A spring time tour of Manningham

Recently the team at One Hour Out were invited to explore Manningham in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. What we found was an incredibly diverse mix of residential suburbs and verdant riverside parklands.

The region includes some of Victoria’s most engaging art experiences and the eclectic mix of cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping is second to none. The northern edge of Manningham is marked by the Yarra River that winds its way down from the Yarra Valley towards the city, with endless walking trails, picnic locations and playgrounds.

Come and join us as we explore this outstanding region.

Your Guide to the Goulburn River and Ranges

The Goulburn River might not have the PR team of the mighty Murray but as Victoria’s longest river it has long been a part of peoples’ daily lives. It is the region’s lifeline of agriculture, a cultural and historic touchstone as well as a magnet for outdoor activities.

Your road trip offers so many waterways to choose from, including one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, enchanting waterfalls and secluded fishing spots. No matter the season, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking scenery, pretty little towns and down to earth hospitality as you wind your way through this special part of central Victoria – all within a short, easy drive out of Melbourne.

Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

Tickets are now on sale for Sovereign Hill’s famous Winter Wonderlights

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Everyone loves a white Christmas, but we Aussies rarely get to experience it the way our European friends do. Unless you head to Ballarat from June 24.

Victoria’s most popular living museum, Sovereign Hill, is once again hosting its Winter Wonderlights Festival: a three-week bright, white Christmas-themed extravaganza.

Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, it’s the perfect spot to take the family for the school holidays – and don that daggy Christmas sweater you’ve been saving.

Christmas in July

Imagine cosying up by the fire, drinking a mug of hot chocolate while fairy lights twinkle nearby. Sound good?
Now add a brilliant light show illuminating a century’s-old Gold Rush museum into the picture.
You’re starting to get an image of Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlight Festival.

Sovereign Hill

From 24 June to 16 July, the Sovereign Hill streetscape will transform into a snow and light-filled space, sure to dazzle visitors from young to old. There’s a bustling schedule of family-friendly daytime and night-time activities, opportunities to meet Saint Nicholas himself, and enough Christmas-themed treats to last the year.

With so much on offer, we thought we’d give you our pick of the activities. So you can worry less about scheduling – and focus more on merrymaking.

Bright lights, little city

We must begin with the hero of the festival: the light show!

Each night after sundown (around 5.30 pm), Sovereign Hill’s Main Street transforms into a rainbow of light and imagery. Designed in tandem with Electric Canvas – the team behind much of Melbourne’s White Night – these displays are nothing short of magical.

Candy canes twinkle above an antique sign. Neon bows loop and unloop on a tin veranda. Paired with the Christmas carols echoing through the street and faux snow pluming into the air, it’s a feast for all the senses.

The projections finish at 7 pm and can be very busy. So we recommend starting at the top of the hill and meandering through Main Street towards the exit rather than away. You’ll dodge the big crowds and enjoy a better view.

Winter Wonderlights

Warm up your winter with these old-school activities

A regular day pass will buy you all day and night access to the museum. That means you can enjoy plenty of daytime activities and the light show for one affordable price.

Famous for its Gold Rush character, Sovereign Hill has ample activities for the whole family. From candle-making and horse and cart rides to gold panning and lolly eating – you could easily spend three days at the museum and still have more to see.

If you’re travelling with children, you can’t miss the gold panning. We recommend bringing gumboots because things can get wet as you sift through the mud for the treasures.

Once you’ve exhausted the pan, stop by the lolly shop, Brown’s Confectionary, to taste its famous boiled raspberry drops. Handmade to a traditional recipe, these treats are especially sweet in winter.

Continue the shopping spirit with a stroll through the European-inspired Christmas Market. Grown-ups looking to imbibe can warm up with a mulled wine. And there’s gingerbread for the little ones.

Costumed characters walk around throughout all areas, performing pantomimes and interacting with guests. You can find Saint Nicholas and ask for a photograph if you’re lucky. These actors are the final flourish of a very immersive experience.

You can also head to the Victoria Theatre on-site to watch a scripted theatre performance, which we hear is Christmas themed too. A carefully created replica of the eponymous 1850s Ballarat theatre, the space and the stories told there transport viewers to a bygone era.

Winter Wonderlights

Our tips for a smooth stay

The Winter Wonderlight Festival is extremely popular, with tickets selling out quickly. So your best move is to plan your trip and book early.

