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15-20 August: The Vinelander returns to Mildura, taking the path less travelled through the Murray-Sunset to Murrayville and exploring the Spectacular Sunraysia.



Following its triumphant return in June, The Vinelander will again venture to Mildura, taking the path less travelled to the Murray-Sunset, Murrayville and the Sunraysia.



The Vinelander will return to Mildura in August on a bigger and even more ambitious Slow Rail Journey, touring Mildura and the Sunraysia and offering an epic adventure to Murrayville and the Mallee-Sunset. Don't miss your chance to be part of history on this unmissable holiday with a difference!



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The Vinelander - 15-20 Aug 2024
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$2,395 pp twin share and $2.690 for solo travellers. All fares include all five nights' accommodation, meals, tours, and rail travel.






  • Relax on your private train, The Vinelander, as it travels between Melbourne, the Goldfields, and Mildura (and return), enjoying spacious seating, picture windows, and Slow Rail Journey’s signature service.

  • Enjoy three nights at the Grand Hotel or equivalent in Mildura and two at the exquisite RACV Goldfields Resort

  • Visit Murrayville and the Murray-Sunset by train (with a visit to the Pink Lakes and the silo art in Walpeup) or tour the moonscapes of Mungo National Park on a private coach.

  • Experience a private river cruise to the stunning Trentham

  • Estate and exclusive access to Mildura’s best attractions.










The Vinelander Tour Highlights







Summary Itinerary



Wednesday

For those guests staying in-house at the Savoy Hotel, Welcome to Melbourne! If you are staying at the Savoy, or are close to the area we encourage you to make use of the Wednesday evening train check-in to eliminate lines the following morning.

Wednesday in detail


Thursday

With a sense of anticipation, meet your fellow travellers early this morning to commence our epic exploration of one of the most spectacular corners of Victoria. After breakfast, board the Vinelander as it bids farewell to the suburban sprawl of Melbourne and Geelong, crosses the fertile green southwestern plains, skirts the Grampians, and crosses the scenic Pyrenees before arriving at the Goldfields and our luxury accommodation for the evening.

Thursday in detail


Friday

Today we leave the Ironbark forests and granite hills of the Goldfields behind, travelling north into the great vistas of Mallee Depression before finally arriving the irrigated oasis of the Sunraysia.

Friday in detail



Saturday: Guests will have three touring options to select from:

Today, explore the majesty of Outback Victoria with three touring options.

Saturday Touring Option 1: Travel on the Vinelander to the Murray-Sunset

Saturday Touring Option 2: Travel by coach to the Pink Lakes returning by train

Saturday Touring Option 3: Visit the moonscapes of Mungo National Park



Sunday

Experience the best of the Sunraysia and some relaxation time in Mildura before boarding the PB Mundoo for a daylight cruise to Trentham Estate. After sampling some of the best wine the Sunraysia has to offer, reboard the Mundoo for an evening dinner cruise back to Mildura.


Sunday in detail



Monday

Bid farewell to the Sunraysia as the Vinelander transports you to the heart of the Mallee. Admire awe-inspiring silo art, feast on locally sourced produce and finish the day in the granite peaks and ironbark-clad forests of the Goldfields.


Monday in detail




Tuesday

All good things must come to an end, and today, the Vinelander crosses the Pyrenees, skirts the Grampians and crosses the fertile southwestern plains before all too soon the wide vistas of the Mallee and Sunraysia are replaced by the back fences of the houses in the populated Port Phillip basin, and finally the gleaming glass skyscrapers of Melbourne’s CBD.


Today, you will have two options - either remain onboard the Vinelander or take an Express return to Melbourne, arriving mid-morning.

.

Option 1: Return to Melbourne on the Vinelander

Option 2: Express return to Melbourne








Full Itinerary


Wednesday 15 August

For those guests in or around Melbourne's CBD, the Slow Rail Journeys team will offer a check-in service allowing you to get your cabin, group and hotel allocations and boarding passes and chat with one of your Train Managers before departure.



Thursday 16 August

Your Slow Rail Journey will commence with check-in at the historic Savoy Hotel.



Entering Melbourne's busy Southern Cross Station, you will immediately realise you are embarking on a journey like no other. Sitting on the platform is the Vinelander, its heritage train perfectly juxtaposing the modernity and hustle surrounding it.


Upon boarding, settle into your private train for our epic journey. From the moment you step onboard, you'll immediately relax into the Slow Rail Experience.



Right on time, the Vinelander will wake up the station as the whistle sounded, announcing our departure along the Standard Gauge line toward Geelong and Ararat. Relax as a welcome drink is served to your seat, and Melbourne disappears behind the train.


