Progress in 2014
This group of enthusiastic volunteers have continued their work throughout 2014 with regular working bees along the trail between South Geelong and Drysdale rail stations. Whilst new plantings have continued, there is greater emphasis on maintenance work to ensure that earlier plantations continue to grow and develop. So our work now tends to involve less planting but more weeding, watering and mowing.
The trail continues to function as a community asset of which we can all be proud. We see a growing number of users, both walkers and bike riders, many coming from afar to experience an opportunity to engage in a healthy, cost-free activity, which can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Some enjoy using just a section of the trail, whilst many cyclists ride the full 34 kms to Queenscliff. Others take part in organised group activities such as the Salvation Army annual walk, which when conducted on Saturday 8th November 2014, raised nearly $23000 to assist homeless persons in the Geelong area.
Sealing of the trail has continued with a further 2.5 km section between Jetty Road and Portarlington Road at Curlewis completed in 2014. This means that more than 75% of the 16 kms of trail between South Geelong and Drysdale has now been sealed from funding provided jointly by the state government and City of Greater Geelong. Further works completed under this funding include installation of a new picnic shelter and park furniture on the rail trail reserve near the site of the "Curlewis Dip" (this is at the rear of the Curlewis Golf Club).
The installation of pedestrian/cyclist crossing lights, where the trail crosses Jetty Road in Drysdale, is due for completion in 2015.
Mountain to Mouth Event
The Mountain to Mouth Extreme Arts Walk event was conducted for the first time on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th May 2014. Walkers were accompanied by a ceremonial canoe which carried water and fire 80 kilometres from Big Rock in the You Yangs, to finish at the mouth of the river at Barwon Heads at dusk on Saturday. The closing ceremony was presided over by Mayor Lyons of Geelong dressed in mayoral robes, and saw the canoe being launched to sea in a burst of flame before being carried out on the tide.
This unique community event incorporated a program of music, visual arts, storytelling and sporting elements along the way. People of all ages took part, exercising their personal choice of either covering the full 80kms or just one or more shorter stages to suit.
The Bellarine Rail Trail formed an important part of the journey, incorporating several ‘stations’ for refreshment breaks along the way. The Christies Road rock garden area, developed by the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail at Christies Road Leopold, was featured in the form of a labyrinth, as one of several environmental projects encountered during the walk.
Lone Pine Tree at RSL site
The Lone Pine tree in the photo has more than doubled in size since it was planted as a seedling at an Anzac Day ceremony at Curlewis in April 2011. A bronze plaque on the rock in the foreground bears the inscription ‘Aleppo Pine, descendant of the original lone pine of Gallipoli. Presented by Legacy.’
The photo shows the Ocean Grove Barwon Heads RSL site at the Avenue of Honour, Curlewis, which is dedicated to fallen members of the armed forces from the Bellarine Peninsula. This area has been planted out as a joint initiative of the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail and the Ocean Grove Barwon Heads RSL sub-branch. In November 2014, several Flanders poppies were planted next to the tree in remembrance of all those who served in the Great War
Located at the former Curlewis rail siding, this was one of several sidings/stations built along the Bellarine rail line after it was established in 1879, primarily as an integral part of the Port Phillip Bay defence system to supply Queenscliff and other forts located at the south end of Port Phillip bay. The rail line for many years carried not only military needs, but also passengers, outgoing farm produce and incoming supplies to local farmers and townships. It was finally shut down in the 1970’s, a victim of more efficient road transport systems.
Fred Cook from the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail volunteer group, and Wally Gee from the Ocean Grove Barwon Heads RSL, are shown in the photo paying respect to those who have served in our armed forces.
Adjacent to the site there is now a shelter from the weather, picnic tables seats and a water fountain, all provided by City of Greater Geelong for users of the trail, together with signage telling of the history of this former rail siding.
Fred Cook (FBRT) with Wally Gee (Ocean Grove Barwon Heads RSL).
Rock Garden Development at Christies Road, Leopold 2010-2014
A raised garden bed has been developed in the reserve adjacent to Christies Road. Several large rocks were installed to provide an attractive visual feature, whilst at a later working bee, 450 native seedlings were planted, watered, mulched and plant guards installed in this area. The rocks were provided by way of donation, and we also gratefully acknowledge the valuable assistance of Robertsons Transport who transported the rocks and positioned them on site.
In early 2014, additional garden beds have been developed in this location including a further 250 plantings with construction of a new feature in the form of a labyrinth.