Cycle Victoria, Mountain Bike Ride, O'Keefe Rail Trail Bendigo to Axedale

Travellers have been taking this historic journey from Bendigo to Heathcote since 1888, when the train service was a Victorian Railways timetabled Wallan - Bendigo schedule. Trains stopped running in 1958, and the route lay largely dormant until the first section of the O’Keefe Rail Trail opened in 1993. Today the recreational trail which is located on the site of 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.

This rail trail begins in the heart of Bendigo at Lake Weeroona. It slowly winds its way along the creek, through the inner suburbs until finally heading out to the countryside and into the bushland that surrounds the Bendigo area as you head towards Axedale. The trail offers some exhilarating riding in parts, but much of it is on compacted gravel and lends itself to an enjoyable outing. You may wish to pack some supplies and enjoy a break along the way.

Terrain

In Bendigo the path is bitumen, but after it crosses the highway it becomes compacted gravel. From here on the rail trail has a variety of surfaces, some requiring thick tyres for stability, making it a great ride for mountain bikes. There are a few short creek crossings that may require you to dismount.

Traffic

The only trafficked area to be aware of are the two highway crossings. Otherwise you will find yourself out in the bush until you come to the small hamlet of Axedale.

Access

The ride commences at the Lake Weeroona car park opposite the Tennis Centre in Nolan Street. VicRoads Map: 607 T4.

Food and Drink

The lakeside cafe near the start has meals and cakes. There are also facilities including barbeques on the other side of the lake beside the Midland Highway. Axedale has a general store, hotel and barbeque facilities, but there is nothing along the trail.

Side Trip

The trail starts, sharing the Bendigo Creek path and this could be added on as a short detour. You could also head back along the path into central Bendigo.

 

More Details

Beginning at Lake Weeroona you will head off along the creek canal and follow it as it winds its way through the inner city of Bendigo. At 0.5kms you will cross Weeroona Avenue. This is a busy road, so take care. Watch out for the right hand turn on the track at the 1.0km point. Take this turn and it’s just a short ride to the Midland Highway.

Once over the highway follow the creek path until you see the arches of the railway bridge which make an interesting crossing under the train line. The path then twists and turns through the bush following the small creek. The trail passes through a light industrial area well disguised by bushland buffers. Once out of Bendigo don’t be surprised to see kangaroos in amongst the various hobby farm animals or even ahead of you on the path.

At the 5.9km mark you will turn off onto the right hand branch of the track. There is a sign to indicate this. The trail crosses the McIvor Highway at 6.9kms. The trail recommences a little further to the left, behind the bus shelter, once you have crossed the road. At Bennetts Road you will come upon the Bendigo Field Naturalist Club Flora Reserve. A highlight of the trail is the suspension bridge that passes over the Axe Creek. Here you will find picnic seats and shady trees hanging over the tranquil creek. Get off your bike to explore the creek side.

Be sure not to ride too quickly across the bridge because there is a set of steps at the other end that you will need to walk down, unless you are proficient on a mountain bike. The trail deviates down into some small gullies along this part of the track. Watch out for them, as you may need to hop off your bike. Back on the trail the journey continues through to Axedale as you pass behind the historic and surprisingly large cemetery, which is well worth a look.

This is indicative of how large the thriving gold rush town once was. There are a few right-left turns as you follow the red and white signs into town where your journey ends at the general store.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Starting at the Lake Weeroona car park on Nolan St, follow the path to the left. It runs between the lake and the canal.
  • 0.2 The path divides. Take the upper path on the lake side.
  • 0.5 The path crosses Weeroona Ave. Take care as this is a busy, four lane road.
  • 1.0 Look out for the right hand turn, as there is no sign.
  • 1.2 The trail crosses the Midland Hwy. Rejoin the trail at the beginning of the O’Keefe Rail Trail.
  • 1.4 The trail crosses Bob St and continues under the railway arches.
  • 2.3 Cross over Murphy St.
  • 2.9 Trail crosses Rohs St. Between this point and Pratts Rd you will cross McDowalls Rd.
  • 4.3 After crossing Pratts Park Rd you will have the Bendigo Regional Park on your left.
  • 5.9 You will be in the bush at this point but watch out for a sign indicating that you need to turn right to continue along the O’Keefe Rail Trail.
  • 6.1 Now cross Atlas Rd and continue along the trail ahead.
  • 6.9 When crossing the McIvor Hwy take some care. The track recommences on the other side of the highway behind the bus shelter.
  • 13.3 This is a delightful stopping point at the Axe’s Creek Suspension Bridge. Take care with the crossing.
  • 17.0 From this point keep an eye out for short deviations off the main track down into gullies.
  • 17.1 The trail crosses Giris Ln and comes back parallel to the highway on your left. The track continues past a closed park. The path at the entrance has been obstructed, but continue on towards Axedale.
  • 20.5 The trail finishes at this point however you continue into Axedale with a right hand turn into Cemetery Rd.
  • 20.8 Turn left and follow the red signs into Axedale.
  • 21.2 Take a left turn into Shadforth St.
  • 21.6 Turn right into Eddington St and follow it as it becomes Raglan Place East. You will see the playground on your left as you pass by.
  • 21.7 Make a final left hand turn as you ride up the hill into Axedale.
  • 22.2 Ride finishes opposite the general store.
  • Trail map

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    22.214 km / 13.803 mi

    Total Distance

    130 m / 426 ft

    Total Ascent

    167 m / 549 ft

    Total Descent

    238 m / 782 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 22.2
    Elevation Gain: 254
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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