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6-8 September: The Grainlander Steam to Sea Lake and the Spectacular Mallee Silo Art Trail



Journey behind steam locomotive R707 aboard the Grainlander to explore the spectacular Mallee region of Victoria. Be amazed by the once derelict silos that have been transformed into giant canvasses hosting spectacular art works along the Silo Art Trail. Gaze at the pink salt crusted inland sea of Lake Tyrrell. Tour the Mallee town of Wycheproof, home to Australia's smallest. Enjoy slow rail travel behind steam locomotive R707 from Ballarat to Sea Lake and back to Melbourne - one of the longest journeys by steam locomotive operating in the world. Dine in some of the best pubs and enjoy the best gastronomic experiences in the region. Don't miss this spectacular weekend Slow Rail Journey to one of Victoria's most famous attractions hauled by steam locomotive R707 enjoying one of the longest steam journeys in the world.

Fares range from $900-$1,445 per person.






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  • Tour Highlights 

  • Tour Itinerary 

  • Off-Train Experiences 

  • Fares 

  • Timetable 

  • Route Map 

  • Sleeping Accommodations 

  • Train Facilities, Lounge Cars and more 

  • Locomotives 










Journey Highlights



Step back in time onboard The Grainlander to enjoy a weekend of slow rail travel to some of the Victorian Mallee country's most beautiful townships and famous attractions.








Itinerary


Friday 6 September - All Aboard

Your Slow Rail Journey will commence with a bon-voyage dinner held at the historic Savoy Hotel prior to you being escorted by our friendly volunteers to the train.


Entering Melbourne's busy Southern Cross Station, you will immediately realise you are embarking on a journey like no other. One of your tour hosts for the weekend will greet you and usher you onto our departure platform as masses of commuters make their way to trains bound for Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and more. Pulling into the platform shortly after is the imposing string of 1950s and 1960s carriages that make up the Grainlander that perfectly juxtapose the modernity and hustle surrounding. From the moment you board, you'll immediately relax and enter the elegance of a bygone era.



Sometime after 8 pm the Grainlander will wake up the station as the whistle is sounded announcing our departure.


Our adventure begins shorty after our departure when we divert from the main Melbourne – Ballarat line to run through Geelong and along the rarely seen freight line to Ballarat via Lal Lal as guests relax into the rythm of the train, perhaps enjoying a night-cap in the Club 1 Lounge as the city begins to melt into the country and the lights become more spaced apart and eventially disappear outside.


Shortly before midnight the Grainlander will arrive In Ballarat where steam locomotive R707, the "city of Melbourne" will be coupled to the train to pull us north into the Mallee. R707, which ran to Ballarat earlier in the day for provisioning was built in Glasgow in 1951 and was restored by the Seven-O-Seven Operations volunteers.








Saturday, 7 September - Touring the Mallee

Sipping bubbly with Adnate’s colourful celebration of North-western Victoria’s Indigenous culture looming above, painted on an abandoned wheat silo, is a truly breathtaking experience. With the faces of the elders and children changing colour as the sun sets, this is the perfect way to conclude an amazing day touring the Mallee region of Victoria and one of the many breathtaking experiences planned for today.


The early morning sees us depart Ballart and into the night under steam, passing Maryborough and crossing the Ironbark forests of the Victorian Goldfields.




Awake to the sun rising over a different world. The flat wheat fields of the Mallee have replaced the urban landscapes of Melbourne. Welcome to the Mallee!



At 6:55 am, the Grainlander will pull into Wycheproof - one of the major centres of the Mallee region. Enjoy breakfast in the dining car and a morning stroll or perhaps a chance to view R707 up close and personal as the crew services her in anticipation of our journey north.



Back onboard, settle in for our journey to Sea Lake. Barista coffee is served as R707 steams up the Main Street of Wycheproof and north further into the Mallee toward Sea Lake - the end of the line!


Approximately 50 minutes after departing Wycheproof, the Grainlander will stop in the small hamlet of Nullawil for the first off-train experience of the weekend. Looming over the siding in Nullawil is artist Sam Bates, aka Smug's work depicting kelpie sheep dog Jimmy, who often makes a cameo appearance.



After enjoying the silo art in Nullawil, rejoin the train as it steams north across the plains, R707’s whistle being heard for kilometres around before arriving at Sea Lake and the start of our second off-train experience.



Once home to the Mallee Rally and a substantial salt mining operation, the town today is reinventing itself as the gateway to Lake Tyrrell and as one of the main gateways to the famous Mallee Silo Art Trail.



After our arrival in Sea Lake, board coaches for the short journey to Lake Terrell - Victoria’s Inland Sea and likely a highlight of the weekend.



