I am from Gippsland, via Melbourne for 18 years. I’ve travelled the world. I now call Geelong home. It was having lunch in Queenscliff before I moved that I saw a flyer for the legendary Blues Train. Fascinated I was by this Blues Train. I must do it. What was it really like? Will I hear good music?
I’ve been listening to the Blues for years. I have vivid memories of dancing around our bedroom in London when no-one was home to the Blues. In my early 20s I was introduced to Arthur Alexander and played it on repeat, I’ve been an avid listener of Blue Juice on PBS FM and Otis Redding is one of my all time favourites.
Image: Lachlan Manley
I got a job in Geelong. Actually a pretty cool job. I work to promote and market Geelong and the beautiful Bellarine. The Chair of Bellarine Tourism at the time and the proprietor, manager and all things Blues Train invited me along for a ride.
I was pretty chuffed, my first ride on the Blues Train. It was 18 years young at the time. I escorted media on the train so they could experience it. It gave me a taste of what this well oiled machine was all about.
The Blues Train ‘is’ Queenscliff. The gates open at 6.30pm and the famous moveable bar sits pride of place at the end of the platform. By 7pm the crowd is met with a welcome by the big man himself, Mr Hugo T. Armstrong. You’ll chuckle to the topics of gay times, minding the gap and postage stamps. A meal that feels like you’re at your mates place for a warm Sunday BBQ or roast fills you up before the steam train rattles off into the distance.
There are four carriages with four amazing acts that highlight the cream of Blues artists in this country. Each time the train stops, you move carriage and listen to another great band. Carriage C and D have dance floors, in fact Carriage D is practically all dance floor. In the other carriages, if you’re like me, you’ll dance in the aisles and shake your booty to avoid falling on other passengers. Dancing is a pre-requisite.
I know the tricks of the trade; like what to do when you get to Drysdale, how to carry your beverages and when to get on the next carriage. I am privileged to have met and listened to the best blues musicians in the country and I was lucky enough to ride the train six times in one year.
Some of my favourites are local Blues legends Chris Wilson, Sweet Felicia and Wayne Jury. Others include Jimi Hocking, Jesse Valach and George Kamikawa.
I dare you! Try the legendary Blues Train for yourself. Dance like no-one’s watching, sing at the top of your lungs, sway to the movement of the train, hear acts that will surprise you, but most of all walk away from an experience you’ll never forget. In fact, because of that, no doubt your first time, won’t be your last.
It’s been going 23 years and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Actually it goes pretty slow. Even when a silly car runs into it, as it did when I was on it, you won’t know it!
Visit www.thebluestrain.com.au for the ride of your life…..