Slow travel is a new trend in travel
Time is a precious commodity today, amidst the breakneck pace of modern life. This is why slow travel has become one of the fastest-growing holiday trends right across the globe. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Australia, where our vast landscapes offer a compelling opportunity to stop and take stock of our surroundings. And what better way to do just that than by embarking on a heritage rail journey back in time? In this spirit, Cruise Express has your ticket to slowing down, fast.
Pioneering this nostalgic mode of travel, Cruise Express transports passengers to the golden era of travel. Unique heritage rail and sail experiences are specially designed to help you switch off and slow down. Like the new ‘Southern Aurora’ tour, which takes you on an eight-day adventure by sea and rail – traversing the country from Sydney to Tasmania, Melbourne and back. Daydream out the window from your private compartment aboard the historic ‘Southern Aurora’ train and disconnect from your devices; or laze on deck aboard Australia’s latest cruise ship, Explorer Dream and let the meditative ocean calm you down.
By offering a unique combination of rail and sail adventures, you are able to reconnect with old world pleasures. Travelling by rail is particularly peerless in its grounded potential. You will embark and alight in the centre of town, journeying through gentle, eye-pleasing scenery along the way. In this sense, rail travel proves both comfortable and relaxing. Which makes it the perfect way to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of your journey – without the highly-strung pressures of modern-day life.
If you’re from Melbourne, we also offer a chance to recharge close to home through our ‘Northern Explorer’ rail and sail tour – taking you along the eastern seaboard to Sydney by rail and back by sea.
Or venture further afield with international steam train journeys like their ‘British Isles Rail & Sail’ experience. Once aboard, you will have the chance to travel through gorgeous countryside, visiting some of the remotest corners of England and Wales. Take in the russet and gold tones of the great moors of West Country, for instance, and seek solace in the rolling hills of Snowdonia National Park. Gaze up at the clouds or across vast plains as you relish the relaxing simplicity of travel – just as it used to be.
Nature often acts as our most powerful reminder that time is incredibly precious, and we can bring you closer to nature at every turn. So set your sights on a slower speed and take the time that you deserve to return to some of the simpler things in life.
* For details on the exclusive rail holidays offered by Cruise Express, click here.
Keeping the Steam Dream Green
The Steam Dreams Rail Co. was the first rail charter to be carbon neutral and we are proud of our commitment to ensure our trains do not damage the environment.
Every time Steam Dreams Rail Co. run a steam charter (around 60 times a year) they make a donation to an organisation called Eco-Act, which invests in carbon reduction projects, to offset the carbon emissions that steam engines produce.
So for example, if trips produced 100 tonnes of carbon emissions through the use of coal, this can be can offset this by purchasing 100 tonnes of carbon credits to reduce the carbon impact to zero (to become carbon neutral).
Eco-Act’s carbon reduction projects usually take place in developing countries, in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry. Each of their projects removes a measurable amount of greenhouse gasses or prevents the emissions in the first place, to reduce the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that contribute to climate change.
Projects are carefully monitored and verified so that each tonne of greenhouse gas reduction can be certified as a carbon offset credit, giving total peace of mind that offsetting is transparent and effective.
In 2019, Steam Dreams are investing in a solar power project in India. This project provides the following positive impacts:
- Provision of jobs in local communities across India for the construction and operation of solar plants;
- Improvement to the livelihoods of families employed by the projects;
- Awareness-raising of the impacts of climate change and how to mitigate them;
- Reducing the reliance on energy generation from fossil assisting communities across India to gain access fuels to renewable and sustainable sources of electricity.
If you are interested in learning more about Steam Dreams Rail Co. UK journeys, please call Cruise Express today on 1300 766 537 or visit our website today.
Although we are relatively young, Australia is full of rich diversity and intriguing history, and our railways are a testimony to that!
Here are some interesting facts about what was happening in Australia in 1907:
- NSW Rugby Football League was formed in Sydney, introducing League to Australia for the first time
- The first telephone call was made between Sydney and Melbourne
- The first Australian exhibition of art by women was held in Melbourne
- Edward VII was on the throne and Alfred Deakin was Prime Minister
- The Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club was formed
- Traveling to London took 5-6 weeks one way
- And, the Victorian Railways A2 Class steam locomotive was introduced (see photo below)!
