When Simon came home one day and casually mentioned to his partner of ten years that he bought a train, he got the raise of the eyebrows that he expected from Danielle. After all, she knew her partner had been a keen railway modeller for years. When he mentioned that the scale of the train was actually 12” to the foot, he finally got the reaction he was looking for! It turns out that Simon, a retired accountant, had purchased seven ex-Southern Aurora sleeping carriages from the liquidators of the Australian Railway Historical Society (ACT).
Simon and Danielle chat about how Vintage Rail Journeys began with the purchase of seven ex-Southern Aurora carriages, all in various conditions and how they didn’t want to see these iconic carriages sitting unused in a rail yard. They knew that they needed to have considerable work done on them even if they didn’t quite know what we were going to do with them.
Summary of the highlights
“Our local railway museum unfortunately went into receivership a few years ago and they had a whole load of ex southern Aurora carriages and they weren’t going to use them anytime soon as they were quite expensive to run and a big undertaking. So we thought we’d take it on! If they didn’t get preserved by us then there was a real risk that they were going to be turned into farmsheds.”
Rail Tour Operators
“We thought that the best way to preserve the carriages was to design some really good tours of regional NSW and to actually run trains using these sleeping carriages. The biggest thing we want is for our guests to have a really great time and be connected to the communities and producers in regional NSW.”
Barry’s Story retold by Simon
“Barry said that this was the first holiday that he’s really had because while he had done hundreds of trips around Australia towing the caravan that was getting to a point where it’s quite draining for him because of the responsibility of keeping the show on the road. His comment was that he done a lot of trips, but this was his first holiday. We were in charge and he was able to just go with the flow.” All of our tours escorted so there’s always someone around to let you know what we’re doing tomorrow or to get you on and off the coaches at off-train experiences. “Barry said was that this was an opportunity to see the countryside and he didn’t tolerate going to sea, so cruising wasn’t something for him because he got motion sickness. Our train was an opportunity where he could actually sit there and look out the window, he could doze off if he wanted to or he could go stretch his legs in the lounge car and have a drink with other people. And then he could go to the dining car and have a meal there.” We think that it is all just so easy because you unpack your belongings into your compartment and that is you done for the next five days!
Our guest attendants are like a butler service in each carriage and many of them come from a long haul flying background. “Our guests feel like they’re in business class for the five days and really our big focus is the connection between our crew and our guests.” We also have a chef on board, who is from the country and also loves having that connection with people so he gets to meet the guests and talk to them about their special requirements. We also have our own crew for each tour, so it’s not only an adventure for the guests and something special for them but it’s very special for the crew as well. “This is something that our crew don’t do all day, every day so it’s not a grind – it is a yay! I get to go on the train, I get to meet these lovely guests and it’s an adventure for the crew as much as it is for the guests.”