top of page

6-11 June: The Vinelander returns to Mildura on an epic Slow Rail Journey exploring Outback Victoria




Be a part of history travelling on the first Standard Gauge passenger train to Mildura as the Vinelander proudly returns to the Sunraysia on this six-day not-to-be-missed Slow Rail Journey.


Join the Vinelander as it returns to Mildura on this epic Slow Rail Journey. Explore Outback Victoria and be a part of history travelling on the first standard gauge passenger train to venture to Mildura and Yelta. Journey from Melbourne through the green plains of southwestern Victoria, skirt the Grampians and explore the goldfields before striking north across the flat plains of the Mallee to the vast arid expanses of Outback Victoria. Spend a day immersing yourself in this spectacular region on our signature Outback Explorer tour featuring a number of bespoke activities. Sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning views from the panoramic windows of our Standard Gauge fleet on a historic journey you will not soon forget.

Fully inclusive fares from just over $400 per person per day.





Jump to:







Highlights




After track closures to change the gauge, slow speed restrictions while new track formations were fully upgraded, Covid shutdowns and many other delays, the Vinelander is finally returning to Mildura, returning a passenger train for the first time since the line was standardised.




 

Itinerary


Thursday 6-June

Your Slow Rail Journey will commence with an

arly bon-voyage breakfast held at the historic Savoy Hotel (where we will check-in guests and provide seat and accommodation allocations for the weekend) before 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. Sitting on the platform - and greeting you like an old friend - is Slow Rail Journey's fleet of Standard Gauge passenger carriages that make up the Vinelander, our heritage train perfectly juxtaposing the modernity and hustle surrounding.


Upon boarding, your Carriage Attendant or Platinum Host will greet you as you settle into your private train for the our epic journey. From the moment you step onboard, you'll immediately relax into the Slow Rail Experience.



At 8:05 am the Vinelander will wake up the station as the whistle is sounded, announcing our departure along the Standard Gauge line toward Geelong and Ararat.


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 main Melbourne - Adelaide rail corridor. Maroona today has a population of approximately 80 but sports a hotel, general store and sporting precinct.



Departing Maroona, the Vinelander skirts the spectacular Grampians mountain range as it makes its way through Ararat into the Pyrenees wine region. The Pyrenees is a place of wild and beautiful landscapes, down-to-earth locals, amazing food and wine, and a history rooted 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 all 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 – great for mountain bike riding, hiking and camping, catering to all skill and fitness levels. Avoca is host to the Pyrenees Unearthed Avoca Wine Festival, held in April each year, where you have the opportunity to 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 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 a visitor comes 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. Admire the highly polished timber ceiling and beautiful tessellated floor at the main entrance.



Upon arrival in Maryborough, guests will be transferred by coach to the luxurious RACV Goldfields Resort, approximately 30 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 the town of Creswick.


Rooms feature fairway 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.




Friday 7-June

After a gourmet breakfast in the RACV Resort's dining room, guests are transferred back to the Vinelander, which will be 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 town is also known for the Lions' Train Park - a railfan heaven adjacent to the station.



A short onward journey takes us to Woomelang, the hidden jewel of the Mallee, which hosts not just the best pub for miles around but also eight mini-silos painted by the same street artists whose work features on the famous Mallee Silo Art Trail.



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.


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 generally occurs once every two years.



Continuing north along the Calder Highway, take in the spectacular views as we make our way through Red Cliffs to the historic city of Mildura - at the crossroads of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia and where the Vinelander will make its historic return.



After transferring to your accommodation for the next two nights and settling in enjoy a gastronomic experience that features the best of Australia's food bowl before retiring for some well-earned rest.


Saturday 8-June

Today guests will enjoy Slow Rail Journey's flagship touring choice program.


Mildura is a vibrant regional city full of contrast. From the Murray River to the outback, there is something for everyone, and while we can only sample the tip of the iceberg of the attractions this fascinating region offers, we hope your brief stay whets the appetite for a longer journey to the region.




Mildura is famous for its rich river history - and there is no better way to experience it than onboard a privately chartered paddle steamer cruise aboard one of the region's most historic boats - once the lifeblood of the area surrounding the Murray.


Image thanks to Hawkeye Photography


Enjoy a second gastronomic experience in Mildura before retiring for the evening and the Vinelander's journey south.


Further details will be provided closer to our departure regarding our Mildura touring options.






Sunday 9 June

Today guests re-join the Vinelander to tour the Mildura region by rail. Explore the spectacular Hattah National Park, ride on the unique Red Cliffs Railway and more on this day you won't soon forget. More details about the touring program on Sunday will be made available soon.



Monday 10 June

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 the 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 simply 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 Hormans above all others. They are a humble couple who are both wise and knowing and who 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 both born in the district and were married in Lascelles in 1967. Together with their two sons and now their families, they have continued the family tradition of wheat farming and strong community involvement.



