- Rail Trail
- On Road
- Possible Rail Trail
- Other Trail
- former Railway
Why visit the O’Keefe Rail Trail?
- A well established easy rail trail that provides options of half- or full-day rides between Bendigo, Axedale and Heathcote through box ironbark and yellow gum woodland and grazing farmland, across the Campaspe River and past Lake Eppalock
- Take a two-hour morning train from Melbourne to Bendigo, ride 23 km to Axedale Tavern for a country pub lunch, then head for home or ride on and stay overnight in Heathcote, or stay overnight in Bendigo and enjoy all this regional city has to offer
- Many access points along the way for shorter cycling routes
- A stunning new bridge across the Campaspe River
- Heathcote is an attractive town with several accommodation options, a new brewery and is well known for its quality shiraz wines
- The Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve is close to town and shows off colourful eroded cliffs that remain from sluice mining
Sites of former stations are marked on the map but generally little remains of them. The Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail have erected replica signs and are recreating sections of platforms to add to the experience of the rail trail.
Wildflowers, including orchids, appear in spring.
- Bendigo – at the north western end of Lake Weeroona, off Weeroona Ave. Parking is available next to Bendigo Rowing Club rooms
- Cafe and toilets around the lake area
- Bendigo station is 3 km south on Railway Place
- East Bendigo – Pratts Park Rd (parking on Rifle Range Rd)
- Junortoun – car park off Wikie Rd
- Longlea – park along Longlea Lane
- Axedale – corner of High St (McIvor Hwy) and Mitchell St at Axedale Public Hall: parking, playgrounds and toilets
- Knowsley Forest – an entry point for the trail is near the intersection of Toolleen-Axedale Rd and McIvor Hwy; this leads into Knowsley Forest near the power line transformer pole. Note: take care entering and leaving McIvor Hwy
- Knowsley – parking near where the trail crosses Moorabbee Rd at Knowsley Tennis Courts
- Derrinal – a trail rest stop and replica station name board is opposite the former Derrinal Railway station, off Old Bendigo Rd, (park on the side of Old Bendigo Rd)
- Heathcote – carpark off Herriot St at the new rail trail shelter. Heathcote Visitor Information Centre, corner of High and Barrack Sts, has parking and trail information
North Bendigo to Axedale (23 km)
- From Lake Weeroona, follow the Bendigo Creek Trail north to a T intersection and turn right to begin the trail
- Cross Midland Hwy with care and go through the brick-lined culvert beneath the Bendigo–Echuca railway line
- Bendigo Bushland Trail crosses the 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): follow signs for the main trail
- Take care crossing the McIvor Hwy next to the Baptist Church at Junortoun
- At 12 km is Axe Creek, with a new at-grade bridge and a possible stop for a picnic
- The trail passes the former Axedale station before reaching Axedale Racecourse station
- The trail now diverts off the original railway alignment to follow a newly built sealed trail into Axedale township
- Continue within street reserves down to River Reserve on the Campaspe River frontage, where there are picnic tables and art installations
Axedale has drinking water, toilets, a general store and Axedale Tavern.
Axedale to Derrinal (17 km)
- The trail follows an underpass beneath McIvor Hwy, then crosses a rail trail bridge north of the highway over Campaspe River
- The trail meets quiet Ingham Rd; follow this up the hill to the dedicated trail
- Take care crossing McIvor Hwy near the Toolleen-Axedale Road
- The trail now enters Knowsley Forest. There is a picnic area about 300 m north along Smart Track, with a dam and table-seats
- After reaching Smart Track the rail trail returns to the original formation
- After Knowsley, the trail passes Moorabbee Hill Rest Stop where table-seats and bike racks provide an opportunity to relax and enjoy views of the Great Dividing Range
- The trail continues down hill to Lake Eppalock, which flooded some of the track but a purpose-built causeway and the 90 m Mt Ida Creek bridge allow the trail to stay on the original alignment. There is another picnic area on the causeway giving views of the lake
- At Derrinal a rest stop provides a view of the former station platform (now private property) across McIvor Hwy.
NOTE: trail users should respect all privately owned land. Take care crossing cattle grids between Knowsley Forest and Derrinal.
