Golden West Rail Tour

All Aboard! Join us on a wonderful rail adventure of the “Golden West” of NSW. This carefully developed tour takes you down a private railway, along goods only railway lines and railway branches that are normally closed, all whilst showcasing the best of regional NSW. Relive the heyday of long-distance travel with restored ex-Southern Aurora sleeping carriages on a vintage train called the “Aurora Australis”. Savour local produce and wines, enjoy sightseeing and visit some spectacular gardens, view delightful scenery and relax aboard. A coach will also be accompanying the train to take you on excursions to the many off-train attractions. This tour takes is from the sandstone cliffs on the Hawkesbury River, the water’s edge of Brisbane, the farming regions of the Central West and the Jurassic rainforests of the Blue Mountains.  

Tuesday 8 September – Monday 14 September 2020 (7 Days)

Day 1    Tuesday 8 September 2020
Home Cities to Sydney
This afternoon you are transferred to Auckland International Airport for your flight to Sydney. Assistance at check-in will be available to you, but your flight will be unescorted. On arrival in Sydney, you will be met by a company representative and transferred to your overnight accommodation.
Overnight: Novotel Sydney Central

Day 2 – Wednesday 9 September 2020
Hawkesbury River – Riverboat Postman (BLD)
“The right train of thought can take you to a better station in life” and your Golden West adventure starts at Sydney’s Central Station. Once onboard, you can choose to sit in the lounge or dining cars, or your private cabin while we travel to the spectacular Hawkesbury River. We depart the train to join Australia’s’ last Riverboat Postman and cruise the beautiful Hawkesbury. Since 1910 the Hawkesbury “Postman” has been providing an essential service to river communities, delivering mail and supplies along the longest river on Australia’s East Coast. Sit back, relax, enjoy lunch and absorb the wonderful scenery and commentary as it travels from settlement to settlement. The local skippers will keep you entertained with the stories of the river as you cruise in comfort up this spectacular waterway. Be assured that at least 95% of what they say is true. After our cruise, we rejoin the train and travel right by the water at Mullet Creek and alongside Brisbane Water. We skirt around Newcastle and on to historic Maitland in the beautiful Hunter Valley. We will enjoy our first night on board with the train will be stabled for the night at Neath Station on the private South Maitland Railway – they don’t have any passengers on this line!
Overnight: Train or Motel

Day 3 – Thursday 10 September 2020
Hunter Valley Gardens – Wineries – Railway History (BD)
Today we will enjoy the best that the Hunter Valley region has to offer using our private Aurora Explorer shuttle bus. Our first stop is the spectacular Hunter Valley Gardens featuring 10 amazingly themed gardens with influences from all over the world. Included in the Aurora Explorer shuttle bus circuit will be cellar door wine tastings at selected wine makers. Your explorer circuit will also include the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village with its unique collection of boutique retailers promoting the best local produce, artistic talent, contemporary cafe dining and cellar door wine tasting. Lunch today is at your own choice and cost. Your Aurora Explorer buses will return you to Neath Station throughout the afternoon in preparation for a 3pm departure. We will travel the remainder of the Hunter Valley, and on through Ardglen Tunnel to Werris Creek. We will visit the Australian Rail Monument and Railway Journeys Museum. Dinner will be served on-board the train at Werris Creek Station, where we will be stabled for the night.
Overnight: Train or Motel

Day 4 – Friday 11 September 2020
Orange (BLD)
Enjoy breakfast onboard the train travelling along the freight-only line from Werris Creek, arriving at Binnaway Junction by mid-morning. At Binnaway Junction, you will have the opportunity to quickly stretch your legs while the train changes direction. We will reboard our train and enjoy lunch as we make our way to beautiful Orange, a historic town well-known for its gourmet local produce. On arrival mid-afternoon you have the chance to wander – go for a short walk to ‘Ferment- The Orange Wine Centre’ or visit the beautiful Cook Park, 4.5 hectares of parkland in the heart of Orange. This is a 145-year-old, traditional Victorian style park which embodies the seasonal colours of Orange and includes Blowes Conservatory where hundreds of begonias bloom. This National Trust area is also home to an aviary featuring predominately native birdlife and the Cook Park Guidry, a beautiful handcraft centre. Dinner will be served on-board the train at Orange Station, where we will be stabled for the night.
Overnight: Train or Motel