Continuing south, the Vinelander makes a very short journey to Woomelang, where a lunch stop will once again be made.



Back onboard the Vinelander relax as we make our way south through Birchip, Donald and St Arnaud toward Maryborough and 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 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 11-June

All good things must come to an 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.



The Standard Gauge railway line between Ararat and Maryborough is very rarely used by passenger trains - and ours is the first to operate along since standardisation. While high-speed Velocity trains operated on the Broad Gauge network speed between Maryborough in 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 course south to Maroona and Cressy and finally east through Geelong to Melbourne!



Joining the main Western Standard Gauge line in Ararat, 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.






 

Classes and Tour Options





Enjoy a premium epic adventure staying in the highest class deluxe, superior and upgraded rooms and travelling in the comfort of dedicated carriages onboard.



Inclusions:

Platinum passengers enjoy the absolute best experience the regions we visit can offer - an unparalleled level of comfort travelling in dedicated carriages with spacious seating and staying in the highest quality upgraded accommodation available.


Platinum passengers travel in exclusive carriages reserved solely for Platinum guests. Each guest will be seated in a forward-facing seat or a spacious booth seat arranged perfectly around a picture window. Each group has a guaranteed window seat.


For more information regarding seating for Platinum guests, see:


Platinum Class Seating Options
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.69MB





Platinum Class guests will be accommodated in the following hotels en route:


The Goldfields (Two nights - 6 and 10 June): RACV Goldfields Resort

Sitting on 150 acres of land in the Victorian Spa Country, RACV Goldfields Resort features a host of wellness facilities, rooms, and suites with luxurious spa baths. There is an impressive 18-hole championship golf course on site.


The resort comes with 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 a workout in the gym before spending a peaceful afternoon in the spa.



Mildura: (Three nights - 7, 8 and 9 June): Mercure Mildura Hotel - Superior or Deluxe Rooms Mercure Hotel Mildura offers contemporary accommodation near the famous Murray River. It features an outdoor swimming pool. Free parking is available here.


Rooms at Hotel Mercure have modern furnishings, which include air conditioning. Guests can stream entertainment such as Netflix via the flat-screen TV. Each room also has ironing facilities and bathroom amenities in the en suite bathroom.


The hotel features a large outdoor pool area which includes sun loungers and shaded seating along the side.


Mercure Hotel is 250 meters away from the shopping venues of Langtree Avenue.



Platinum guests may also be accommodated at the Quality Hotel Mildura Grand. The Quality Hotel Mildura Grand offers sophisticated Mildura accommodation in a historic building and is located in the heart of Mildura, opposite the beautiful Murray River. Mildura is a modern and vibrant town centrally located 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.








Enjoy an upscale adventure by staying in 4-star plus accommodation and enjoying our renowned Slow Rail Journeys service.



Inclusions:

Gold Service passengers enjoy an upscale adventure, staying in luxurious accommodations and travelling in a comfortable dedicated carriage onboard the Vinelander.


Gold passengers travel in a dedicated carriage with seats arranged into groups of four or six facing each other. Gold carriages will be sold so that every second seat remains vacant. Seats are in a fixed configuration, meaning some guests will be seated facing opposite the direction of travel. Guests will be able to upgrade to Gold Plus prior to departure, guaranteeing a seating group for your group only.




Gold Class guests will be accommodated in the following hotels en route:


The Goldfields (Two nights - 6 and 10 June): RACV Goldfields Resort

Sitting on 150 acres of land in the Victorian Spa Country, RACV Goldfields Resort features a host of wellness facilities, rooms, and suites with luxurious spa baths. There is an impressive 18-hole championship golf course on site.


The resort comes with 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 a workout in the gym before spending a peaceful afternoon in the spa.



Mildura: (Three nights - 7, 8 and 9 June): Mercure Mildura Hotel - Superior Rooms or the Quality Inn Grand Hotel Mildura Mercure Hotel Mildura offers contemporary accommodation near the famous Murray River. It features an outdoor swimming pool. Free parking is available here.


Rooms at Hotel Mercure have modern furnishings, which include air conditioning. Guests can stream entertainment such as Netflix via the flat-screen TV. Each room also has ironing facilities and bathroom amenities in the en suite bathroom.


The hotel features a large outdoor pool area which includes sun loungers and shaded seating along the side.


Mercure Hotel is 250 meters away from the shopping venues of Langtree Avenue.


Gold guests may also be accommodated at the Quality Hotel Mildura Grand. The Quality Hotel Mildura Grand offers sophisticated Mildura accommodation in a historic building and is located in the heart of Mildura, opposite the beautiful Murray River. Mildura is a modern and vibrant town centrally located 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.








 

Timetable (Subject to Change)










 


Route Map








 


Locomotives


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









Image Credits:

Hawkeye Photography - image with the red cliffs overlooking the river

Vast Depth Photography - image of the bridge with the town in the background



bottom of page