The legendary Blues Train has been rocking up and down the Bellarine Peninsula for 26 years but now she needs some help to keep going.
After a difficult year like so many others in the music industry, the team have started a Go Fund Me campaign to keep the iconic train in business and get the show back on the rails.
As Australia’s longest running blues music venue, the Blues Train is a pillar of the live music industry in Victoria. It also brings an influx of tourism to the towns of the Bellarine Peninsula, especially Queenscliff where the journey starts and finishes.
“We need money to fire up The Blues Train and, when JobKeeper dries up, to keep our loyal staff on board. Our estimate is, a minimum of $70,000 is needed to make this a reality,” the Go Fund Me page reads.
“Help us to continue to foster the next generation of Blues musicians. Give, so our legendary Blues musicians continue to hone their craft. Give, so our volunteer-run Bellarine heritage railway can continue to pull the legend that is The Blues Train.”
The plans to restart the train in October were unfortunately derailed by Victoria’s second wave of COVID. With proper social distancing impossible on the train, founder Hugo T. Armstrong said the $70,000 will go towards hibernating the train until it is safe to start again.
The venue also received a share in the Victorian Live Music Venues grants announced by the state government last month but with over $100,000 in losses, they need more help from the public.
The campaign is over halfway to its goal already, with almost 500 patrons generously donating $40,572.
It’s easy to see why people are so eager to save it. Like a roaming music festival aboard a heritage steam train, it rolls through some of the most gorgeous landscapes on the peninsula. On the journey between Queenscliff and Drysdale it passes through lush green farmland, coastal lookouts and the incredibly diverse and wildlife filled Swan Bay Wetlands.
The blues fans on board are treated to dinner and a well-stocked bar before the train rattles off and the show begins. At each stop you’ll switch carriages (and stock up on drinks) so over the course of the evening you see four exciting new acts. Carriage D is always a favourite of the night with a dance floor to get you out of your seats and boogying. Just don’t have too many drinks or you might have trouble staying on your feet!
The train usually hosts 200 people a night, every weekend between August and May. Many of those passengers spend the weekend in the area, continuing the night at the Queenscliff Brewhouse after the show, grabbing fish and chips to enjoy on the beach the next afternoon, visiting the many wineries on the peninsula and staying in local accommodation.
The Blues Train is also stalwart supporter of up and coming artists and many big names including The Tesky Brothers, Dallas Frasca and Ash Grunwald all started their careers singing the blues aboard the train.
If you want to experience The Blues Train for yourself and keep the music going, you can support the crowdfunding campaign, buy a gift voucher or pick up some merchandise from the website.