I'm a freelance writer who lives on the Bellarine Peninsula. I enjoy finding new things to see and do in the beautiful area that I live in.
Published November 13th 2017
The hospitality industry can be a fickle business. With so many fantastic restaurants and cafes out there, it can be difficult to set yourself apart from others of a similar ilk.
The Q Train is the Bellarine's newest experience in dining
You may have the freshest local ingredients, the best wait staff and the most creative bar people on board, but none of that matters if there's another venue nearby with similarly amazing qualities. Word of mouth can be the key to success, but having something extra that makes you unique can make you all the more enticing to diners.
Enter The Q Train.
This boutique rail restaurant can seat up to 86 diners across three carriages
The only boutique rail restaurant of its kind in Australia, The Q Train is a rather new 'establishment', only commencing service in October 2017. The restaurant is made up of several train carriages that were purchased and transported from Queensland Rail, all of which have been lovingly restored and adapted to create a unique dining experience.
Travelling at slow speeds as you dine on an exquisite 6-course degustation menu, the train has a built-in commercial kitchen, as well as Club Loco- a carriage that has a bar and even a mini dance floor. Visitors are invited to walk through the narrow passageways of the train and soak up the rich history of the carriages, while admiring the historical travel posters that decorate the walls, and enjoying the vintage vibes of walking through a sleeper carriage, not unlike those you would find on The Orient Express.
Movement through the carriages between courses is encouraged, and you may be lucky enough to talk with the train driver before the journey commences (or at one of the stops) and look in on the controls for the train itself.
House Made Ricotta and Sage Farm Salted Beef from the Degustation Menu
Portarlington Mussels and Barongarook Pork from the Degustation Menu
Sage Farm Spring Lamb and Wattle Grove Honey & Chocolate from the Degustation Menu
Departing from the historic Drysdale train station on the Bellarine Peninsula (about a 15-minute drive from Geelong), the train stops at Suma Park and Swan Bay, before reaching the Queenscliff train station. Each stop is about 20 minutes long, giving diners the chance to stretch their legs, visit the bathrooms (although there are limited toilets on board if you need to go while the train is travelling) or explore the train further. The train then makes its return journey back to Drysdale, with the entire experience taking approximately 4 hours.
Enjoy a cocktail from the drinks menu. Pictured here are the Bellarine Bang and the Strawberry Caprioska
During the journey, diners can enjoy the set menu created completely from local produce. The various wines, beers and ciders on the drinks menu are also locally produced within the Geelong region, and perfectly complement the food. For those not drinking, there are also non-alcoholic beverages available. The Q Train is able to adjust their menu to cater for coeliacs, lactose intolerant people, and those with allergies, and have a degustation menu specifically for vegetarians, although you must advise staff of these requirements when booking. Although children are welcome to dine on The Q Train, there are no children's menus available- the travel fare and the food options will be the same as for adults, regardless of age.
The train travels from Drysdale to Queenscliff, then back again (stopping at Suma Park and Swan Bay along the way)
This is a fantastic and unique dining experience for train-lovers and foodies alike, and well worth a visit. Bookings are essential and can be made on the website www.theqtrain.com.au
Where:On the Bellarine Peninsula- Train leaves from Drysdale Railway Station, Victoria (although in peak times and school holidays, this may change to Queenscliff Railway Station- Please check website for details)
Cost:There are 2 dining options: 6-course degustation menu for $99 per person or 6-course degustation menu with matched beverages $139 per person