Beyond Melbourne: By Train - Regional

After a number of decades in the doldrums with passenger numbers in decline, region rail travel has seen a resurgence in recent years. Not only are people re-discovering some great regional destinations that can be visited easily in a single day, modern trains can take you there quickly and hassle free in airconditioned comfort, often for less than the cost of fuel to drive there and back.

Bicycles can be carried free on V/Line trains, if there is space available, so if you would rather tour your destination on two wheels rather than on foot, that is possible. Alternatively, at places like Bendigo, you can actually hire a bike for a day or half day. All V/Line trains leave from Southern Cross Station in Spencer Street, City. Timetables and tickets are available from the V/Line counter at the station.

An ideal destination for a day trip by train, Geelong is just an hour away from Melbourne by train. The major inner city attractions are all just a short walk from the railway station and the Visitors Centre at the National Wool Museum has information on attractions, city walks etc. Day trip activities: Corio Bay walks, picnics, swimming; National Wool Museum; Arts and Culture Walking Trail; Botanical Gardens.

An attractive former gold mining centre, Bendigo is a pleasant 2 hr 15 min rail journey from Melbourne. Your return train ticket can be used for free travel all day on Bengigo's buses if you can't find enough around the city centre to keep you occupied. Day trip activities: heritage buildings walk; historic tram ride; Chinese Joss House; Golden Dragon Museum; Central Deborah Gold Mine.

The town of Seymour has some attractive historic buildings and structures as well as galleries and antiques shops. There are a number of riverside parks, perfect for picnics, fishing or boating. Seymour is 1 hr 15 min by train from Melbourne. Day trip activities: heritage buildings walk; galleries and antique shops; riverside walks; river activities (river cruises, boat hire, water skiing and rafting); heritage train rides (seasonal).

An early morning start is advised (catch the 7.19am train on weekdays) as there is a 3 hr 20 min train journey (return train leaves at 5.18pm). Warranmbool is a coastal city at the end of the Great Ocean Road, so the coastline and beach are major attractions and the reason many come here. Many visitors by train take the 2.30pm bus to Port Fairy (weekdays only), then catch the train back to Melbourne from there. Personalised small group tours covering the history and highlights of Warrnambool are offered by Southwest Explorer Personalised tours but must be booked in advance. Ph. 0447 738 527 Day trip activities: beach activities; cafes, Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and heritage village; town walk.

Take a 1 hr 20 min train ride through regional victoria to Ballarat, one of the iconic boom towns of ther famous Victorian goldrush of the 1850s. There is lots to do in and around Ballarat to make your trip an overnight one, or to come back a second time. On weekends, when you arrive by train you are greeted by some lovely ladies from the Visitor Information Centre who are armed with whatever info. you need to make vour visit a pleasurable one. There is a free music concert at the Ballarat Art Gallery every Sunday afternoon. Day trip activities: Sovereign Hill historic park; Eureka Centre; Gold Museum; Art Gallery; heritage buildings walk; Lake Wendourie - walks, heritage tram ride, Botanical Gardens.

Latrobe Valley
The Latrobe Valley is nestled between the Strzelecki Ranges and the Great Dividing Range in Victoria. Consisting of several cities, towns and farming communities, it is known for its abundant resources of brown coal, which are mined and fed to the local power stations that produce electricity for the entire state of Victoria. The region also has extensive dairy farms, cattle farms and potato farms, most notably the local Thorpdale region that exports potatoes to the entire nation of Australia and overseas. Join a Powerworks tour of working brown coal mines and power stations to gain an understanding of the sheer size and scale of mining. All equipment is on full display while you walk through an operating power station.

Castlemaine and Maldon
Enjoy a great day out in the historic Victorian goldfields towns of Castlemaine and Maldon. On Wednesdays, Sundays and public holidays, you can take the normal V/Line train from Melbourne to Castlemaine, connecting there with a vintage steam train to Maldon at 11.45am. After two hours enjoying a leisurely lunch in one of the cafes or pubs and exploring the little goldfields town, catch the steam train back to Castlemaine, returning tl Melbourne on a mainline train after exploring Castlemaine.

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