After a brief stop at North Shore station on the northern outskirts of Geelong, the Vinelander will swing west to cross the Moorabool Viaduct, leaving the populated coastal plain surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which is home to more than 80% of Victoria's population behind, running through the rural hamlets of Inverleigh, Cressy and Derrinallum toward the Grampians and Pyrenees.



After traversing the Western Standard Gauge line, which was built in 1995 to replace the Board Gauge link between Melbourne and Adelaide (providing a direct link from Melbourne to Perth, which before 1995 involved trans-shipping goods in Adelaide from Broad to Standard gauge, or running via NSW), we arrive into the township of Maroona - a rural village some 20km south of Ararat where the line from Portland and the coast joins the Melbourne - Adelaide rail corridor. Today, Maroona has a population of approximately 80, but it has a hotel, general store, and sporting precinct.



Departing Maroona, the Vinelander skirts the spectacular Grampians mountain range passing Ararat and venturing into the Pyrenees wine region. The Pyrenees is a place of wild and beautiful landscapes, down-to-earth locals, fantastic food and wine, and a history deep in the gold rush. For all its natural wonders, the Pyrenees is largely undiscovered. Still untamed and underexplored.



Mid-afternoon, the Vinelander runs through Avoca, where the town's wide main street is a delight to explore with hotels, cafés, gift shops, galleries and collectables housed in historic buildings dating back to the 1850s. Avoca is becoming known as an antiques and collectables centre. If you love poking around in bric-a-brac and collectable stores, you know that no vacation is complete without some time spent bargaining over some treasures. The township is surrounded by the Pyrenees Mountain Ranges, which is great for mountain bike riding, hiking, and camping, catering to all skill and fitness levels. Avoca hosts the Pyrenees Unearthed Avoca Wine Festival, held in April each year, where you can try many of the Pyrenees Wines all in one location while strolling the banks of the Avoca River.



After passing Avoca, the Vinelander continues into the Goldfields for the final sector of the day and goes to the Goldfields town of Maryborough. A testament to a rich past shows in the Central Goldfield’s grand buildings, historic cottages, and gracious homes. Today, many visitors come to walk in the footsteps of the prospectors of the Victorian gold rush era.



Centred in the heart of Victoria’s Golden Triangle, Maryborough is midway between Bendigo and Ballarat, making this picturesque town the perfect base to explore the goldfields of Victoria. Maryborough has a splendid cluster of heritage buildings centred on the Maryborough Civic Centre. The elegant architecture of the courthouse, Town Hall, Post Office and Old Fire Station display the fine workmanship of a bygone era.


Perhaps the most iconic building in the town is the historic Maryborough Railway Station, dating back to the 1890s. The station is reported to have the most extended platform in country Victoria. At the main entrance, admire the highly polished timber ceiling and beautiful tessellated floor.



Upon arrival in Maryborough, guests will be transferred by coach to the luxurious RACV Goldfields Resort, approximately 45 minutes from Maryborough Station, to enjoy dinner and night in a luxurious hotel room.


Set perfectly amongst the history and nature of the Goldfields, mid-way between the mineral springs of Daylesford and the historic city of Ballarat, RACV Goldfields Resort is set in beautiful bushland outside Creswick.



Rooms feature fairways or forest views set amongst the sounds of the Australian bush. Dine on classic favourites and signature dishes featuring quality local produce and seasonal ingredients. Enjoy a luxurious spa treatment (additional) and unwind for the evening.



This evening, join your crew for the Train Manager's welcome drinks, followed by a gourmet dinner.








Friday 16 August

After a gourmet breakfast in the RACV Resort's dining room, guests are transferred back to the Vinelander, awaiting departure from Maryborough's historic railway station - one of the most beautiful in Australia. Departing Maryborough, the Vinelander passes the historic town of Dunolly before continuing north through St Arnaud (where the town's spectacular silo art may be visible) to Donald, where a brief stop is made. Donald is a country town with a lively spirit. Situated on Lake Buloke and close to several famous granite outcrops, the city is also known for the Lions' Train Park, a railfan heaven adjacent to the station.




Continuing north, relax as the flat Mallee plains make way for the arid landscapes of the outback as the Vinelander continues north through towns the trains' famous namesake sped through in the middle of the night - Lascelles, Speed—Tempy and more.



During your time onboard, enjoy locally sourced morning, lunch, and afternoon tea, provided in partnership with our regional partners.



Mid-afternoon, the Vinelander will make a stop in Ouyen - a small country town located 441km from Melbourne by road; the Ouyen township is in the heart of the Victorian Mallee and surrounded by a beautiful array of national parks: Wyperfeld, Hattah-Kulkyne and Murray Sunset National Parks. All three parks have an abundance of drought-resistant wildflowers (as many as 100 varieties), unique wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, with access tracks throughout. Built to serve the dryland grazing surrounding it, Ouyen proudly supports an array of community clubs within the town, including a thriving Football and netball Club, Lawn Bowls, Lawn Tennis Courts, a Golf Course and a Swimming Pool.