Here are our top tips to ensure your visit is fun and friction-free.

  1. Book early: We can’t say it enough. Tickets are available now via the Sovereign Hill website. A wide range of access is available, from single to family passes.
  2. Rug up: It’s no secret that Victoria’s Central Highlands get cold. The days in Ballarat average 10 degrees, so be prepared for even chillier nights.
  3. Make a weekend of it: Because the light show is only visible at night, it’s a good idea to book an overnight – or weekend – stay. There are plenty of accommodation options in nearby Ballarat. And if you want to continue the historical theme, BIG4 just opened a holiday park next to Kryal Castle.
  4. Reserve a table: The restaurants inside Sovereign Hill tend to fill up early. So if you’re looking to eat on-site, call or pop in ahead of time to book your seats.
  5. BYO marshmallows: There are places to roast them, but sadly no places to buy them. You will be the envy of everyone there.

THE DETAILS
WHAT:
Winter Wonderlight Festival
WHERE:
Sovereign Hill Museum, Bradshaw St, Golden Point
WHEN:
24 June – 14 July 2023
MORE INFO:
Book your tickets here

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Savour the flavours of the past at Sovereign Hill’s Heritage Harvest Weekend

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

As autumn sets in, bringing with it auburn leaves and crisp morning air, many of us are looking for ways to warm up — our hearts and our bellies.

The Heritage Harvest Weekend at Sovereign Hill returns on May 27th – 28th, bringing together the community for a celebration of abundant seasonal harvest and heritage craftsmanship. It’s a golden opportunity to journey back to the Gold Rush era and discover how our nineteenth-century ancestors preserved and prepared their produce.

Heritage Harvest Festival

Over 30 vendors, mostly local, will take over the historic Sovereign Hill site for the weekend, showcasing their skills in fermenting, drying, salting, and curing food, as well as distilling. These age-old skills have been passed down through generations, and this event provides an opportunity to experience them firsthand.

But it’s not just about observing these skills in action. This weekend is designed to get your hands dirty, your plates full, and your mind inspired.

Three chefs, including the renowned Tony Tan and Tim Bone will be on-site to provide demonstrations, showcasing their expertise and sharing their culinary tips and tricks.

Tim Bone — Ballarat’s own Masterchef semi-finalist turned professional chef — will put his flair for bold, hearty flavours into gear with a special and intimate Miners Fare Masterclass. We’ve been told he gives the iconic baked bean a modern-day twist — which obviously must be seen to be believed.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration of Gold Rush food without a taste of Asia. Australia’s top Asian cuisine chef and teacher Tony Tan unveils the ancient art of dumpling making in his interactive workshop.

For those looking for something extra special, a separately ticketed lunch will be available, with a menu designed by chef Julia Busuttil Nishimura — also known as Julia “Ostro” after her bestselling cookbook — in collaboration with the Peter Rowland Group. The menu promises to be a delicious showcase of local produce and culinary talent.

Visitors to the Harvest Weekend can also explore the world of beekeeping, sourdough, cheese, and more at the Harvest Village. A botanical bar featuring gin, as well as a whisky and wine area, will be on offer for those looking to imbibe. And if it’s a taste of life on the goldfields you’re after? Head to the diggings, where you can indulge in damper and stew.

Sovereign Hill Festival

Even the littlest visitors will be entertained at the Harvest Weekend, with a Little Explorers Zone providing a fun play area for kids.

With so much to taste, craft and stock up on, we recommend taking a gander through the Harvest Weekend Program to plan your trip.  Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a fun day out, there’s something for everyone at this family-friendly event.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Heritage Harvest Weekend
WHERE: Sovereign Hill, Golden Point
WHEN: 27 – 28 May 2023
MORE INFO: Heritage Harvest Weekend

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Regional art gallery hosts Australian Women’s Weekly retrospective

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

1933 was a big year for the history books – some events more pleasant than others. An unequivocal high, however, was the inaugural publication of The Australian Women’s Weekly. A magazine as ubiquitous as it is beloved, at the height of its popularity, around half of all Australian women were reading it.

Now, 90 years on and still in circulation, The Weekly has partnered with Bendigo Art Gallery to launch The Australian Women’s Weekly: 90 Years of an Australian Icon.

