I'm a freelance writer living in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne. I'm a lover of theatre, soccer and making the most of life.
Published December 27th 2017
When I was first convinced to attend the Blues Train, I have to admit I wasn't exactly jumping for joy. After all, jazz music wasn't really my cup of tea and to be perfectly honest, given that we had decided to go in August, the chances of the night being balmy was very slim. I did, however, decide to attend the dinner and show with an open mind and hold off judgement until the night was over.
The train makes its way from Queenscliff to Drysdale and back, stopping at Suma on the way there and also on the way back. You leave the carriage at each station and get onto the next carriage where another band/artist is playing.
Blues Train Route - Photo courtesy of the Blues Train website
We arrived at Queenscliff Platform around 6.00pm and there was already a great deal of hustle and bustle on the platform. We made our way to the end of the platform and ordered drinks to take on the ride with us. You can buy drinks at each platform but initially, you will need to buy enough to last you through dinner and up until the first platform as the bar is closed when the train is moving. Also, make sure you bring cash as they don't take EFTPOS and definitely no BYO. One thing we got caught out with is that we bought a bottle of wine right at the last station but only had a glass out of it and you can't take bottles off the station, so make sure you plan your drinks accordingly.
The Bar Area which has heaters burning in the cooler months.
The meal varies according to the time of year you attend but ours was absolutely amazing. I love smorgasbords and this definitely was one great smorgasbord. There is enough food for everyone, even enough for seconds if you were still hungry.
You have a choice of four carriages when you book. Carriage A is a little more expensive. I'm not entirely sure why this is. We initially thought it was because they would be served first but this wasn't the case. I actually think it may have been to do with the fact that Carriage A had tables to eat off, whereas the other carriages had varied eating options. Personally, eating off our knees gave us reason to converse with other people on the train and we ended up making friends with a few couples who we actually arranged to meet up with the next day for breakfast.
With dinner finished the train departed the Queenscliff station. This was Alex Hahn & the Blue Riders debut on the Blues Train, so it was aptly fitting it was our first time too. Alex's voice was soft and sultry, the blue tinge of the stage lights and smokey vibes of her first song transported me to New Orleans. I imagined sipping whiskey at a jazz bar while parades of people moved in colour along the busy streets. I felt quite sad when we arrived at the station as I wasn't ready to leave and I think this, for myself at least, was the perfect carriage to begin the journey on.
There was a chill in the air, although it was hardly noticeable, as we chatted feverishly on the station to some of the other patrons before making our way to the next carriage. Each artist was totally different from the previous. The next carriage had a rock/jazz band, followed by a duo Cleveland Blues - on an east coast tour from QLD. Our final carriage was definitely my favourite, but considering he was actually the 'Australian Blues Performer of the Year', Dan Dinnen lived up to all my expectations. His music was softer than the rest of the groups and the perfect way to end a surprisingly enjoyable evening.
Perfomers we were lucky enough to see - Photo courtesy of the Blues Train Facebook page
You can ride the train from August to May, on most Saturday nights and occasionally on a Friday. It really makes for a great night out or why not make it into a weekend and discover what else Queenscliff has to offer.