Rail trail link

Rosemary Sorensen | Bendigo Weekly | 24-May-2013

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BRIDGING the gap: Garry Long and Colin Campbell. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN
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When those with a love of history team up with keen cyclists and walkers, bridges are built.
Work has started on a bridge across the Campaspe River at Axedale, to link the path that follows the former Bendigo to Heathcote railway line.
Known as the O’Keefe Rail Trail, the path runs 19 kilometres from the Bendigo Creek Linear trail to Axedale, where it is interrupted by the Campaspe.
“This footbridge is the first step across the blockage,” convenor of the Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail Garry Long said.
“Depending on the final route, when the trail is finished in December 2014, it will be between 45 and 50 kilometres, and there will be money allocated in (council’s) budget in 2014 for interpretive signs.
“It’s a great asset for Bendigo and a real economic boost for the small towns along the way.”
Built by Civil Bridge and Wharf, the three-span bridge, downstream from the McIvor Highway bridge over the Campaspe, will be 48 metres long.
Greater Bendigo mayor Lisa Ruffell said the construction is expected to be completed by the end of June.
She said there are also plans to build a McIvor Highway underpass on the Axedale side of the river to link the rail trail with the new bridge.
That project will begin early in the new financial year and is expected to take four weeks to complete.
“Completion of these two projects will represent a major milestone for the extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale to Heathcote,” Cr Ruffell said.
Mr Long said the Friends have been working on reinstating historic sidings along the path.
“There’s been some great work done in the past two years to upgrade the surface,” he said.
“There’s still a long way to go, but there are plans in place to extend it further than Heathcote.”
Mr Long said the Bendigo-Kilmore line, surveyed before 1887, is being used by increasing numbers of people.
“Some people use it for physical wellbeing, and there are also history seekers, those interested in transport history,” he said.
“One of our goals is to gather bits of history, so when people walk or cycle the trail, they are aware of the past.”

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