Weekend of 28-30 Oct, 2022
Experience the elegance of a bygone era as the Grainlander ventures along the Robinvale Line to Korong Vale, Boort and Quambatook. Experience a screening of the famous Silo Cinema, attend the Quambatook show and related festivities, tour the much acclaimed Spanner Man Art Exhibition and relax for a day of slow rail travel along freight exclusive railways with alight and explore historic towns all while enjoying the hosted fully inclusive Grainlander service.
Fares from $750-$1,095
All Slow Rail Journey weekend tours are fully hosted and inclusive of all meals and tours. All passengers travel in restored sleeping carriages complete with with everything needed for the weekend and have access to the train's lounge, bar and other carriages.
Step back in time onboard The Grainlander and enjoy a weekend of slow rail travel venturing along the Robinvale Line into the Mallee visiting Korong Vale, Boort and Quambatook.
Entering Melbourne's busy Southern Cross Station you will immediately notice our historic steam locomotive R707 and our moving museum of carriages juxtaposing the modernity and hustle surrounding. From the moment you board you'll immediately relax enjoying the elegance of a bygone era.
At 10:01 pm The Grainlander will wake up the station as the whistle is sounded announcing our departure. Join your fellow travellers and tour organisers in one of two luxury Club Carriages with a welcome aboard drink and evening supper as we head south to Geelong before venturing along the freight only line to Ballarat where we will stop to resupply the train. We depart into the night passing Maryborough and crossing the Redwood forests of the Victorian Goldfields.
Awake to a spectacular Mallee sunrise as our train approaches the historic town of Korong Vale. Once a busy railway town, Korong Vale is the junction of the Kulwin Line (which runs northwest to Wycheproof and Sea Lake) and Robinvale Line (on which we will travel today). While only the remains of the old steam locomotive watering tower, a passing loop and single point junction remains today, in its heyday Korong Vale station had an island platform with footbridge access, two signal boxes, a marshalling yard, goods platform and shed, and a locomotive depot.
Just after 7am guests will have the opportunity to disembark the train to explore Korong Vale and to enjoy some Mallee hospitality as breakfast is served in the historic Scully's Hotel.
Scully's Korong Vale Hotel, which opened in 1891, has had a checkered history. As well as being a well patronised pub it was also a rooming house and bordello and is even said to have it’s own resident ghost!
After breakfast we rejoin the train to continue our journey north along the Robinvale Line toward Boort and Quambatook. Enjoy a barista made coffee in one of our luxurious lounge cars as our train slowly makes its way across the red soiled Mallee plains and through the townships of Borung and Mysia. The region surrounding Boort is famous for its local birdlife and sightings are not uncommon as we pass the Mysia Nature Reserve and Lake Boort approaching the town.
After passing Boort we continue north to the small hamlet of Barraport where guests disembark to experience what is likely to be one of the highlights of the weekend - an opportunity to tour the Spanner Man gallery.
John Piccoli, better known as the Spanner Man, was one of Australia's most unique artists. All of his sculpture is built entirely out of spanners, which he purchased at swap meets or in bulk from his local hardware. It is estimated that over 100,000 spanners, in sculpture form, are on display at the gallery.
John's work included, amongst other things, sculptures of mermaids, marlin, and even a full horse and wagon. Sadly John passed away in 2021, however his wife Sonia continues his legacy running the gallery we will visit today.
The approaching whistle of R707, which ran empty to Quambatook and back signals the end our visit to the Spanner Man gallery. Back aboard the train we retrace our steps to Boort, and then return north passing Barraport one last time on our way north to Quambatook where we arrive mid-afternoon.
Quambatook, the most northerly destination on our journey, is home to approximately 250 residents. Settled after the Victorian gold-rush, Quambatook quickly became one of the state's leading wheat and sheep producers. The town has been recognised as the tractor pulling capital of Australia with an annual competition, the Australian Tractor Pulling Championships, held every Easter.
The Grainlander's visit to Quambatook coincides with a weekend of festivities in the town. During our stop guests will have the opportunity to explore the Quamby Show, renowned for its produce, art, craft, photography and sculpture displays, along with a town Garage Sale and a variety of food establishments and events or to simple enjoy a drink in the infamous Quambatook Hotel.
After a dinner catered by the local food trucks that are a famous feature of all of Quambatook's large events, find a seat and settle in for a second highlight of the day - a screening of the famous Silo Cinema. The Silo Cinema, run by the local community, is one of Victoria's most unique attractions - movies are projected onto the side of the historic silo while an audience gathers under the stars to enjoy the screening.
While the movie being screened hasn't yet been confirmed, being Melbourne Cup Weekend we've been told to expect one that celebrates the equestrian theme of the celebrations.
After the Silo Cinema return to one of the train's lounge cars for a night-cap before enjoying a motionless night of rest in your private sleeping cabin. Early in the morning our train will slip out of Quambatook to being its journey south.
As guests sleep we will retrace our steps through Barraport and Boort to Korong Vale where we will once again make a stop for breakfast to Scully's Hotel, with more time to explore Korong Vale.
Departing Korong Vale settle in, enjoy a barista made coffee and relax into a day of slow rail travel as we make our way south and east to Melbourne. Departing Korong Vale we bid farewell to the flat plains of the Mallee and enter the Loddon Valley. The historic town of Wedderburn, which the railway skirts to the east of, is the commercial hub of the agricultural valley. Continuing south the railway line parallels the Calder Highway as the line side vegetation noticeably increases.
Three quarters of an hour after departing Korong Vale The Grainlander will arrive Inglewood. Following the discovery of gold in 1859, the population of Inglewood swelled to over 40,000 people making it the site of one of the largest mineral migrations in Australian history,
The Grainlander will remain in Inglewood for just over an hour and a half giving ample opportunity to disembark and explore the town. The historic centre of the town, located on Brooke Street is a short 700 metre walk from the station.
After departing Inglewood the railway turns south toward Dunolly, Maryborough and Ballarat. A cold lunch will be served in the train's bar car as we travel south into the redwoods of the Goldfields.
After passing the historic town of Dunolly The Grainlander will arrive Maryborough in the early afternoon. Famous for hosting one of Australia's most ornate country railway stations, Maryborough is a major commercial hub for the Goldfields.
Our train will stop for long enough to explore the station while the locomotive is serviced and replenished before continuing south into the afternoon through the heart of the Goldfields. Towns including Clunes, Talbot and Creswick will flash by the windows as many guests make their way to the bar to chat with new friends made onboard.
Mid afternoon The Grainlander will make an hour stop in Ballarat, again to service and replenish the locomotive, giving an opportunity to explore the historic station and vicinity or perhaps to take some last photos of the train or the locomotives from the platforms or station footbridge.
After departing Ballarat a locally sourced afternoon tea is served in the lounge car as the train steams over the dividing range and through Bacchus Marsh offering a spectacular view of Melbourne's lights. It's then a quick run into Melbourne Southern Cross, where our train will arrive and terminate in time for dinner in the city.
Enjoy overnight travel aboard our fleet of heritage sleeping cars.
The train will feature a fully stocked bar/club car, a luxurious lounge car and Cafe Hudson offering light snacks, espresso coffee and other refreshments along with a number of additional carriages.
Our train to tocumwal will feature steam locomotive R707 "City of Melbourne" assisted at times by our heritage diesel fleet.
fares and booking
All sleeping car fares include linen, meals (excluding drinks), accommodation and all coach tours outlined in the itinerary above.