Lake Tyrell is an inland sea in the heart of the dry Mallee country. This shallow, salt-crusted depression just a few kilometres North of the township of Sea Lake has recently become a tourist mecca, with photographers and social media users visiting to take photographs of the lake's mirror-like surface during winter. During dry periods, visitors can walk out onto the lake area by using places where salt has formed a solid surface.



Returning to Sea Lake, visit the spectacular celebration of the still and silence found in outback Victoria depicted on the town’s silo.


About 20 minutes drive from Sea Lake lies Woomelang, home to a number of mini-silos and the regionally famous Woomelang Hotel.


In Woomelang, we join local publicans Graham and Lisa, who put on an impressive spread for lunch, and the mini-silos offer some interesting touring.



In addition to lunch, Woomelang is home to a unique work of public art, with grain hoppers (or "Mini Silos") being painted around the town as a tribute to the region's now endangered wildlife.


Several generous local farmers (and the artists themselves) donated the mobile field bins (usually used to transport and store grain on the farm) to become unique canvases with artworks with a group of famous artists with other works along the Mallee Silo Art Trail commissioned render beautiful paintings of rare and endangered species of the region, painted by the renowned artists that feature along the Mallee Silo Art Trail, and whose names will become familiar as the afternoon progresses, including works by Jimmy Dvate and Kaff-eine.




During our stay in Woomelang we will make two stops to visit four of these amazing artworks, and a stop to visit the town's historic sheering shed.


Leaving Woomelang, should time permit, we will make a stop at Rone's spectacular artwork in Lascelles.



After Lascelles, short drive takes us to Rosebery, where Melbourne artist Kaff-eine, after spending some time in the region, has depicted themes that she says embody the region’s past, present and future. The silo on the left captures the grit, tenacity and character of the region’s young female farmers, who regularly face drought, fires and other hardships living and working in the Mallee. In her work shirt, jeans and turned-down cowboy boots, the strong young female sheep farmer symbolises the future.

The silo on the right portrays a quiet moment between dear friends. The contemporary horseman appears in an Akubra hat, Bogs boots and an oilskin vest – common attire for Mallee farmers. Both man and horse are relaxed and facing downward, indicating their mutual trust, love and genuine connection.



A further short drive takes us to Brim, the first silo to be painted and the inspiration for the trail we are exploring today. Completed in early 2016 with limited financial resources, Melbourne artist Guido van Helten’s mural depicts an anonymous, multi-generational quartet of female and male farmers. Rendered across these four 1939-built GrainCorp silos, van Helten’s subjects bear expressions that exemplify the strength and resilience of the local farming community.



Our final silo visit will be in Sheep Hills, where we will enjoy a sparkling wine reception with Adnate’s depiction of Wergaia Elder, Uncle Ron Marks, and Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood, alongside two young children, Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald i as a spectacular backdrop.



After a glass of bubbly beneath our last Silo Art Instillation, the coaches return us to Wycheproof for a quintessential country pub dinner followed by a night of restful sleep as the train remains stabled in the town.








Sunday 8 September - Relax into the rhythm of Slow Rail Travel back to Melbourne.

Awake to another Mallee sunrise and the opportunity to explore Wycheproof on our off-train experience in the town.

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Enjoy breakfast in the dining car and our Wycheproof Explorer Off-Train Experience, allowing you to ascend to the summit of Mt. Wycheproof - Australia's smallest mountain - and learn more about the region's history at the local museum or perhaps shop for that perfect gift at the town's op shop.



At 10:00 am, the Grainlander whistle will sound, and our train will set off south. Settle into a relaxing day of slow rail travel as the Mallee melts into the Ironbark forest and undulating countryside of the Goldfields.



A locally sourced lunch will be served onboard in the dining car as the train passes through the Ironbarks of the Goldfields before the Grainlander makes a short stop at the historic station in Maryborough to service the locomotive.



Departing Maryborough settle in for the final afternoon aboard as the Grainlander steams through Ballarat and over the ranges toward Melbourne. Afternoon tea is served in the dining car as the train speeds along the main Ballarat - Melbourne line.




After a spectacular view of Melbourne descending the range, we speed through the suburbs into Melbourne, Southern Cross, where our train will arrive and terminate at 6.05 pm.








Off-Train Experiences








Timetable










Route Map










Sleeping Carriages


Enjoy overnight travel aboard our fleet of heritage sleeping cars.














On-Train Facilities












Locomotives


Our train will feature steam locomotive R707 "City of Melbourne" between Ballarat and Sea Lake, assisted at times by our heritage diesel fleet. Due to servicing needs, R707 will be attached to the train in Ballarat. The train will be hauled by a heritage diesel locomotive between Melbourne and Ballarat.













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