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.
Barbara lives in the Blue Mountains and has a solid background in travel, tourism and hospitality. She has worked in wholesale and retail travel, then as an events coordinator in a 5-star hotel, before living and working in Japan for 2 years as a conversational English teacher with her husband Duncan. Once back in Australia, she managed of group of spa cabins and wedding venue, and for the next 10 years owned and managed a local Teahouse and Australian Gallery. Barbara has been part of the Railway Adventures tour leader team since April 2021 and loves being part of a like-minded group that supports a well-planned and inspirational itinerary, creating lifelong memories with enthusiastic passengers. She always enjoys having the opportunity of travelling and meeting new people, and has a real understanding of traveller’s expectations and needs. She’s also a member of Oral History NSW and her latest venture is recording individual life stories.