The Borderlands Steam Adventure
From Brisbane To Toowoomba, Warwick, Goondiwindi, Armidale, Tenterfield, - 9 Nights
- Departing from:
- Toowoomba, Warwick, Goondiwindi, Armidale, Tenterfield,
- 9 Nights
- Travel Dates:
- 01/05/24 to 10/05/24
- Offer Expires:
- Tour Operator:
- Railway Adventures
- Reference Code:
Price per person
The 1880’s saw a number of nation building events that inspire the core of this adventure across Southern Queensland and Northern NSW. In the mid 1880’s Queensland’s railway construction boom reached Warwick, which soon became one of the main railway towns in the state. By the late 1880’s Queensland and NSW were joined by rail at Wallangarra and in 1889 Sir Henry Parkes arrived by special train to Tenterfield and marched up to the School Of Arts where he delivered his famous ‘Tenterfield Oration’, paving the way for the states to push ahead with Federation. Nation building, railway revolutions and the border lands of NSW and Queensland are pivotal themes in this exciting adventure.
Queensland is blessed with one of the longest narrow-gauge rail systems in the world (3’6” – ‘Cape Narrow’), which has given the state’s trains a character of their own. From our welcome dinner at the ‘Transcontinental Hotel’ in the heart of Brisbane, the theme of a nation linked by rail will unfold. Travel from Brisbane to Ipswich, Toowoomba, and Warwick, before taking the rare chance to travel by steam to the border at Goondiwindi.
Further explorations around the border country and the New England by privately chartered railmotor expand your horizons before we return by specially chartered steam train on the Great Northern Railway, the original Sydney to Brisbane line across the Granite Belt to Stanthorpe and Warwick and our final hurrah back in Toowoomba.
This rich adventure will take you on some of the rare sections of the region’s railways not normally traversed by passenger trains. All the while the unique character and history of these once busy lines will be revealed from on board our special steam hauled heritage trains. Trace the route of the border with NSW on this comprehensive tour and experience the stories of the linking of the colonies of NSW and Queensland via the Great Northern Railway.
Day 1 • Wednesday 1 May:
We begin our adventure with a briefing and celebratory welcome dinner and drinks at the historic Transcontinental Hotel with the group and your tour leaders setting the stage for the journey ahead.
Overnight: Mercure King George Square Hotel, Brisbane (D)
Day 2 • Thursday 2 May:
BRISBANE – TOOWOOMBA
After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a coach trip heading out of Brisbane to visit the Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum, one of Australia’s premier museums, built around the living history of one of the country’s great industrial complexes. Here you have time on your own to explore the world-class collection and tour the restoration work in progress. Early lunch is provided in the cafeteria before we head off for Toowoomba with our pair of luxury coaches offering two seats per person. The journey today takes you across the wide flood plain via numerous historic towns like Grandchester, Laidley and Gatton before ascending the ranges and winding its way up the escarpment where we pause at the iconic and charming railway halt, Spring Bluff, to stretch our legs and smell the roses before taking the the last dramatic leg into the grand city of Toowoomba in the afternoon.
After checking into our hotel, you have the rest of the afternoon at leisure and time to take advantage of the central location of the hotel before heading across the road to Encores Restaurant beside the wonderful Art Deco Empire Theatre.
Overnight: Burke and Wills Hotel, Toowoomba (B, L, D)
Day 3 • Friday 3 May:
TOOWOOMBA – WARWICK – GOONDIWINDI
It’s an early start this morning as we head out after breakfast by coach to Warwick to meet our special steam train for the run to Goondiwindi. Once every few years the Southern Downs Steam Railway volunteers gather to explore this region by steam, and while it’s open to regular travellers too, we’ll have our own dedicated heritage carriages and attendants. Shortly after leaving the yard our train branches out onto the western line and then morning tea is served on board as we travel west via Karara and Inglewood. Here, on the platform of the classic timber station, we have a BBQ lunch with the local Lions Club. The next stop along the way is at Yelarbon to view the painted silos, a spectacular sight in the surrounding countryside. Later in the afternoon, we arrive at Goondiwindi where you are transported to your downtown motel by coach for some time to settle in and relax. This evening we gather for dinner close to your accommodation at the Customs House Museum, a National Trust property on the banks of the river run by local volunteers who provide a wholesome heritage themed meal.