Opening May 27 and running until August 27, this free exhibition pays tribute to some of the trailblazing women who have made the Weekly a magazine “for women, by women” since its inception.

The exhibition will showcase some of the magazine’s historical highlights, including the inspiring women who have contributed to its unmatched success, the changing fashion and style trends featured in its pages, and the creative domestic projects inspired by the magazine.

Those with an interest in fashion, journalism, or the course of feminism in Australia are in for a field day here. Flip through editions from the 50’s and 60’s with their articles on current affairs, fashion, cooking, homemaking, motherhood and romance. And chart the journey to the publications of today which cover news, lifestyle, celebrity issues and more.

Exhibitions Bendigo

Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about the inspiring women who helped shaped the magazine. Among them is Dorothy Drain, a courageous wartime reporter, who reported from the front lines during World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Of course, The Weekly has always been a source of inspiration when it comes to fashion and style, and the exhibition will feature a selection of garments by leading Australian designers, worn by notable Australian women on recent covers. These include Toni Maticevski worn by legendary culinary entrepreneur Maggie Beer, Sonia Cappallazzo for actress and writer Miranda Tapsell, and an Aurelio Costarella gown worn by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Dressmaking, interior design, craft, and cooking projects inspired by the Weekly will also feature. The guest of honour – the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, which has been inspiring creative parents for over 43 years – will be there too.

“We are beyond thrilled to be bringing some of The Weekly’s most memorable moments to the Bendigo Art Gallery in what will be a spectacular start to our 90th celebrations. The Australian Women’s Weekly has a rich heritage of combining agenda-setting news stories, real-life features with a legendary lifestyle and food offering since 1933. 90 Years of an Australian Icon brings the breadth of The Weekly’s content to the fore, demonstrating its tremendous influence on the lives of Australian women.”

Whether you’re a fashion lover, a history buff, or simply looking for some creative inspiration, this exhibition has something for everyone. And with the V-Line train fares recently capped at $9.20, there’s no reason to miss out.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: The Australian Women’s Weekly: 90 Years of an Australian Icon
WHERE: Bendigo Art Gallery
WHEN: 27 May 2023 – 27 August 2023
MORE INFO: Bendigo Art Gallery

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Kryal Castle adds BIG4 Holiday Park — just in time for the school holidays

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Ever wished you could go to bed at night, gaze out your window and see a medieval castle haloed by the moonlight? What was once regaled to Lords and Ladies of the Dark Ages is now a contemporary, affordable opportunity with the opening of BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park.

Set to officially open on Friday, April 7th—just in time for the autumn school holidays—the new BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park will expand the attraction’s current accommodation offerings to include 57 powered campsites, 16 one-bedroom cabins, and four luxurious two-story loft tiny homes. With modern furnishings and comfortable proportions, these sleeping quarters are a far cry from those of a bygone era.

Kryal Castle BIG4

Families looking to drop anchor within arms reach of entertainment will be well-catered for at the holiday park. An onsite games room comes equipped with Xbox consoles and bean bags, and a large playground will keep the kids amused for hours. Grown-ups can seek refuge with a local drop on the lounge-style deck overlooking the stunning Ballarat cityscape. Even better, your four-legged furry friends are also welcome to stay with you.

For the first month of its opening, guests will receive a 50% discount on entry to the theme park. From jousting tournaments to archery, quirky characters, Knight School, and magical potions, Kryal Castle can fulfil (almost) every medieval desire.

The BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park is conveniently located just a quick 15-minute drive away from Ballarat town centre. Not only does this freshly minted holiday park fulfil the growing demand for more accommodation options in the area, but it also aims to restore tourism to its pre-Covid levels. Upcoming hot ticket items on the Kryal Castle event calendar include the Unicorn Festival from 7th-21st April and the Smashing Pumpkins The World Is A Vampire Tour on Sunday 3rd of April.

Kryal Castle

“We’re thrilled to open the holiday park and hope that its unique location will attract more visitors to experience Kryal Castle while also increasing the accommodation offering in Ballarat. Our aim is to encourage visitors to explore all the region has to offer,” said Kryal Castle CEO Bart Hamilton.