Day 5 – Saturday 12 September 2020
Bathurst  – Mayfield Gardens – Bush Dance (BD)
Enjoy breakfast on board as we head to Bathurst, Australia’s oldest inland settlement. In Bathurst, we will board buses to transfer to Mayfield Gardens, one of the world’s largest privately-owned cool climate gardens. The scale of the gardens is truly breathtaking and we will be able to access 37 acres of natural and manmade beauty – enjoy the changing leaves, the incredible landscaping as well as numerous follies and features that have been built including the stunning 9 acres Water Garden, the Bronze Tree fountain, the Grotto and much more. Lunch today is at your own choice and cost. Our bus will return us to Bathurst, where we can visit the National Motor Racing Museum at Mt Panorama or the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum. We will then have the rare opportunity to ride the closed Gwabegar line from Wallerawang, up to the Capertee Valley to Kandos, the town famous for its cement works. We will take a short walk through town for an after-hours visit to the Kandos Museum, and learn more about the fascinating industrial history of this town. We will then enjoy a true Aussie dinner at the Kandos Hall, followed by a bush dance! We will stay on the train for the night in the tranquillity of Kandos.
Overnight: Train or Motel

Day 6 – Sunday 13 September 2020
Blue Mountains – Hop-on / Hop-off Bus. Worship (B)
Enjoy breakfast as we travel back down the stunning Gwabegar line and cross the Great Dividing Range to Wallerawang. We journey on through Lithgow and through the 10 tunnels that replaced the Lithgow Zig-Zag, then cross the Darling Causeway on the way to Mount Victoria. Mount Victoria is the westernmost village in the Blue Mountains and is home to the highest point in the mountains – One Tree Hill – the original name of Mount Victoria. We stop in this small village to depart the train and board your Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, which gives you access to the ‘Hop-on, Hop-Off’ service to explore the vibrant Blue Mountains Villages of Katoomba and Leura in your own time. So many things you can choose to do – walk out to the edge at Echo Point to see the famous Three Sisters and the majestic Jamison Valley, take a ride into the valley with a  ‘Scenic World‘ ride (optional extra – tickets may be bought on the train) or take a short bushwalk along cliffs and visit waterfalls. Check out the vibrant villages, visit Katoomba Cultural Centre, Everglades Historic House and Gardens or take a trip down memory lane at Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum. Lunch today is at your own choice and cost. In the afternoon you will be transferred back to Sydney to your overnight accommodation.
Overnight: Novotel Sydney Central

Day 7 – Monday 14 September 2020
Sydney to Home Cities (B)
After breakfast this morning, you are transferred to Sydney International Airport for your unescorted flight to Auckland. A company representative will be available to assist you with check-in. On arrival in Auckland, you will be transferred home.
About the train
The ‘Aurora Australis’ combines iconic rail travel experiences of Australia’s past and innovative relaxed rail-based touring. The Aurora Australis utilizes the beautifully restored sleeping carriages from the Southern Aurora, the Interstate train that ran overnight from Sydney to Melbourne from the 1960s until the 1980s. Enjoy delicious meals in the Dining Car and catch up with both new friends and old in the Lounge Car. Relax overnight on our “hotel on wheels” staying in the comfortable sleeping carriages while we are stabled for the night. Onboard, accommodation is in “roomettes” – Single with WC and share bathroom OR Twin Share (twinette) with ensuite bathroom.
Please be aware that Twin-share has an upper bunk bed with an access ladder.
Motel accommodation available for those who require a twin share but are unable to manage the double-deck bunks (coach transfers provided each night). Please advise at time of booking if you would like the motel accommodation.

NOTE – Train itinerary and train make up may be subject to change due to circumstances beyond the control of the company operating the Aurora Australis.