Overnight: Various Motels, Goondiwindi (B, L, D)
Day 4 • Saturday 4 May:
Today is yours to choose between two different options. If you want a day out of town, you can board our train departing at 8.00am for a rail journey further west along the line to the little village of Toobeah where the publican will have second brekky available and excellent coffee on tap. Our coach will follow the train so for those who want to keep going, you can jump on board and journey on to the end of the existing operational railway line where lunch can be had at the local pub at Thallon. The publican here is a real character as is his dog and pet Wombat! You then continue with an exploration of the painted silos and surrounding region before returning to Goondiwindi later in the afternoon. But if you’d rather come back to Goondiwindi on the train after second brekky, you can do that too, arriving back in town around 11.00am for the rest of the day at leisure.
Alternatively, if you’d rather learn more about Goondiwindi itself, you have the option to gather for a tour of the Cotton growing industry in and around the town. We visit various facilities and fields and also drop into Goondiwindi Cotton, a popular local establishment where you can sample the many locally produced products, including some great clothing.
Both of these activities will allow enough time to head out to the popular Goondiwindi show where all the local displays, ring events, and sideshows are in full swing up until 8:00pm when the event is capped off with a fireworks display.
Dinner tonight is a relaxed and hearty pub meal at the Victoria Hotel, hosted from 6pm until the last of you are fed. Just come along when it suits your schedule!
Overnight: Various Motels, Goondiwindi (B, D)
Day 5 • Sunday 5 May:
GOONDIWINDI – ARMIDALE
This morning we hit the road heading south into NSW for a day of train travel on the lines of northern NSW.
After breakfast, our coaches will deliver us to Moree where we board our privately chartered railmotor for the trip down the line to Armidale. Our luggage stays on the coaches so we are unencumbered for our rail journey through Narrabri, Boggabri, Gunnedah, and Breeza before pulling into the grand old junction station of Werris Creek. Here we enjoy a BBQ lunch on the grand old station platform with time to explore the excellent museum and National Railway Monument before our train departs for the next leg on the Great Northern Railway through Tamworth, Kootingal, and Uralla to Armidale, where we are reunited with our luggage before checking in to our hotel. Free time is offered after check-in and then dinner will be provided in the restaurant at the hotel.
Overnight: Rydges Hotel, Armidale (B, L, D)
Day 6 • Monday 6 May:
After breakfast, enjoy a full day of sightseeing around this charming regional city. First off, we explore the Victorian estate of Saumarez, a grand country homestead set in magnificent gardens, and a veritable time capsule of how the wealthy and influential White family lived and worked. The on site café provides a mighty fine morning tea, a short intermission before a precursor to a guided tour of this authentic country estate. We then head back into town for a visit to the wonderful New England Art Museum and a short city tour before driving down the highway to Uralla. Here, lunch is hosted by the volunteers at McCrossin’s Mill Museum, who also guide us through their gallery and heritage collections. You can then head directly back to Armidale for an afternoon at leisure or take our optional tour on a round trip to the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park via Gostwyck and Dangarsleigh.
The evening is yours for some free time to explore the many dining options in and around Armidale, including of course our own hotel which has a fine restaurant.
Overnight: Rydges Hotel, Armidale (B, L)
Day 7 • Tuesday 7 May:
ARMIDALE – TENTERFIELD
This morning after breakfast we begin our exploration by luxury coach of the route of the old Great Northern Railway. Along the way we will visit the interesting little town of Guyra with its own little railway twist. Then we continue to Inverell where we take a tour of this attractive town, ending up at the National Transport Museum for lunch. You’ll have time to explore the vast collection of historic vehicles and memorabilia at this award-winning museum before heading further down the road to Glen Innes. This city takes special pride in its Celtic heritage, and we take time to reflect on the amazing standing stones on the hill overlooking the town.
