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 mix of asphalt sections (townships) and rolled fine to course gravel in the other areas. The trail was significantly upgraded in 2013 and is being further upgraded in 2014. For cycling, the trail surface overall is currently most suitable for MTB or hybrid bikes.
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).
There are two alternative return routes. One is along frest 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 (see www.bendigokilmorerailtrail.com).
Explore the 65km Bendigo Bushland Trail by bike or on foot. Map from Bendigo Visitor Information centre.
The Bendigo Creek Trail transects urban Bendigo, from Epsom in the north to Kangaroo Flat in the south. Map signs along the way.
Whipstick and Kamarooka State Parks are just north of Bendigo. Both have good short walks and forest cycle trails.
Bendigo - At the north western end of Lake Weeroona, off Weeroona Ave, car parking is available. Cafe and other facilities are around the lake area. Bendigo station is 3km to the south.
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 - Peppercorn Park off Longlea Lane
Axedale - High St at the Axedale Public Hall, car parking , playgrounds and public toilets.
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 highway next to the Baptist Church at Junortoun.
Pass the former 'Strathfieldsaye' railway station site, noting the new replica sign.
After 12km is Axe Creek, with its new at-grade bridge. A place to have a picnic.
Next is the former Longlea railway station site (now named Peppercorn Park).
After crossing Taig Road, the trail passes the former Axedale Railway Station, then over the Hargreaves Creek and arrives at the Axedale Racecourse Station with its reconstructed platform facing wall.
The trail now diverts off the original railway alignment, to follow a newly constructed trail into the Axedale township, via an asphalt section, for water, toilet facilities, the General Store and Axedale Tavern.
Continue on the trail's urban asphalt path, within street reserves, down to the River Reserve area on the Campaspe River frontage.
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 most of them, though the Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail are erecting signs and are recreating sections to add to the experience of the rail trail.
Axedale to Heathcote (26km)
There is funding to extend the trail from Axedale to Heathcote and significant developments are occuring in 2014.
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. Turn left into Ingam Rd and follow the road until shortly before the McIvor Hwy. Follow the trail, crossing Brownes Lane, until you cross the McIvor Hwy near Toollen Axedale Rd.
The path is being extended to the edge of the Knowsley Forest in April 2014.
The section of the trail within Heathcote has also been opened (approximately 3.2 km between Speed Street and Pink Cliffs Road).
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.
There is also interest in converting more of this former railway into a rail trail, between Heathcote and Kilmore, Wandong and Wallan, connecting with the railway passenger service between Melbourne to Wodonga and also the Hume Freeway. Wallan is but a short distance then to Craigeburn and the Melbourne trail network.
The trail is managed by the City of Greater Bendigo. Refer to their website below to report any issues.