Departing north, the train skirts the spectacular Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, which lies in typical Mallee country with extensive low scrub and open native pine woodland. Superbly adapted birds, animals and vegetation thrive in the poor, sandy soils and searing summers.



The freshwater Hattah Lakes is seasonally filled by creeks connected to the Murray, providing food and shelter for waterbirds and fish. These lakes can remain full for up to ten years without flooding, but flooding occurs once every two years.



Continuing north along the Calder Highway, we will enjoy spectacular views as we pass Red Cliffs to the historic city of Mildura at the crossroads of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.



After transferring to your accommodation for the next two nights and settling in, enjoy a gastronomic experience served at the historic Mildura Club, located in one of the city's most significant historic buildings and by Tim from the renowned Verdict Catering.



Before returning to your hotel for some well-earned rest.





Saturday 17 August

On Saturday, choose from one of three touring options.


Options one and two offer tours of the spectacular Murray-Sunset, while the third offers a chance to see the spectacular Mungo National Park.


Option 1:

join the first train to operate along the remote outback branch line from Ouyen to Murrayville and explore the spectacular Murray-Sunset National Park. We intend to offer two options today - a return journey from Mildura to Murrayville by train or the option to travel through the spectacular Murray Sunset on a specially designed tour to join the train in Murrayville for the return journey.



The Murray-Sunset, home to the famous Pink Lakes, is a remote and unspoilt corner of northwestern Victoria that draws photographers worldwide.


As we explore this fascinating region, we will enjoy some of the finest sunsets in the world and look out for spectacular birdlife, such as Malleefowl, Regent Parrot, Red-lored Whistler, and Mallee emu-wren.



After retracing our steps from Mildura along the fringe of the Hattah-Kulkayne National Park to Ouyen, we take the path less travelled, venturing west where few trains operate along Victoria's most remote branch line - the 109km link between the outback town and Murrayville, located deep in the Murray Sunset close the South Australian border.



The railway from Ouyen to Murrayville was initially opened in 1912 before being continued a short distance across the South Australian Border to Pinnaroo in 1915. Today, the line serves the region's grain and livestock industries and was converted to Standard Gauge as part of Victoria's Big Build along with the line to Mildura. At its heyday, the line connected Pinnaroo with a South Australian line to Tailem Bend, providing a second link between Melbourne and Adelaide - albeit via the very scenic route! The link to South Australia was severed by a gauge change when the branch from Victoria was standardised, and the line between Pinaroo and Tailem Bend closed in 2015.



Murrayville, the furthest Victorian town from Melbourne, has a population of 280 and is the hub of a vibrant agricultural industry, including cereal crops, sheep, and cattle; other industries are potato farming and other small crops. An underground basin of high-quality water supplies irrigation only to potato farms.


After lunch in Murrayville, reboard the Vinelander for a second run along the branch to Ouyen, enjoying the region's namesake Mallee sunset as the Vinelander speeds east.


A highlight of the journey will be a stop in Walpeup, where guests will disembark to enjoy a glass of bubbly with Julian Clavijo & Camilo Delgardo's tribute to Harold Thomas Bell - perhaps the region's most celebrated war hero who lied about his age to enlist and went on to many feats of bravery - looming above.




Option 2:

Tour the Murray-Sunset departing Mildura later in the mid-morning, travelling by coach to the Pink Lakes to join the train to travel back to Mildura via the Walpeup Silo Art.



Option 3:

Mungo National Park is famous for its moonscapes, spectacular topography and unique features.



Your Mungo tour will begin with a 90-minute drive to the National Park. Before touring the spectacular national park, visit the Walls of China, see marsh-esque landscapes, and see rare Australian wildlife.


After lunch at the luxurious Mungo Lodge, enjoy a comprehensive mungo drive tour traversing the ruggedly beautiful terrain of the national park before returning to Mildura.



This evening, dinner will be served at the Grand Hotel before a restful night in Mildura.





Sunday 17-August

Mildura is a vibrant regional city of contrasts. From the Murray River to the outback, there is something for everyone. While we can only sample the tip of this fascinating region's attractions, we hope your brief stay whets your appetite for a longer journey to the area.


Today enjoy some free time in Mildura with options to visit the historic riverfront or Orange World, where Mario will not disappoint!



In the mid afternoon, join the PB Mundoo on a cruise up the Mighty Murray to the spectacular Trentham Estate.



After sampling some of the region's best wines, enjoy a dinner cruise on the Mundoo back to Mildura.







Monday 18 August

Welcome back on board the Vinelander!