The holiday park is part of a $5.6 million initial development, privately funded by Kryal Castle, with the option to expand a further 119 sites on the eastern side of the castle grounds.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park
WHEN: Friday, April 7th
FIND OUT MORE: BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The best outdoor experiences to discover in charming Heathcote

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Walks Heathcote Doused in history and oozing with character and flair, the hamlet of Heathcote is a central Victorian goldfields town that has all the things going for it.

Established in the 1850s, the town boasts grand gold rush architecture and is fast-becoming one of Australia’s most-loved wine regions – enticing travellers to uncover all its finest tourism offerings.

And while indulgent culinary experiences, five-star accommodation, and sweet boutiques are among some of its most alluring attractions, it is perhaps the stunning landscapes, historic streetscapes and serene natural surroundings that make Heathcote one of the most attractive and picturesque places to visit in regional Victoria.

Nestled between the imposing McHarg and McIvor Ranges and sitting at the base of Mount Ida,  a visit to Heathcote will see you soaking up the great outdoors amidst the dense ironbark forests, venturing along one of the many walking trails, enjoying a whole load of recreational activities, or simply savouring the autumnal hues and sights that the fall season bestows.

Here are some of our top picks for a rich and adventure-filled autumn experience in charming Heathcote. So sport your finest outerwear, and get set to explore.

Pink Cliffs

HeathcoteA mesmerising and colourful phenomenon, the Pink Cliffs were brought to light by the region’s early gold-mining activities. The site of major sluicing works until the early 1880s, the colourful, hill-like terrain of the cliffs provides not only an interesting stroll itself but is perfect for bird-watching and spotting wildflowers too.

Valley of Liquidambers

HeathcoteAs the name suggests, this natural wonder will have you immersed in a sea of amber and other autumn tones as you appreciate the true beauty that autumn-time provides. Located close to the centre of town just adjacent to McIvor Creek, you can pack a picnic lunch and relish in the superb colours and splendid views.

Viewing Rock Lookout and Devil’s Cave

HeathcoteTake in the entire township of Heathcote as you power up the incline through the forest and to the rock for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding area. Close to the top of the Viewing Rock, you’ll be able to visit Devil’s Cave – a place used as shelter for the First Nations Peoples and, later, gold miners during their travels. An easy to moderate 90-minute climbing walk, it’s a sure way to get your holiday exercise in while enjoying some solitude.

O’Keefe Rail Trail

Heathcote BikingThis historic journey from Heathcote to Bendigo has been travelled on since the late 1800s when the railway line first linked the two towns. Today, the recreational trail beside the old railway line allows users to journey the full 50 kilometres – albeit at a slightly slower pace. One of Victoria’s most family-friendly journeys, you’ll travel past some spectacular natural bushland, waterways and recreation reserves. Pack a picnic, spot some wondrous wildflowers, and maybe even chat with a platypus or two.

The trail even has water stations at key locations, as well as bike repair stations and interpretive and directional signage – ensuring your adventure is as smooth as possible!

If you’re an avid biker, there are plenty more trails around the town that will provide a decent glimpse into all the region’s glory – coffee included. Find out more here.

Historic Walk

Heathcote WalksTake a self-guided tour of Heathcote’s most iconic landmarks as you travel back in time and admire some of the most beautiful architecture from the Victorian era. The town’s Historic Walk contains 20 sites, each with a rich story to tell, and some which can be entered if visited at the right time. Download your own map here, and let your curiosity unfold.

Lake Eppalock

Heathcote WalksConstructed in the 1960s as a water catchment for irrigation, this iconic lake now acts as one of the major spaces for recreation of all sorts in the region – whether it’s a spot of fishing, waterskiing, boating, swimming or even bird-watching. Located on the Campaspe River and with some impressive scenery to boot – this is the place to be during your autumn escape.

Reserves and National Parks

Walks HeathcoteHeathcote’s location makes for some rather impressive natural wonders. Surrounded by reserves and national parks, your visit is bound to be riddled with adventure and its link to the gold rush past means you’ll likely come across some relics from the gold rush during your outdoor travels. Heathcote-Graytown National Park, Argyle and Spring Plains State Forest and One Eye State Forest are just some of the parklands to explore during your visit – just ensure you steer clear of any uncovered mine shafts still standing from the days of yore.

