HIDDEN away for more than 50 years, a section of the former Heathcote Junction-to-Bendigo railway line was revealed when 32 volunteers came together for a working bee on November 21 to clear a pathway along a 1.2km section.
The working bee’s aim was to uncover a section of former railway line as a start to creating an off-road trail between Wallan and Kilmore, with volunteers clearing falling timber and cleaning up weeds and plant growth.
The former railway easement is situated at the top of the Great Dividing Range, and was locked away for more than half a century to allow remnant native tree and plant species to survive.
Members from the Mitchell Bicycle Users Group, MBUG, the Wallan Environment Group, the Merri Creek Management Committee, the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, cycling associates of Wheelhouse Bikes, and a Rail Trails Australia representative from Melbourne came together for the working bee, with Mitchell Shire representatives also paying a visit.
Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail group’s spokesperson Lindsay Clay said the work conducted had created a basic trail.
He said Mitchell Shire Council was negotiating a lease from VicTrack, so the land could be permanently used for recreational purposes.
“This is a fantastic development, but it’s only the start,” he said.
“If Mitchell Shire were to also lease a similar tract of land closer to Kilmore, it would enable the community-minded people here to very quickly create a basic trail all the way from Wallan to Kilmore without impacting on any privately owned land.
“Bearing in mind the lack of recreational facilities in this rapidly growing area, this can only be of great overall benefit to the local community.”
One crew started at the Arkells Lane end of the trail while the other volunteers started at the Hidden Valley end.
MBUG president Pauline Duff said volunteers used rakes and their hands to clear the trail of sticks, fallen timber and debris up to the cutting near the Leslie Station site, while others started at the site and worked towards Arkells Lane.
“It was a great turnout in excellent working conditions and it was good to see the involvement of so many locals working together with people from outside the area,” she said.
“These groups were brought together with a single purpose of making this trail a reality for use by anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Thanks to all those who selflessly gave up their time and energy on the day.”