Golden West Rail Tour
An exceptional rail journey that uncovers the rich history of regional New South Wales all the while passing through breathtaking scenery aboard the beautifully restored Aurora Australis by Vintage Rail Journeys.
Cruise the Hawkesbury River and stroll around Hunter Valley wineries. Explore the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains and fall in love with picture perfect villages in the beautiful Southern Highlands.
Stroll through stunning wineries, roam spectacular gardens and be ready to immerse yourself into the treasures of this fascinating ‘Golden West’ region.
The itinerary is designed so that we only travel during daylight hours. We don’t want you to miss any of the spectacular scenery.
Golden West Rail Tour Departures & Packages
The iconic Southern Aurora began traversing the tracks between Sydney and Melbourne in 1962 and quickly became a roaring success being the first train on the revamped passenger line to offer a luxury overnight service with First Class sleeping carriages. This meant it was no longer necessary to change trains at the border station of Albury from Victorian broad-gauge to NSW standard-gauge trains for both passengers and freight and provided daily departures in each direction.
There continued to be a high demand for berths until late in 1964 when jet aircraft were introduced between Melbourne and Sydney, therefore enticing many passengers to be lured by the excitement and speed of a new way to travel by plane. The progressive decline in demand continued throughout the 1970’s until 1986 when the Southern Aurora amalgamated with the then Spirit of Progress to form both the Melbourne Express and Sydney Express.
These services remained until 1993 when it was then replaced by the XPT. Rail preservation groups kept most of the Southern Aurora carriages until 2017 when they were purchased by Vintage Rail Journeys and ready for a complete restoration and subsequent return to service as the Aurora Australis.
The Aurora Australis by Vintage Rail Journeys boasts both Roomette (single use) and Twinette Cabins (2 to a cabin) that convert from day sitting lounge chairs to a night time bedding configuration with the Twinettes offering a lower and upper bunk for sleeping arrangements. Roomettes are located in the single compartment carriage offering a panoramic window to view all of the beautiful passing scenery plus a handy vanity to freshen up.
Shared ensuite and shower facilities are located at the end of each carriage and are serviced after every use. Twinettes feature seating for up to three people and a private ensuite with a shower, toilet and vanity with uplifting Kudos Spa amenities. Both cabin types are serviced daily with an evening turn down service. The vintage rail stops at night for added comfort while sleeping and you travel on rail lines not used for passenger service.
Further features include air conditioning, USB adapter power outlets, drinking water in every cabin, shelving and hanging closet, all bedding, a 30kg per person luggage allowance and access to a convenient galley in each carriage for self-service morning and afternoon tea and homemade biscuits.
Lounge and Dining
The Aurora Australis by Vintage Rail Journeys offers an all-inclusive on board two-course dining experience with alcoholic beverages available at an additional cost to purchase for the tour duration. The Dining restaurant features a regionally inspired menu freshly prepared by on board chefs and in support of local producers where possible.
Each table is set as seating for four* with consideration given to your preferred seating time and seating with travel companions. The Vintage Rail Journeys Lounge Car has a specially developed bar menu for each tour and is perfect for a pre or post dinner drink and chat with your fellow travellers or perhaps to make lifelong friends.
The resident wine expert behind the bar can offer formal or informal wine tastings and help make your experience the best it can be. You can be involved in the enjoyable on board entertainment in the form of a quiz or scheduled experiences or perhaps just enjoy a book as the rugged countryside scenes go by.
On board the vintage rail it’s the little things that make this experience even better. A daily newsletter outlining the upcoming day’s events is a welcome added extra including visiting destination facts and information, handy reminders, advice and tips plus a convenient map (if applicable).
Each itinerary also gives you unique daily encounters during the exclusive Off-Train Experiences that give such a fantastic insight into the destination and its history with highlights including the Blue Mountain Villages, a ‘Riverboat Postman’ cruise on the Hawkesbury River, historic Goulburn and Emeri De Bortoli’s Private Garden.
A. Our tours require a reasonable level of fitness and a good level of mobility. Heritage trains are not designed to accommodate wheelchair bound or walker reliant passengers.
If booking a Twinette room, one member of your party will need to be able to climb a ladder up to and down from the top bunk.
You will need to be able to embark and disembark trains, coaches and other methods of transportation without assistance, handle your own luggage, walk moderate distances, stand comfortably and climb steps and stairs.
A. Heritage trains are not designed to accommodate wheelchair bound or walker reliant passengers as the corridors are very narrow with tight turns and heavy inter carriage connecting doors. A walking stick, if for stability, can be brought on-board and kept in the cabin.
A. Yes. Please discuss this with your Guest Attendant when you board the train.
A. Yes. There are up to two Roomette Carriages on board the train each with three medical waste bins (in each bathroom and separate toilet). Twinette room guests are also asked to use these for their medical waste as the Twinette ensuites are too small for containers.
A. Yes. There are up to two Roomette Carriages on board the train each with three sanitary waste bins (in each bathroom and separate toilet). Please use these bins for sanitary pads, tampons and incontinence products. Twinette room guests are also asked to use these for their sanitary waste as the Twinette ensuites are too small for containers.
A. There is limited room in our cabins for luggage and we suggest you bring airplane ‘carry on’ size luggage and a garment bag. As a guide, the space for luggage in the Twinette cabins is 98cm length x 24cm width x 59cm height. In the Roomette cabins the luggage can be placed on the luggage racks above your footrest. Slim or soft luggage can be stowed under your seat.
A. No. We provide most of your toiletry needs on the train including shampoo, conditioner, body wash/soap and moisturiser, so you don’t have to pack your own unless you want to. Don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste though, as well as any medications you might need!
A. Yes. Our on-board chef can cater to any dietary requirement. Please provide your requirements when booking. If things change over time feel free to let us know before you board. You can also let your Guest Attendant know of any changes when you board the train.
A. Yes. Please advise us when you book and if there are forward facing rooms remaining we can accommodate this. Please note, there are certain times during the trip that the train turns direction and you will be facing in the opposite direction for a small amount of time. Please feel free to spend this time in the Lounge Car.
A. No. The Train will generally not be stabling at Railway Stations. Rather we stable on sidings either in goods yards at main stations or in yards some way from a town centre. This is to ensure the safety of our guests. Where there is an opportunity to disembark the train at night, Guest Attendants will speak with you about this on-board. Please note, dinners are served on board and we have an excellent wine menu!
A. No. The Aurora Australis is strictly no smoking. This includes between the carriages and in the toilets. Guest Attendants will advise where and when guests can smoke when we arrive at Railway Stations.
A. The dress code on board the Aurora Australis is smart casual attire - we don’t require that you dress for dinner! We also advise that you to bring a pair of comfy shoes for your off-train experiences.
A. Yes. There is free wifi on-board the Aurora Australis.
A. Yes. There is at least one 240 volt outlet in each room. This can be used for CPAP machines.
A. We have contactless payment options (debit or credit) for payment of alcoholic drinks and merchandise on board the Aurora Australis. Due to Covid-19 we are no longer able to offer a cash payment option.
A. Yes. Vintage Rail Journeys is a Covid Safe business. Please see our website for our Covid Safe Protocols.
A. Yes. We do not have a No Child Policy as such, however, the tour has been developed for an older demographic and there are no children’s discounts. It is up to the guest to make a decision on whether it is something that they would like their children to do. There are no special menus nor children friendly off-train experiences.
A. No. There is not enough room to fit a mattress between the bed and the en-suite wall. It is also a major safety risk to have the floor covered like that during the night. The doors open inwardly so if we had to evacuate, it would be very difficult to get guests out of your cabin safely as the door to the cabin would be blocked.