 

 

 


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Heathcote in Autumn
FIND OUT MORE: Heathcote

We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A regional accommodation space with a special story to tell

Words by Della Vreeland
Images by Abbie Melle

Stories are meant to move us. They inspire us, inform us, and educate us on the past, present and future. They seep through the pages of a book, they sound through the notes of a song, and they erupt from the colours on a canvas.

They also live in every nook and cranny of The Storekeeper’s House.

Located in the rural town of Tatura, just 20 minutes southwest of Shepparton, The Storekeeper’s House is indeed a story, a homage, an ode to the past. Celebrating its rich history, it has been lovingly restored by owners Carrie Donaldson and her husband Luis who spent two gruelling years undertaking an extensive restoration of the property to get it to where it is now. Where a tale of yesteryear can be told, and the inspiration for tomorrow can unfold.

The Storekeeper’s House was first built in 1905 by Thomas Flanagan, one of Tatura’s earliest businessmen, and had been held in the family for generations. Thomas founded Flanagan’s Store – a large general store that specialised in drapery and haberdashery and later expanded to ironmongery goods, boot-making and repairs.

Scattered throughout the house, you’ll find bits and bobs that will transport you to the time and reality of Thomas Flanagan – so you too can relive his story. There’s an antique cash register, vintage price tags, yarn, thread and spools, vintage hat and shoe moulds, keys and coat-hangers from the days of yore. All a nod to the home’s former founders.

Storekeepers House Tatura

Then there are the original features of the home – the short iron roof with corrugated glass skylight in the butler’s pantry, the original cast iron lacework and cast iron stove, exposed bricks, timber flooring, and even a surprise safe embedded in the lounge room fireplace.

But what we love most is how tastefully the entire home has been designed, with a relaxed rustic aesthetic that introduces contemporary elements into every room (hello lux French flax linen, clawfoot bath, rain showers, golden fittings and premium bath and body products), as well as sweet vintage knick-knacks, dried foliage, gilt-framed oil paintings, original photographs and antique furniture – making for a coherent design that is soul-warming and joy-inducing.

Goulburn Valley Accommodation

Carrie and Luis have also done a brilliant job hiding all those dull everyday items (kitchen cupboards and draws, television, microwave and toaster) so they just blend into the background instead of dominating the space. There’s nothing we love more than entering a living room and not having the television as the statement piece!

It’s also the little things that complete one’s stay away. The fact that there’s bread, spreads, tea, coffee and milk awaiting when you arrive. The fact that there’s a cupboard full of games or that Netflix is all signed in for guest use. The fact that there are practical items ready to further enrich your stay. Feel like a picnic under the stars? There’s a basket all packed. Want a game of croquet with the kids on the lawn? It’s all ready by the door. Fancy a trip to the market but forgot your bags? The bags are a-hanging by the pantry.

And while there’s a whole heap to discover around the Goulburn Valley region where The Storekeeper’s House is located, you’ll be forgiven for simply wanting to curl up in one of the leather couches with a hot cocoa in-hand and a soft woollen throw (no matter the season), and to simply soak up the story you find yourself now a part of.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: The Storekeeper’s House
WHERE: Tatura, Goulburn Valley
FIND OUT MORE: The Storekeepers House

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

New festival is heading to Flinders in February curated by celebrity milliner Melissa Jackson

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

This February, for three days and nights, the seaside town of Flinders will be home to some of the nation’s most talented artists and performers in a brand-new festival curated by celebrity milliner Melissa Jackson.

From February 17 – 19, 30 different performances, events, walks, talks and workshops will be taking place around town in different venues from the iconic Flinders General Store, historic St John’s Anglican Church, Flinders Ocean Beach and the Flinders Hotel.

Some of the highlights include appearances by Melbourne Opera and Soul Circus plus a new work called DIRT by internationally renowned cabaret performer, pianist, and composer John Thorn. This is a clever and witty collection of songs exploring the existential crises we all face in these first decades of the 21st century. With titles such as Why Are We Here? And Inconvenient Fruit this is a good chance to see this talented man in action.

Also performing is Sunny Reyne, daughter of musician and presenter David Reyne, with her smooth summery songs. She will be singing at the Flinders Bowls Club as will young artist Holly Hebe, known for her beautifully introspective and thoughtful songs. This is also the venue for a screening of a documentary made about the Flinders General Store called House of Commons. Made by local filmmaker Tasma Pittock it tells the story of local storekeepers Frank and Olive Commons who ran the store in the mid-20th century, a time when the fire brigade siren was inside the back door and people made their doctors’ appointments at the counter.

