The only original bridge on the outskirts of Bendigo (2009)
A grand entrance to the rail trail under the Bendigo - Echuca railway (2005)
Walkers enjoying one of the new bridges (2011)
Relatively flat rail trail traversing box-ironbark and yellow gum woodland
Trail surface is a mixture of gravel types, with some sections currently being progressively upgraded. The trail is still rough in certain sections. Trail surface overall is suitable for MTB or hybrid bikes only.
Horses are permitted though no formal bridal way currently exists. Horse riders are reminded to use walking pace only, and where possible, not to ride on the upgraded trail surface in those sections.
A major upgrade of the trail is currently funded and underway, which includes a trail extension from Axedale to Heathcote (2010-2014).
Alternative return route along forest tracks through box-ironbark woodland, then a main road and the One Tree Hill Regional Park.
Explore the 65km Bendigo Bushland Trail by bike or on foot. Map from Bendigo Visitor Information centre
Whipstick and Kamarooka State Parks are just north of Bendigo. Both have good short walks.
Bendigo - The northern car park, off Weeroona Ave, at Lake Weeroona. A café and other facilities are nearby. Bendigo station is 3km to the south.
Longlea - Peppercorn Park off Longlea Lane
Axedale - off the McIvor Highway via Mitchell Street.
North Bendigo to Axedale (23km)
From Lake Weeroona follow the Bendigo Creek Linear Park to a fork 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.
At the 4km point a trail branches to the north to the former army ammunition facility. The Bendigo Bushland Trail now joins the rail trail as far as Markovitch Lane.
Take care crossing the McIvor highway next to the Baptist Church at Junortoun.
After 12km is Axe Creek with its new at-grade bridge.
The rail trail proper ends at the site of the former Aexdale racecourse platform site after passing the former Axedale station site.
Continue on past Axedale cemetery, then follow the gravel road to the McIvor Highway and into town.The trail now ends at the Campaspe River at Axedale via some on road sections (as per map)
There are plenty of wildflowers including orchids in bloom in spring. Axe Creek bridge is a good place for a picnic.
Sites of former stations are marked on the map. Generally little remains of them though the Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail are erecting signs in December 2012 and plan to recreate sections in the future to add to the experience of the rail trail.
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.
In late 2012 construction started at Heathcote to extend the trail back to Axedale and some short sections with Heathcote are open.
There is also interest in converting more of this former railway into a rail trail all the way to Kilmore and the Hume Freeway, and connecting with the railway from Melbourne to Wodonga.
The trail is managed by the City of Greater Bendigo. Refer to their website below to report any issues.