After being picked up and valeted back to Mildura Station, it is time to relax into the rhythm of slow rail travel as we retrace our steps south through Hattah and Ouyen toward Mallee and its many attractions. Settle in next to a panoramic window as we depart Mildura. Chat with newfound friends, read a good book or stare at the majesty of this spectacular state out the window as the Vinelander speeds south.



Mid-morning, the Vinelander will stop in the small town of Lascelles, where guests will be invited to step from the train for an off-train experience marvelling at the spectacular silo artwork which looms above the town.



In Lascelles, Renowned Melbourne Street Artist “Rone” has painted the images of a local couple, Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, on the defunct wheat silos that tower above the town.


The town has a population of only 48 people on a good day, but Rone selected the Horman's above all others. They are a humble couple who are both wise and knowing and have nurtured the town with their vast farming experience and longstanding connection to the area.


Their family has lived in the area for four generations. Geoff and Merrilyn were born in the district and married in Lascelles in 1967. Together with their two sons and their families, they have continued the family tradition of wheat farming and strong community involvement.




Lunch will be served onboard the Vinelander as we make our way south through Birchip, Donald, and St. Arnaud toward Maryborough, our stopping point for the evening.


Arriving in Maryborough, board coaches for the short drive to the luxurious RACV resort - your luxury oasis for the evening. Relax in the resort's exquisite facilities after a long day on the road!



After settling into your overnight accommodation, join your fellow passengers and crew for a final dinner of the tour - a chance to solidify new friendships and relive some of the life-long memories you will have made over the past several days.





Tuesday 19-August

All good things must end, and today, our epic slow rail adventure onboard the Vinelander concludes with a scenic journey back through the Pyrenees, along the flanks of the Grampians and across the western plains toward Geelong and Melbourne.


Today, guests will be offered two options. Either:


  1. Return to Melbourne on our Express Return option, taking advantage of a transfer to Wendouree to board a regular V/Line train arriving at 10:51 am.; or

  2. Remain onboard the Vinelander to retrace our steps through Ararat to Melbourne, arriving at 7:02 pm.


Those remaining onboard the Vinelander will be transferred to Maryborough to reboard the train to retrace our steps through the Pyrenees.



The Standard Gauge railway line between Ararat and Maryborough is rarely used by passenger trains—ours is the first to operate along since standardisation. While high-speed Velocity trains operate on the broad-gauge network speed between Maryborough and Melbourne in approximately two hours via Ballarat, our leisurely 7-hour slow rail experience sees us loop the west of the state. We spend the morning travelling 87km west to Ararat before setting the course south to Maroona and Cressy and finally east through Geelong to Melbourne!



Joining Ararat's main Western Standard Gauge line, the Vinelander speeds toward Melbourne across one of the state's most productive wheat and canola growing regions.



It's not long before the open vistas outside are once again replaced with Melbourne's suburbs, and all too soon, the train arrives back into the modern world at Southern Cross Station, right on time.









Platinum Class onboard the Vinelander



Enjoy a premium epic adventure while staying in the region's best hotels, travelling in spacious carriages, and attending premium events.



Inclusions:

Enjoy the absolute best experience the regions we visit can offer.


Travel in exclusive carriages with each guest seated in a forward-facing seat or a spacious booth seat arranged perfectly around a picture window. Each group has a guaranteed window seat.





Accommodation will be in the following hotels en route:


The Goldfields (Two nights): RACV Goldfields Resort

Sitting on 150 acres in Victorian Spa Country, RACV Goldfields Resort features various wellness facilities, rooms, and suites with luxurious spa baths. It also has an impressive 18-hole championship golf course on site.


The resort has health and wellness facilities, ideal for guests seeking a relaxing break or business travellers who need to unwind. Swim in the pool, enjoy a post-journey game of tennis, or work out in the gym before spending a peaceful afternoon in the spa.



Mildura: (Three nights):

Grand Hotel Mildura or equivalent.


The Grand Hotel Mildura's sophisticated accommodation is in a historic building opposite the beautiful Murray River in the heart of Mildura. Mildura is a modern and vibrant town between Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Whether planning a holiday to Mildura itself or simply passing through, the Quality Hotel Mildura Grand offers a very convenient and relaxing place to stay.







Platinum Plus onboard the Vinelander


Enjoy additional space onboard for the ultimate journey.


Platinum Plus guests receive:

  • Priority seating selection (choosing between both and forward-facing options)

  • Guaranteed No-Neighbour seating - enjoy a booth of four for single packages and six for twin packages.

  • A guaranteed window and forward-facing seating are onboard.

  • Upgraded fairway view and quality / superior rooms at the RACV Goldfields Resort and in Mildura.









The Vinelander Route Map












Locomotives


Our train will feature two locomotives from our heritage diesel fleet.










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