A few other key dates for Australian railway history buffs are outlined below:
1907 – ‘Yarra’ Parlor Car
Built in 1907 for the Sydney or Melbourne Express, this is one of two cars built for the service where first class passengers paid extra to be seated in the Parlor Car. The car has an observation balcony at one end, a large lounge and two compartments.
Placed in storage in 1937 until the late 60s this car is a rare and spectacular survivor.
1907 – Locomotive A2 986
Entering service in 1907, A2 986 is the sole operable survivor of 125 locomotives in the class. For over forty years, the A2 class was the main express passenger locomotive on the Victorian Railways, hauling intrastate and interstate services.
A2 986, was withdrawn on 2 December 1963. Put on display in a park in Warragul it was rescued in the mid-80s and taken to Newport for restoration – a process that took nearly 30 years!
Today, this former express locomotive is back in top form and ready to take Cruise Express passengers travelling on The Rail Spectacular in July 2019, for a full day of steam hauled fun. On this tour, the A2 986 will become the first A2 class in over 56 years to haul by itself between Ballarat and Melbourne via Bacchus Marsh.
1912 – State Car 4
Built in 1912, State Car 4 was based on the then state of the art wooden E type carriage design. It features an observation balcony at one end, Governors and Ladies bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, Gents and Ladies bathrooms and accommodation for Ladies in Waiting and other support staff.
Ride in a car that has literally been used by royalty!
The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), on the balcony of State Car 4 in 1927.
1956 – Locomotive 4204
Based on an American design, the 42 class entered service in NSW in 1956 as the first ‘streamlined’ locomotives in the state. Hauling well-known passenger trains of the time including the ‘Brisbane Limited’ and ‘Intercapital Daylight’, by the late 70s they had been superseded by more modern and powerful locomotives.
The 4204 was withdrawn in 1983 and entered preservation with Lachlan Valley Railway. One of two remaining in service, this locomotive represents a long-gone era when style mattered and everyone travelled by train.
If you are interested in experiencing any and all of these locomotives and carriages, Cruise Express runs steam and diesel Heritage Rail (& Sail) journeys throughout Australia throughout the year. If you are lucky you will have the opportunity to visit heritage rail yards where you can go behind the scenes and meet the volunteers who dedicate countless hours to keep these remarkable trains going – for our pleasure!
Click here for more information about this tour.
Riverina Tourism Boom
Thanks to ‘foodies’ travelling from afar to the unsuspecting food mecca of Griffith, the Riverina region of NSW has seen significant growth in tourism and revenue over recent years. Many young chefs have even headed or returned home to take Griffith’s food and wine culture to the next level.
Griffith has always been proudly abundant with Italian heritage and culture, showcasing good food and wine.
The focus on the outstanding quality of local produce and high-end restaurants dedicated to getting back to the roots of Italian cuisine are behind this boom, with several hundred visitors flocking to Griffith every day.
Located in Griffith’s old Rural Bank is Zecca Handmade Italian, dedicated to nourishing the community with the highest quality locally sourced produce. Working closely with local farmers and producers, the food must be seasonal and authentic to regional Italy, showcasing the best of what Griffith and the surrounding area has to offer.
We asked Daniel of Zecca what his thoughts are on the increase in ‘Foodie Tourism’ to the region – “People’s thoughts are changing on what’s a tourist attraction, and we’re finding that people are interested in getting back to more authentic experiences. They also now see eating and drinking as a leisure activity.
People have busier lives in general now, so relaxing over good food and wine while on holiday is very appealing. Consumers also now have more interest than before in what they’re eating. There’s more awareness of where the food comes from and the story behind how it’s grown and prepared. People are no longer willing to accept just anything – they want a fresh product and love finding out more about it.”
“Griffith’s multiculturalism and agricultural diversity have offered people from all over the world, especially Italians post-WWII, an opportunity thrive. At the time that many immigrants arrived, the area was prosperous. Even if they arrived in Griffith with nothing, if they had a good work ethic, they could build something. And Griffith is still a great place for new migrants. We are always welcoming new people to our town and they’re able to get ahead. You can see the cultural diversity right throughout the town,” said Daniel D’Aquina of Zecca.