The next leg of our tour continues north from Glen Innes on our exploration of the old Great Northern Railway. Sadly, the line in this part of New England is closed, however much of the infrastructure remains and along the way, we’ll see things like the grand old stations, long truss bridges, and scenic sections of this once pivotal railway. We end up in Tenterfield at the excellent Railway Museum at the station, which will also be the site for our afternoon tea. Later we check into our motels and enjoy some time to relax.
Dinner this evening is a grand affair befitting the location at the Henry Parkes School of Arts. It was here in 1889 that Sir Henry, having just arrived by special train on his way to the colony of Queensland delivered his famous Tenterfield Oration which set the scene for a growing push for Federation. We will have dinner here across several of the rooms at the museum, and the bar will feature local and regional wines and beers. After which it’s a short stroll back to your motel.
Overnight: Best Western, Peter Allen Motor Inn or Jumbuck Motor Inn, Tenterfield (B, L, D)
Day 8 • Wednesday 8 May:
TENTERFIELD – WALLANGARRA – WARWICK
Enjoy a day of classic steam-era train travel, with a feast of scenery following the route of the original railway from Sydney to Brisbane. To begin our day, we head north a short distance by coach to the border town of Wallangarra. This was the transhipment point and the change of trains for all inter-colonial traffic due to the break of gauge. Thankfully, the unusual island station has been beautifully restored and hosts an interesting museum and a great restaurant. Tables will be laid out along the platform and a lavish breakfast will be hosted as our train rolls in from Warwick and shunts around to get ready for the next leg of our journey on the old Great Northern Railway. Descending the great divide our special train takes us along the Granite Belt to the city of Stanthorpe where we pause at the old station for a morning tea before continuing down the range to Warwick. Arriving in the early afternoon, we take a short city tour and check into your accommodation. Enjoy some down time before gathering again for a delicious buffet dinner at the Coachman’s Inn.
Overnight: Coachman’s Inn (or similar) Warwick (B, L, D)
Day 9 • Thursday 9 May:
WARWICK – TOOWOOMBA
After a leisurely breakfast, we head back down to the station and board our train for the last leg of our steam adventure. Our train chuffs out of Warwick heading north across the Darling Downs to Toowoomba, stopping along the way for morning tea at Clifton where the station is now a museum and tea rooms. On arrival in Toowoomba, our train shunts around and heads back to its home at Warwick. There’s now some free time to explore the city and have lunch on your own, making your way either by foot or coach to the hotel in time to check-in. Later in the afternoon you have the choice to head out once again to visit one of the region’s great destinations, the excellent Cobb and Co Museum.
Our celebratory farewell dinner this evening is hosted in an appropriately railway-themed site, the museum depot and station of the Downs Steam Railway Heritage Centre. We’ll hear about the fine work being done here and the great plans afoot for future operations while enjoying drinks and a fine dinner in the diner.
Overnight: Burke and Wills Hotel, Toowoomba (B, D)
Day 10 • Friday 10 May:
TOOWOOMBA – DEPARTURES
Our tour comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Our coaches will be on hand to transfer you to your departure point, whether it be the airport or railway station in Toowoomba or Brisbane – giving you some time to chat and reminisce about your excellent adventure of the Borderlands of Southern Queensland and Northern NSW. (B)
- 9 nights in comfortable, centrally located accommodation
- All excursions and entrance fees to attractions, as listed in the itinerary
- Breakfast daily, 6 lunches and 7 dinners as per the itinerary
- Comprehensive sightseeing with expert local guides
- Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
- Luggage handling throughout
- Luxury private coach transport
- All other personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, camera fees where applicable
- Excursions/entrances listed as optional in the itinerary
- Meals and services not mentioned in itinerary