Victorian Steam Safari & Railway Adventure
From Melbourne To Castlemaine, Bendigo, Echuca, Ballarat, Halls Gap, The Murray River, Daylesford, Maldon, Maryborough, Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Grampians National Park. - 9 Nights

Departing from:
Melbourne
Destination:
Castlemaine, Bendigo, Echuca, Ballarat, Halls Gap, The Murray River, Daylesford, Maldon, Maryborough, Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Grampians National Park.
Duration:
9 Nights
Offer:
Travel Dates:
19/11/22 to 28/11/22
Offer Expires:
19/11/22
Tour Operator:
Railway Adventures
Reference Code:
RA

From

AU$5,485

Price per person

Package Details

Overview

The dawn of the railway age in Victoria was perfectly timed, coming hot on the heels of the greatest gold rush in Australia’s history. The windfall from mining royalties was crucial in funding the construction of the country’s first main line railways. These branched out in the 1850s and ‘60s to reach the ‘Pot of Gold’, the Murray River, at Echuca in 1864. Here, the riverboat trade was also booming and the coming of the railway added another spoke to this already busy hub. Our special short adventure celebrates this golden age of rail and river transport in the colony of Victoria. It culminates in a kind of re-enactment of the famous ‘meeting of the whistles’ at the Port of Echuca, where steam train and steamboat connected in a hail of whistles echoing over the town and river – the sound that once reminded one and all of the prosperity and enterprise of their great state. Join us on a journey that showcases not only Victoria’s culturally rich cities and towns, but also its unique natural beauty, iconic gold-rush history, sublime local gastronomy and character-filled railways. We begin our journey by experiencing the efficient, modern regional rail service before embarking on steam-powered transport that takes us back in time, and then on to the state’s northern border. Here we experience the mighty Murray aboard the quaint PS Emmylou paddle steamer, where we enjoy a lunch cruise on this iconic vessel. Our next departure point is Bendigo staying in the grand old Shamrock Hotel and exploring the city at length. We visit Maryborough’s grand station which is also a monument to another age and then settle into Ballarat for a few nights to explore the region, including a visit to Daylesford for a private charter of the charming DERM Railway and time at Sovereign Hill to explore and view the recently revamped light and sound show. Victoria’s natural beauty is on show at the Grampians National Park and rides on The Overland, Puffing Billy and Australia’s premier rail restaurant the ‘Q Train’ cap off a mighty trip around The Garden State in the height of autumn.

Details

DAY 1 • Saturday 13 November:
ARRIVE MELBOURNE
Arrive in Victoria’s vibrant capital and check-in to your hotel.

The Grand Hotel is the former headquarters of Victoria Railways and conveniently located right next to Southern Cross Station and is rich in railway history. I

n the evening, we’ll enjoy a celebratory welcome dinner with the group a short walk from the Hotel.

Overnight: Batman Hill on Collins, Melbourne (D)

DAY 2 • Sunday 14 November:
MELBOURNE – CASTLEMAINE – MALDON – CASTLEMAINE
We depart Melbourne this morning, travelling by regional express train to the quaint goldfield town of Castlemaine.
Here we take some time to explore the town before heading down to the railway station.
Here we’ll embark on a steam-hauled tour on the Victorian Goldfields Railway along the old branch line. E

xplore Maldon, an iconic gold rush town awarded the ‘most intact townscape’ by the National Trust, before heading back to Castlemaine in the mid-afternoon.
Your first-class ticket allows you to ride in the wonderful parlour cars with access to the bar for some refreshments along the way if you so desire. You then have the rest of the late afternoon to enjoy the delights of Castlemaine and visit the historic town Centre and extensive ‘Mill’ Arts precinct and Gallery.

Later this evening we will get festive and dine at the popular Railway Hotel.

Overnight: Castlemaine Colonial Motel (B, D)

Day 3 • Monday 15 November:
CASTLEMAINE – ECHUCA- BENDIGO
This morning after a hearty breakfast in your room we will wander across town to visit Buda House, a classic, beautifully preserved Victoria Goldfields Villa set on 8 acres of tranquil gardens.

We then transfer by coach to the Railway Station for our train trip to Echuca, departing in the mid-morning.

The two-hour trip north to Echuca passes Bendigo, Elmore and Rochester and arrives in time for us to board our Paddlesteamer for a gentle lunch while the steamer rolls down the Murray River from the historic Port of Echuca.

In the afternoon we are back to the station for the afternoon journey to Bendigo. Here we’ll meet our coach and transfer to the elegant and historic Shamrock Hotel, where you have free time before joining together for dinner in the hotel.

Overnight: Shamrock Hotel, Bendigo (B, L, D)

Day 4 • Tuesday 16 November:
BENDIGO
This morning we begin our tour of the city of Bendigo, an iconic gold rush town rich with intriguing history and unique character.

Starting at the Bendigo Tramways Depot and Workshop, we’ll learn about the history, restoration and character of their iconic tram fleet.
Following this we’ll resume our tour of the city on the old tram on a tour that showcases the main sights and attractions of Bendigo, finishing at the Central Deborah Gold Mine.
Here you have the option to enjoy a surface tour.
Alternately, don a hard-hat and grab a miners’ lamp and descend 61m below the surface of Bendigo to walk in the footsteps of past miners on a guided tour.