Foodies will not be disappointed as ABC breakfast TV star Alice Zaslavsky will be appearing at a literary lunch at the Flinders Hotel. Flinders Pier’s famous resident weedy sea dragons will also be celebrated with the creation of giant weedy sea dragon puppets by master puppeteer Ian Cumming.

With beach foraging, choirs, kite-making workshops and even former Sale of the Century host and Flinders local Tony Barber hosting a British pub singalong this is a beautiful celebration of place and people. Artistic director Melissa Jackson, a person with strong ties to the area, says “The festival will celebrate the beauty of the Mornington Peninsula’s natural environment and create economic benefits and opportunities for … local artists living on and frequenting the Mornington Peninsula. This event is truly diverse, and people of all ages will be excited by the mixed music and creative arts program on offer. There will be something for everyone.“


THE DETAILS

What: Brand new festival in beautiful Westernport village
Where: Various locations around Flinders
When: Fri 17 – Sun 19 February 2023
Who: The Mornington Peninsula’s best artists plus some talented out-of-towners
Why: Stunning landscape, some free events, great performers, summer on the Peninsula!
More Info: Flinders Fringe Festival

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The Blues Train just announced their fresh lineup for 2023

After a sell-out season this spring, The Blues Train is set to depart in 2023, with a host of fresh blues and roots talent on board.

Australia’s longest-running dedicated Blues and Roots venue, the iconic Blues Train, which runs along the Bellarine Peninsula, is turning over a new leaf and embracing the future of homegrown talent with their special Next Generation Concert Series, returning in 2023.

The series has been confirmed for several dates in January, February and March—with more to be announced soon—after its incredible success in the latter half of 2022. It’s the first time The Blues Train has turned its gaze towards up-and-coming local musicians, providing a platform for both established and emerging acts to play alongside one another; albeit it in separate carriages.

The Blues Train founder and curator Hugo T Armstrong said, “I was amazed at how quickly the Next Generation Concert Series sold out, proof of the appetite there is for Blues Train regulars and contemporary blues and roots lovers in general to hear emerging artists in the scene perform.”

Throughout 29 years of Blues Train rides, some of the best local and international blues musicians have played in the region, many of whom will be returning to accompany the fresh faces. Established artists back on the tracks for 2023 include Jimi Hocking, George Kamikawa, The McNaMarr Project, Damon Smith, Anna Scionti and Brian Fraser.

This season, however,  is all about the newfangled. Billed to perform are 2020 International Blues Challenge Finalist Aaron Pollock, Ocean Grove’s family of musicians The Von Robertsons, duo Miss Lou’s Blues, blues singer/songwriter and guitarist Jonno Zilber, blues guitarist and singer Jarrod Shaw and the mesmerising Willie J & the Bad Books.  For some artists, like blues guitarist Kathleen Halloran and Texas born/former New York local Bret Mosley, it will be their first time plucking strings on the Blues Train, though it’s unlikely to be their last.

“Finding the right balance of high-profile artists, while still providing the opportunity for emerging artists to gain employment and profile, combined with valuable gig experience is a real challenge – and I am so pleased to know that we have hit the mark,” Armstrong said.

Kicking off it’s journey in Queenscliff, the Blues Train meanders in it’s classic, steam-train style across the Bellarine Peninsula, skirting edges of the coast and through the country brush. As per tradition, four different acts—a soloist, a duo, a trio and a full band—bring their blues grooves to the carriage. Punters can sit, stand, or boogie as the iron horse journeys onward. Pit stops at stations allow the patrons to shuffle into the next carriage where the next act awaits.

It’s a full evening—the train pulls back into Queenscliff station at 11.30pm—so a layover is necessary. Just a short drive from Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula has plenty of quality accommodation options for a weary head. Why not make a weekend of it and discover all that Bellarine Peninsula has to offer: from tasting trails to panoramic views of the ocean. 

Tickets for the Blues Train shows are available now, and are strictly limited. The inspector is blowing their whistle; better hurry!

THE DETAILS
WHAT: The Blues Train: Next Generation Concert Series
WHERE: Queenscliff
WHEN: April 2023 now on sale (more dates to be announced soon)
MORE INFO: The Blues Train