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.
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.