The rest of the afternoon and evening are free to explore the city at your leisure, with your two-day Talking Tram ticket allowing you to hop on and hop off at will. Sights to explore include Bendigo Pottery, the Chinese Dragon Museum, the stunning Reginal Art Gallery and the old Joss House.

Your evening is free to enjoy the many dining options around the city.

Overnight: Shamrock Hotel, Bendigo (B)

Day 5 • Wednesday 17 November:
BENDIGO – MARYBOROUGH – BALLARAT
This morning you can enjoy a free morning and late check-out.
You can use your Talking Tram pass to explore more of the city or visit, on your own, one or more of the many attractions on offer.

In the early afternoon we re-group and head down the road with our coach once again to the city of Maryborough where we take a break and explore the old railway station, one of Australia’s grandest regional Victorian era buildings.

Here, after a break, we board a local V-Line train for a short cross-country run to the fair city of Ballarat, our base for the next 2 nights. We check into the wonderful Craig’s Royal Hotel in the centre of the city and enjoy some free time to freshen up and relax before heading across to Sovereign Hill for an evening dinner.

After this jolly feast we wander over to the other side of the site to experience their wonderful new sound and light show ‘AURA’ which tells the Wadawurrung creation story with projections on the lake and the legend of the Eureka Battle and subsequent events that have helped to shape our nation.

Gunfights and protests erupt under the night sky, and the gold rush is brought to life as never before.

Overnight: Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat (B, D)

Day 6 • Thursday 18 November:
BALLARAT – DAYLESFORD – BALLARAT
Today we’ll depart Ballarat by coach and travel to Daylesford, a little town in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range.
Here we’ll take a privately chartered trip on the historic DERM Railway.

After some time at leisure to explore and have lunch we’ll board the railway for the 1.5hr scenic round trip.
Afterwards, we’ll continue by coach for the return trip back to Ballarat. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to explore the city or perhaps take an optional side trip to the Eureka Centre, home to the Eureka Flag and museum dedicated to the story of the colonial days on the goldfields.

In the evening we regroup for dinner in the grand dining hall of our historic hotel.

Overnight: Craig’s Royal Hotel or Sovereign Park Motor Inn, Ballarat (B, D)

Day 7 • Friday 19 November:
BALLARAT – HALL’S GAP
After a morning at leisure, we’ll visit the Ballarat Tramway Museum for a look at their impressive collection of vintage trams.
They were once the city’s main form of public transport, and all of them are at least 100 years old.
Enjoy a privately chartered run on the quaint Ballarat 4-wheel tram and learn of the days when they dominated the city.

Back in town you have some free time to enjoy lunch on your own and visit the excellent regional gallery and gold exchange.

In the afternoon we’ll travel by coach to Hall’s Gap via Dunkeld in order to view the scenic southern half of the Grampian’s National Park before settling into our accommodation for the evening.

Dinner is hosted in the restaurant with views over the hills beyond.

Overnight: Comfort Inn Country Plaza, Halls Gap (B, D)

Day 8 • Saturday 20 November:
HALLS GAP – ARARAT – MELBOURNE
This morning take time to smell the roses of the Aussie bush in this dramatic setting before taking a special coach trip deep into the heart of the spectacular Grampians National Park.

Known for its rugged sandstone mountains, dramatic cliffs and plummeting waterfalls, you’ll see why it deserves its reputation as one of Victoria’s greatest natural wonders.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before taking a short cross-country coach ride to Ararat where we’ll board our train bound for Melbourne.

Arrive back in Melbourne in time to relax at the hotel before enjoying a light banquet in the hotel’s restaurant.

Overnight: Batman Hill on Collins, Melbourne (B, L)

Day 9 • Sunday 21 November:
MELBOURNE – BELLARINE – MELBOURNE
This morning after a gentle start to the day we head down to the Docklands to catch a ferry to Queenscliff for our date with the Q Train.

Here we will be met by our hosts for the short transfer to Drysdale, our departure point for the Q Train, Australia’s premier rail restaurant.

The award-winning rolling restaurant travels along the historic Bellarine Railway between Drysdale and Queenscliff in restored carriages from the former Queensland Railways Sunlander train.

The rural and coastal scenery rolls by while you dine on fresh local produce, a fitting finale to our journey across Victoria.

Our day is capped off with a quick train ride back from Geelong to Southern Cross station and our adjacent hotel.

Overnight: Batman Hill on Collins, Melbourne (B, L)

Day 10 • Monday 22 November:
DEPARTURES OR OPTIONAL EXTENSION
This morning your tour concludes after breakfast in the hotel.

OPTIONAL EXTENSION Monday:
After breakfast we head back to Southern Cross Station to take a metro train to Belgrave, the departure point for the legendary Puffing Billy, Australia’s most popular heritage railway situated in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges.

Originally built in the early 1900’s as a low cost 2’6” gauge line to service the local communities and timber industry, it was closed in stages in the 1950’s before being saved by dedicated volunteers and rail fans who strived to restore the line and the rolling Stock.

Since the 1960’s it has been serving a huge role as one of Victoria’s most popular tourist attractions.
Our train departs at 12:30 and you’ll get to experience a steam hauled trip along the length of the character filled narrow gauge line while enjoying a lovely grazing platter lunch in the first-class dining car.

There will be opportunities to visit the new Lakeside Centre and the Menzies Creek museum as part of your excursion ticket.

Return to Melbourne in the late afternoon for an evening at leisure.

Inclusions

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