“We like to slow things down and to really take things in,” said Simon Mitchell and Danielle Smith from Vintage Rail Journeys. “There’s something romantic about a train journey that traverses through the countryside, taking in the scenery and immersing yourself in the sights, the sounds of the people you meet along the way.”

In 2019, the Canberra couple transformed the glorious Southern Aurora express passenger train into the Aurora Australis with the addition of modern luxuries but decided to keep the train’s beautiful mid-century vintage features.

“We have a lot of repeat clients that travel with us and, most of the time, with the people they met on the previous journey. There is such a warm and convivial atmosphere on the train,” said the couple.

“The beauty about our journeys is that we showcase some of the best regions in the state, from the coast to the western regions of New South Wales,” they added.

Vintage Rail Journeys offers three distinct journeys which also include off-train experiences. “We have great relationships with the communities we visit. On our Golden West Rail Tour, we visit regions in the Central West including a tiny town called Kandos. We stop there for an evening and on our first trip, we had a party at the community hall. The entire town turned up.

“That’s the charm of our rail journeys … And because we don’t travel by night, guests get to see the stars in these amazing places.”

Another drawcard of a Vintage Rail Journey is the food and wine on offer. They said: “Our chef, Scotty, is from Orange, so he has an intimate knowledge of the produce. One of the favourite dishes is the lamb and Scotty even harvests his own strawberries.” 

The food and wine on offer is sensational

“But the food experiences extend off the train. We spend some time in Griffith and in the morning, we leave the train and head to the farm of local chef Luke Piccolo from Limone Dining [for] a fabulous breakfast.”

And keeping up with the vintage theme, a 1950s bus also accompanies the train, meeting the locomotive in each place and transporting passengers into town.

“It’s such a lovely experience and we have an option of Roomette (solo) Cabins and Twinette Cabins (upper and lower bunk beds). It doesn’t matter if you’re not travelling with a partner. Our guests make great life-long friends and have a memorable trip.”

The 1950s bus

2022 itineraries

North Coast Rail Tour

This five day journey takes you along the scenic North Coast Line. You’ll enjoy a Dolphin watch lunch cruise on the Hastings River, the Byron Bay hinterland rainforest, uncrowded surf beaches of the Macleay Valley Coast and the historic towns of Maitland/Morpeth before returning to Sydney.

Price: from $4250 per person

2022 dates: June 19-23 and October 23-27

Riverina Rail Tour

Tour the heart of Australia’s food bowl stopping at regional attractions and towns – such as Temora, Coolamon, Junee and Griffith – on this four-night Riverina trip.

Price: from $4250 per person

2022 dates: February 27 to March 3, March 27-31, August 28 to September 1, September 25-29

Golden West Rail Tour

This four-night journey highlights some of our most breathtaking scenery, including the sandstone-cliffs lining the Hawkesbury River, the stunning coast to Newcastle and the wide expanse of the Central West.

Price: from $4250 per person

2022 dates: February 13-17, March 13-17, April 10-14, September 11-15, October 9-13, November 6-10

Visit: vintagerailjourneys.com.au

The train goes by beneath the stars

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Comments 4

  1. Roderick Smith says:

    There is something romantic about rail journeys, but real ones, not synthetic ones at cruise-ship styles and prices. I am more interested in places, engineering, scenery, history and people when travelling. Hence, I have now traversed over 50% of the world’s passenger railways, in over 100 countries. Many of those opportunities have vanished, even before covid19. One important aspect: a real traveller meets real people, and can gain a real insight into the country, usually quite opposite to the view of national politics which makes newspaper headlines.
    For long-distance adventures, head to China, Russia, India, Canada or USA.
    For medium-distance adventures, add Europe, South Africa and south-east Asia.
    I have also been on adventures which are described as black-belt by writers, and which I could recommend only to specialists.
    The writer paid his own way on all travel.

    • Jim says:

      Not everyone is lucky enough to get those experiences, or have the time or resources to pursue.

      While I agree with your broad point around these sorts of trips, each to their own. For some it will be a great opportunity they may not have otherwise.

  2. John says:

    Done a few trains here and overseas. Just love them. In many cases they can be cheaper, easier and more comfortable than plane flights.

    My weakness is collecting HO scale working models of those I’ve been on! Most cases they cost more than the rail trip! LOL.

  3. Phil Bramley says:

    Yes but not with those prices!

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