Experience the sheer delight of lunch at Piccolo Farm where four generations of the Piccolo family will welcome you, and it is run by local Chef Luke Piccolo. Luke returned to Griffith after training at restaurants in Sydney and Michelin starred restaurants in Italy. Much of his quality produce is picked daily from his local family farm.
There are many outstanding wineries and cellar doors not to be missed in Griffith, many of them family-run including De Bortoli Wines, Calabria Family Wines and many more.
The main street of Griffith is lined with thriving Italian cafes, restaurants and delis, bakeries, bars and shopping galore. There really is something to do for everyone, every palate is sure to be satisfied!
Since 2012, this month-long series of events runs annually throughout October – beautiful Springtime! Taste Riverina is a collaboration of the region’s finest food producers, showcasing much of the local agricultural produce and food, wine, beer and most importantly, local experiences throughout the Riverina.
Ultimately, the event is designed to inspire visitors to eat healthy fresher food, effectively becoming ambassadors to experience, understand and celebrate locally produced food.
Some of the produce the Riverina is known for includes rice, citrus, lamb, beef, wheat, canola oil, olive oil, grapes, prunes, potatoes and pistachios.
Events throughout the region will include agricultural tours, cooking classes, food treks, dinners, cafe specials, recipe competitions, local festivals, degustation menus, picnics, and live music.
For more information on how you can immerse yourself in this year’s Riverina food and wine extravaganza click here or call one of Cruise Express’ Travel Specialists on 1300 766 537.
The Ins and Outs!
Since November 2016, Cruise Express has successfully run heritage rail journeys throughout the eastern seaboard of Australia. The demand for these trips has increased as passengers experience not only the destination but the joy of travel itself!
Why do our clients love heritage trains journeys?
There is a nostalgic romanticism about heritage trains, a step back in time to a bygone era like no other. Many of our passengers remember trains like the ones Cruise Express charter and in many cases have actually travelled on them in the past. Another thing we hear time and time again is that there is a wonderful camaraderie onboard and people make lasting friendships on these journeys.
A journey on a heritage train is a step back to a time of glamour, buffets and restaurant cars, first-class lounges, railway restaurants as well as ‘fastests’ and ‘firsts’ that helped these national treasures be sealed in our psyche.
Who runs the show?
The organisations that manage the preservation, restoration and conservation of these heritage trains are mostly self-funded and run by a small but dedicated group of volunteers. The organisations heavily rely on revenue from their own tours, private donations and funding from charters.
Many of the volunteers are current or ex-railway workers and possess special skills such as boilermakers, drivers, engineers, carpenters/train outfitters and those with knowledge of rail safety operations. The volunteers are usually entirely unpaid for their time.
Some carriages date back to the middle of last century if not even older, and are often in much the same condition as when they left service decades ago, showing an amount of wear and tear as part of their long history. Many spare parts are no longer manufactured, so when something goes wrong, this is where the dedicated volunteer’s creative abilities come into play.
While 21st-century technology is evolving at a rapid pace, raising awareness and educating the public on the importance of preserving our history is paramount. Additionally, passing these skill sets on to younger generations is critical for the survival of the heritage train industry, and it can only be done with continued interest and funding.
What to expect
Heritage Rail Journeys are often confused to be part of current Government Railway operations or public transport. In fact, they are privately owned and operated vintage trains, meaning discounts and benefits often offered on public transport simply don’t apply.
Another misconception is that heritage trains are able to run and stop almost wherever – which is far from the case. Each train will have carefully allocated stops working around all other trains on the network including both passengers, freight and trackwork.
One charming aspect many don’t expect is that most rail motors and some carriages are from an era before air-conditioning became commonplace. This means the windows can open, providing a unique connection between the traveller and their surroundings.
For those that have mobility issues, it is important to keep in mind that heritage trains were designed and built long before mobility concerns were factored. Doorways and corridors are not wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or walking frames. Onboard lavatories and bathrooms are also small.
On a final note, please be super nice to all of the men and women working aboard your heritage rail journey. The volunteers do more work behind the scenes than you can possibly imagine, giving up their own time, and often their own money.
The trains truly are rare survivors of a long lost era, and we are lucky to have them.
To find out more about several of our magnificent heritage rail journeys, please visit our rail and sail page or call our Travel Specialists on 1300 766 537.
We look forward to welcoming you onboard!