If you’re into walking or riding, get in training for the O’Keefe Rail Trail, fast becoming a Bendigo cycling hotspot.
Travellers have been taking this historic journey from Bendigo to Heathcote since 1888, when the railway line first linked the towns during the gold rush. Victorian railway pioneer Andrew O’Keefe is recognised for his construction of many local railway lines. He migrated to the goldfields from Ireland in the wake of the great potato famine, finding his fortune in iron track.
Today the recreational trail located beside the old railway line again allows users to journey the full 49 kilometres, albeit at a slightly slower pace. It’s just as well too, as there’s lots to take in. The safe, mostly-level walking and cycling trail is one of Victoria’s great family-friendly journeys. It passes through some spectacular natural bushland, past waterways and recreation reserves. Stop off at the Axedale township for great pub fare at the local Tavern or pack your own picnic. Here the trail crosses the pretty Campaspe River which is a stunning natural river environment, and habitat for platypus.
Lake Eppalock provides another excuse to recharge by the water. Take a dip in the warmer months or drop in a line and try your luck with the redfin. Throughout the year trail users can also spot wildlife such as wallabies, kangaroos and koalas, and of course view the beautiful wildflowers along the trail.
To ensure users are supported through their journey, the trail also offers on-trail water stations at key locations (Junortoun and Axedale), bike repair stations (Junortoun, Axedale and Heathcote), shelters, tables and interpretative and directional signage along the 49km trail.
Pack your bag for a stopover in Heathcote, where superb restaurants, wineries, a brewery and bed and breakfasts await. Check the events calendar to see if one of the town’s many food and wine festivals or markets coincides with your visit.
For lovers of history the trail also showcases replica railway stations, an original railway wagon and regular interpretative signs outlining the history of the trails development.
Today passionate community members contribute to the care and promotion of the trail, as well as some great events, such as fun runs and marathons. The O’Keefe Challenge in April celebrates fitness, nature and family fun, plus Heathcote’s infectious community spirit.
Please click here to download the O'Keefe Rail Trail Map.
You can interact with the ride profile below for further details on the trail.