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Train traveller, well known TV personality and travel company owner, Scott McGregor, has travelled on some of the world’s most inspiring railway tours and led the most exclusive group adventures to numerous exotic destinations over the years.
“Rustic, character-filled, zig-zagging railways of Burma, opulent hotels on wheels in India South Africa and Sri Lanka, steam-hauled heritage trains in some of the most staggeringly scenic parts of the world, dinky little rail-cars in outback Queensland, bullet trains in Japan, cliff-hugging lines in Switzerland and Norway—if it travels on a rail track, I’m there!”, exclaims self-confessed train travel tragic, Scott McGregor. “In my mind, travelling by rail is still the most wonderful way to immerse yourself in the country you’re visiting. It’s romantic, relaxing and about as much fun as you can have!”.
Aa a child of the last days of steam trains in the busy junction town of Orange, NSW; trains heading in all directions offering temptations and dreams of faraway places, left an indelible impression on a young, inquisitive boy and Scott has been riding the rails in one form or another ever since. While Scott’s acting career of 30 years kept him busy starring in numerous TV shows and stage plays and then as an on-air presenter on programs such as Better Homes and Gardens, Room for Improvement and various pay-TV programs, his passion for railway tours was ever-present. “Presenting a series of Railway Adventure travel programs for Channel 7 was a career highlight”, he says with as much enthusiasm now as he had then.
In 2012 Scott decided to combine three of his passions; travel, trains and presenting, and launched Railway Adventures. Not only does he get to expand his own horizons and indulge his love of train travel, he gets to use his extensive hosting experience and love of people to lead other like-minded travellers on escorted train tours around the world. Since then, Railway Adventures has mounted more than 50 tours from Sweden to Sri Lanka, Tasmania to Transylvania, Britain to Burma and Venice to Vietnam, thrilling over 1,000 travellers. New tours are launched regularly, inspired by new trains, new routes and the growing interest in taking a train to some of the world’s most fascinating places. But you don’t have to be a train ‘nut’ to enjoy a Railway Adventures tour – there’s something for everyone!
Just one example of how Scott finds inspiration for a tour can be found in Outback Queensland. “There you find some of Australia’s most eccentric and appealing trains and together with a mail-plane flight over the Gulf and some interesting local coach and boat trips you have the essence of a quintessential Aussie outback adventure. The sleeper train, The Spirit of the Outback, the Savannahlander and the Gulflander (which has been running on the same timetable for more than 125 years!) are all iconic trains that traverse various parts of the wild Outback, Savannah and tropical rainforest landscapes of the vast state of Queensland. Along with some other special treats not available to the ordinary traveller, Railway Adventures passengers get to do it all!.
One of his favourite journey’s is by private train in Sri Lanka. For 2 weeks every year Scott charters the Viceroy Special heritage train to tour the island on a gentle rail cruise with a lucky group of travellers. Staying in luxury resorts and hotels along the way, his special train travels to almost every corner of the scenic island. “Having a private train at your disposal for an adventure around this magic island is a rare treat and a great way to immerse yourself in the scenery and culture of the country.”, he enthuses. “Our Vietnam tour makes use of private carriages attached to regular trains to explore that great country in comfort and in South Africa we use a variety of trains including the luxurious Rovos Rail and the Royal Livingstone steam train to move from one incredible adventure to another”.
Apart from the obvious joy of seeing a country by train, travelling in a small group of like-minded travellers with a dedicated, experienced tour leader and knowledgeable, English-speaking local guides is what really sets Railway Adventures apart. “The camaraderie that comes from both shared purpose and shared experiences on tour is an important aspect of the journey” Scott adds. “We’ve seen many people become life-long friends from the time they shared together along the line. The best feeling in the world is when I welcome these same people on repeat journeys”.
Along with popular destinations like Switzerland, Scandinavia, Outback Queensland and Sri Lanka, a new breed of more unusual destinations has gained great interest. Java, Cuba, Southern Africa, India and the New England region of NSW are just some of the newer adventures on offer. As for Scott’s next escape, it’s most likely some quality time at Ruwenzori Retreat, his own personal train on the Great Dividing Range near Mudgee, Central NSW. Built from a collection of vintage railway carriages it’s now a boutique tourist accommodation, comprising exclusive Orient Express style comfort for up to 13 guests. “When the travels are done, coming back to my own train in the beautiful Mudgee mountains is the most restorative and magical time for this committed rail romantic”, Scott says.