Rail Trail Plan welcomed

July 5, 2024 BY

Popular attraction: The 49-kilometre O'Keefe Rail Trail stretching from Bendigo to Heathcote is popular with cyclists, walkers and runners. Photo: SUPPLIED

FOLLOWING community consultation, City of Greater Bendigo has adopted a plan for ongoing development, management and promotion of the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

The trail runs from Bendigo to Heathcote and is a key nature-based attraction for residents and visitors to the region for walking, cycling, trail running and horse riding.

CoGB mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the plan looks at how the area can be governed, managed, maintained, improved, promoted, funded, activated, evaluated, and made safer and more biodiverse.

“The recommendations and content of the plan creates clarity with the City and the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s key stakeholders,” she said.

“It reaffirms the City’s commitment to working with the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group.

“It ensures that a clear, proactive and planned approach is taken to the ongoing development and management of the trail to promote increased usage by both residents and visitors alike.”

O’Keefe Challenge president Kerstin Brauns said the board is thrilled with the O’Keefe Rail Trail Plan 2024.

“It provides a planned approach to maintain and improve amenities along the trail making it even more attractive to local users and those from further afield,” she said.

“This year’s O’Keefe Challenge event was the second biggest yet and participants new to the area were keen to come back and visit again which brings in revenue to Heathcote businesses and services.

“It’s great that council is on board with a plan to keep the trail in tip top condition for all users and make improvements in the future to make it an even bigger drawcard for Heathcote.

“The O’Keefe trail has spectacular scenery through farmland, forest and Lake Eppalock. New users will be attracted to the area and previous users will keep coming back to a trail that is well maintained.

“Being an easy driving distance from Melbourne, it could become one of Victoria’s top rail trail attractions which have become super popular in recent years.”

Ms Brauns is also president of Advance Heathcote which has advocated for an extension of the trail towards Kilmore and Murchison.

“With Council’s O’Keefe Rail Trail Plan committing to maintenance and trail improvements it makes it easier to attract funding to make any future extensions more feasible,” she said.