The most flamboyant way to journey to OUTintheOPEN festival
This is so much fun! Let me lay out the ingredients for you: JOY 94.9 is a gay and lesbian radio station; the only one of it's kind on analogue radio in the southern hemisphere. OUTintheOPEN is the Goulburn Valley GLBTI Pride festival, held in Shepparton from the 14-16 November 2014. These two have combined to create Australia's First Exclusive LGBTI Train.
The Ride to Pride train is keeping in the spirit of community that these organisations both ooze and generate. The train being used is worlds away from your outdated VLine locomotive. The Ride to Pride train consists of carriages from the Southern Aurora, Spirit of Progress and The Overland. Organisers have also charted and been gifted the use of carriages from various Heritage Rail Groups, the oldest is 109 years old.
Co-organiser of Ride to Pride, Leigh Peglar, tells me 'We are organising this great journey to bring together the LGBTI communities of Melbourne and country Victoria. It is an exclusive LGBTI event that enables folks to interact with others of the LGBTI world in an environment that is purely their own for the weekend.'
This fabulous journey departs Southern Cross Station on 7.30am, Saturday 15 November – so no partying on Friday night, unless you want to spend the train ride sleeping it off. You will be welcomed with a Champaign breakfast, only the best for these passengers, following which you can either get in the mood for the weekend's festivities in the onboard dance club or head to the onboard lounge for a quiet chat with your fellow travellers.
Speaking of fellow travellers, onboard service will be provided by LGBTO volunteer crew flying in from various railway organisation's all across Australia. Very impressive.
The train, adorned with rainbow flags, will slow down and whistle as it enters each town to signal its arrival to the locals. The train will pass through Donnybrook, Heathcote Junction, Seymour and Nagambi. Those onboard should grab a window seat to wave to the rural GLBTIQ supporters who will no-doubt gather to see the train pass through. Locals of Victoria's regional north, you've been warned, expect your internet speed to slow as the train passes through your town and local's Brenda and Grindr apps overload and melt the network.
Incase you need more to entice you to partake in this glamorous journey, you can turn your attention to the destination! See my piece about OUTintheOPEN to learn more about the Shepparton Pride Festival (click on my name above to see my other articles).
You arrive in Shepparton after only three short hours and have the day to explore the festival with the option to either live it large in S-town or rejoin the train crew for hors d'oeuvres and wine at 6pm, before the party really gets going at 8pm. The onboard party car 'Hobsons Bay' becomes a glittering wonderland as the DJ's take control and keep the train a-rocking until the early hours of Sunday morning.
Because you don't want to be stumbling around on sore dancing legs late at night, your bed for Saturday night is on the train. Look forward to being awoken by the smell of fresh pastries as the crew prepare your BBQ breakfast on Sunday. There is an important note in the press release for this event that states 'If you feel like a lighter option, a self-serve continental breakfast will be available.'
With a belly full and surrounded by new friends you can spend Sunday morning relaxing around/on the train, or strolling around town until the train departs, heading back to Melbourne at 1pm. There are a few stop on the way back, including a fabulous mystery location for afternoon tea, this is the LBGTI train after-all. The train will arrive back at Melbourne for 7.30pm, allowing you to get home in time for the 8.30 SBS Sunday night special.
The Ride To Pride is 17 carriages long, some 550m in length.
The train has lounges, bars, Club Carriages and a unique purpose built DJ Carriage. The majority of passengers are in single or twin cabin sleeping carriages a rare experience in today's world.
First class twin-share $350 per person to
Economy twin-share $250 per person
special option: Bear cave $250 per person twin share, bears only
Bears only? There are such a diverse range of people that could fit into this stereotype, what features would make you qualify? In 2014, there really is no need for sub cultures within one gay culture. There should never be, Us and Them. Isn't everyone welcome?