extend the trail to Heathcote, which is presently under construction. In the future it is planned to extend the trail all the way back to its connection with the Albury line as funds become available.