Derrinal to Heathcote (9 km)
- The trail skirts McIvor Hwy and enters One Eye Forest near Hills Rd
- ‘Rail trail users only’ status continues from Hills Rd to the Mia Mia-Derrinal road section, but take extreme care on the shared section between Mia Mia-Derrinal road and Burnt Track shared, especially at several narrow areas
- The last new trail bridge in One Eye Forest is located above a complete section of the original, much longer 1888 timber railway bridge
- Near the intersection of the Toolleen-Axedale road and McIvor Hwy is an entry point into Knowsley Forest, at a power line transformer pole adjacent to the highway
- Parking is available at the trail intersection with Moorabbee Rd in Knowsley, next to Knowsley Tennis Courts
- There is a trail rest stop and replica station name board opposite the former Derrinal station off Old Bendigo Rd. There is no formal carpark; park on the side of Old Bendigo Rd
- Heathcote Visitor Information Centre, corner of High St and Barrack St, provides trail information and parking. Other access points in Heathcote are in Herriott St at the back of Kyneton Rd, or at the end/start point of the trail at Pink Cliffs Rd.
We acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is constructed.
Development and future of the rail trail
Mitchell Shire Council received a Feasibility Study in 2018 that considered:
- an extension of the trail from Heathcote to Wallan (connecting with the railway passenger service between Melbourne to and 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
The Friends Group have produced two brochures outlining the vision for the first two sections.
Campaspe Shire is seeking funding to construct the Heathcote to Murchison Trail (outline brochure here) to complete the Murchison-Rushworth (Waranga) Rail Trail and link it to with the O’’Keefe Rail Trail.
Rail line history
This line was built in 1888 by Andrew O’Keefe to link Bendigo and Heathcote, from where here the it 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 reservoir was taking place and the rest of t) This lightly -trafficked branch line was then was completely closed by 1968.
The first section of a rail trail between Bendigo and Axedale was opened in 1993 (by the former Shire of Strathfieldsaye Council. The second stage constructed and opened in 1999 (built by current City of Greater Bendigo Council), though like its the 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 the 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 extension to Heathcote. This work was completed in 2015.
A grand entrance to the rail trail under the Bendigo - Echuca railway (2016 Bendigo Tourism (Bradd Worrell))
The only original bridge on the outskirts of Bendigo (2009)
Typical scenery on the trail between Junortoun and Longlea (2011)
Walkers enjoying one of the new bridges (2011)
The new bridge across Axe Creek viewed from below (2012)
The bridge crossing over the Axe Creek (2013)
The almost new railway wagon back at the Axedale station site. (Colin Scott)
Picnic area on the new causeway at Lake Eppalock, with a very low lake level (2015)
Lake Eppalock was at 100% in the spring of 2016 (Brad Worrell)
Cruising betweem Axedale and Heathcote. (2016 Bendigo Tourism (Bradd Worrell))
Forest scenery approaching Heathcote (2015)
The trail enters the forest at Knowsley (Andrew Lecky 2019)
Typical scenery near Heathcote (Les Lewis, 2015)
Family time on the rail trail (Les Lewis 2015)
Spring time near Heathcote (2015)
Community groups have contributed to turning the access point at Heathcote from a bare paddock into a feature (Andrew Lecky 2019)
The volunteer Friends of the Rail Trail have made and installed replica mile posts (distance from Melbourne) along the trail (2011)
One of three water and bike repair stations at Junortoun, Axedale and Heathcote. (Ken Hanson 2019)
In 2019 the Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail installed a bike repair station just east of Wilkie Rd Junortoun, a water station just east of Bennetts Rd in Junortoun, and a bike repair station and water station adjacent to the toilets at Axedale Park and at Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve next to the Visitor Information Centre.
Goldfields Bike Tours & Hire – 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.
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The Whistle Post installation team Recently the Friends ...More...
A former Victorian Railway’s wagon can now be admired on the O'Keefe Rail Trail ...More...
The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail (FBKRT) group have informed us of new signs ...More...
The last bolt had barely been inserted before the ...More...
The Mitchell Shire, City of Greater Bendigo, and State Government have funded a feasibility study ...More...
The hard working volunteers from the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail report on their ...More...
The Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail feasibility study formally began on 22 February 2016, with the selected ...More...
Now that the extension of the O'Keefe Rail Trail is open providing 50km of continuous ...More...
Following five years of hard work the Friends of the Bendigo Kilmore Rail Trail celebrated ...More...
The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail (FBKRT) group have informed us of new signs ...More...
The ongoing project to extend the O'Keefe Rail Trail in northern Victoria a futher 26km ...More...
Heavy machinery provided a good start in the autumn[/...More...
Improvements and developments on the O'Keefe Rail Trail in northern Victoria continue apace. Over the ...More...
O'Keefe RT upgrade. Following up from the announcement of funding by Regional Development Victoria and ...More...
The Victorian Government has committed $1.9 million for a 24 km extension of the O'Keefe Rail Trail ...More...
The following notice has been provided by the Friends of the Bendigo - Kilmore Rail ...More...