Travels through box-ironbark and yellow gum woodland, along with farmland.
Trail surface is a mix of asphalt sections (townships) and rolled fine to course gravel in the other areas. For cycling, the trail surface overall is currently most suitable for MTB and hybrid bikes - although flat bar racers with sufficiently wide tyres would be fine.
In 2015, the extension from Axedale to Heathcote was opened, resulting in a good quality path of 50 km from Bendigo to Heathcote.
There are two alternative return routes. One is along forest tracks through box-ironbark woodland, a main road and the One Tree Hill Regional Park. The second is via Sugarloar Rd, Wellsford State Forest, Pratts Park Rd.
There are also many other riding and walking options in the Bendigo area.
Refer to the Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail at the links below for more detai on the options. Also see the videos tab.
Unique opportunity to experience hybrid or E-bike riding to explore the rail trails and in conjunction with our air conditioned bus and 15-bike trailer.
Sites of former stations are marked on the map but generally little remains of them However the Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail have erected replica signs and are recreating sections of the platforms to add to the experience of the rail trail.
There are plenty of wildflowers including orchids in bloom in spring.
Bendigo - At the north western end of Lake Weeroona, off Weeroona Ave, car parking is available adjacent to Bendigo Rowing Clubrooms. Cafe and other facilities are around the lake area. Bendigo 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 park is provided off Wikie Rd.
Longlea - Park along Longlea Ln.
Axedale - Corner of High St (McIvor Hwy) and Mitchell St at the Axedale Public Hall, car parking, playgrounds 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 (near the power line transformer pole. NB - be careful entering and exiting McIvor Hwy.
Knowsley - car parking near to where the trail crosses Moorabbee Rd at the adjacent Knowsley Tennis Courts.
Derrinal - opposite the former Derrinal Railway station, off Old Bendigo Rd, is a trail rest stop and replica station name board - parking on the side of Old Bendigo Rd is an option.
Heathcote - Carpark off Herriot St, at the new iconic rail trail shelter. Heathcote Visitor Information Centre, corner of High St and Barrack St, has car parking and trail information.
North Bendigo to Axedale (23km)
From Lake Weeroona, follow the Bendigo Creek Trail north to a 'T' intersection and turn right to begin the O'Keefe Rail Trail. Cross the Midland Highway with care and go through the brick-lined culvert under the Bendigo–Echuca railway line.
The Bendigo Bushland Trail crosses the rail trail at Markovitch Lane.
At the 4km point a trail branches to the north (to the former Department of Defence ammunition storage facility, 'Rangelea' siding), so follow signs for the main trail.
Take care crossing the McIvor Hwy next to the Baptist Church at Junortoun.
After 12km is Axe Creek, with its new at-grade bridge and a possible stop for a picnic.
The trail passes the former Axedale station before reaching the Axedale Racecourse station.
The trail now diverts off the original railway alignment, to follow a newly constructed trail into the Axedale township, via an asphalt section.
Continue on the trail's urban asphalt path, within street reserves, down to the River Reserve area on the Campaspe River frontage, where there are picnic tables and art installations.
Bendigo is a major regional city.
Axedale has drinking water, toilet facilities, a general store and the Axedale Tavern.
Axedale to Derrinal (17km)
The path follows an underpass under McIvor Hwy and then (north of the highway) crosses a rail trail bridge over the Campaspe River.
The path meets Ingham Rd, which is a very quiet road. Follow Ingam Rd up the hill until the dedicated trail is reached.
Shortly after take care crossing the 100kph McIvor Hwy near Toollen Axedale Rd. The trail now enters the Knowsley Forest.
There is a formal picnic area approximately 300 m north along Smart Track - it is marked on the map and has a dam and table-seats to enable people to rest within the forest.
After reaching Smart Track the rail trail returns to the original formation.
Further east, after Knowsley, the trail passes the ‘Moorabbee Hill Rest Stop’, where table-seats and bike racks provide an opportunity to relax and enjoy the vista to the south of the Great Dividing Range.
The trail continues down hill to the Lake Eppalock area. The lake came after the railway and flooded some of the track but a purpose built causeway and the 90m Mt Ida Creek bridge allows the trail to stay on the original alignment,.
Another picnic area has been established on the causeway giving views of the lake. Then at Derrinal, another rest stop is provided that allows a view of the former station platform (located on private property) across the McIvor Hwy.
NOTE: Users of the trail should respect all privately owned land. Take care crossing cattle grids between Knowsley Forest and Derrinal.
Derrinal to Heathcote (9km)
The trail from Derrinal skirts McIvor Hwy and enters One Eye Forest near Hills Rd.
NOTE: While ‘rail trail users only’ status of the trail continues from Hills Rd to the Mia Mia-Derrinal Rd section, extreme care should be taken in the Mia Mia-Derrinal Rd to Burnt Track shared (with motor vehicles) section, especially at several narrow sections along this alignment section.
The last new trail bridge in the One Eye Forest is located above a complete section of the original much longer 1888 timber railway bridge.
The trail then enters into the Heathcote township.
Heathcote is a large regional town with numerous facilities.
Knowsley Forest – Near the intersection of the Toolleen-Axedale Rd and McIvor Hwy, is an entry point for the trail into the Knowsley Forest. A reference point adjacent the highway is the power line transformer pole. Care required exit and entering this 100kph highway speed zone.
Knowsley – At the trail intersection with the Moorabbee Rd in Knowsley. Car parking is available at the adjacent Knowsley Tennis Courts.
Derrinal – Opposite the former Derrinal Railway Station, off Old Bendigo Rd, there is a trail rest stop and replica station name board. No formal car park is provided, so parking to the side of the Old Bendigo Rd is an option.
Heathcote – The Heathcote Visitor Information Centre, corner of High St and Barrack St, provides trail information and car parking facilities. The other trail access points are in Herriott St – Back Kyneton Rd where car parking is provided near the trail, or at the formal end/start point of the trail at Pink Cliffs Rd.
This line was built in 1888 by Andrew O'Keefe to link Bendigo and Heathcote. From here the line continued to Heathcote Junction, near Wallan, on the North Eastern main line. The Heathcote - Bendigo section of that line closed in 1958 (as the construction of Lake Eppalock reservior was taking place) This lightly-trafficked branch line was then completely closed by 1968.
The first section of a rail trail between Bendigo and Axedale was opened in 1993 (by former Shire of Strathfieldsaye Council), the second stage constructed and opened in 1999 (by current City of Greater Bendigo Council), though like its former railway it was basic affair with rough surface and many low level crossings.
The potential was there though, and in 2009 the Friends of the Bendigo - Kilmore Rail Trail was formed by locals to lobby for the extension of the rail trail and advise the councils. In 2010, the Bendigo Council and Victorian Government committed to a significant upgrade of the rail trail including installing bridges on the Axedale section, and extending it a further 26 km to Heathcote. This work was completed in 2015.
Possible future developments
A feasibility study commenced in February 2016 that will assess:
an extension of the trail from Heathcote to Wallan (connecting with the railway passenger service between Melbourne to Wodonga)
a link between Wallan and the Craigieburn Bypass Trail and then to Melbourne’s network of bicycle trails
a linking trail between Kilmore to Tallarook and the start of the Great Victorian Rail Trail
another linking trail from Heathcote to the developing Murchison-Rushworth (Waranga) Rail Trail.