Australian Owned and Operated
Vintage Rail Journeys conducts rail tours using our own private fleet of ex-Southern Aurora Carriages, periodically augmented by carriages maintained and operated by Transport Heritage NSW.
Your booking on our tours is making an immediate and tangible difference to the preservation of these iconic Australian carriages, for future generations. This page gives an overview of the history of the purchase and restoration of the train by private preservationists, Vintage Rail Journeys.
Originally the Southern Aurora
Our fleet of carriages were initially designed for the Southern Aurora overnight express passenger service between Australia’s two largest cities – Sydney and Melbourne. The darling of Australian travel at the time, the Southern Aurora ran from 16th April 1962 to 2nd August 1986. First Class throughout, including specialty dining facilities, the Southern Aurora offered sleeper accommodation for comfortable travel.
The 34 stainless steel carriages featured fluted sides and consisted of roomette and twin sleepers, lounge and dining cars. A motor rail service was introduced in 1973 for passengers wanting to travel with their vehicles.
Purchase of the train
Following the great carriage auction of 1994, the Southern Aurora’s historic carriages were passed to the Australian Railway Historical Society (ACT) and Transport Heritage NSW (New South Wales Rail Museum) who maintained them in an operational condition.
Since 2017, 16 of these carriages have been acquired by Simon Mitchell & Danielle Smith of NSWGR Holdings Pty Ltd, providing the potential for a complete set of privately owned ex-Southern Aurora Carriages.
Simon & Danielle have undertaken the restoration of the first 4 twinette carriages (NAM 2330, 2341, 2342 & 2374) at Lithgow Railway Workshops under the direction and care of Tim Elderton.
In 2019, restoration of twinette NAM 2335, roomette carriages LAN 2348 & 2372 and luggage van MHN 2366 commenced at the Goulburn Locomotive Roundhouse in association with Ken Ainsworth of K&H Ainsworth Engineering Pty Ltd, Goulburn & CFCLA (now Rail First), Goulburn.
In early 2021, dining carriage RMS 2360 was re-activated at short notice, with engineering support from Transport Heritage NSW, Thirlmere.
PHN 2381 returned to service in January 2022, and NAM 2367 returned to service in August 2022, with the support of Ken Ainsworth of K&H Ainsworth Engineering Pty Ltd, Goulburn.
Roomette Sleepers LAN 2325 & LAN 2344 are currently located at Goulburn Locomotive Roundhouse, Goulburn.
Our final 3 carriages, twinette sleeper OAP 2331 and roomette sleepers LAN 2323 & 2326 remain at the Canberra Railway Museum, Kingston, with either LAN 2323 or LAN 2326 the next to be restored, including conversion to a Lounge Carriage.
Until these carriages are restored a Lounge Carriage will likely be hired from Transport Heritage NSW.
Please join us on tour to continue the legacy of the Southern Aurora!