In our mad dash along the Mornington Peninsula from Patterson Lakes it was soon realised we had forgotten our tickets! No time to turn back, in transit we phoned home and had the tickets photographed and sent. Okay, we could continue on our way, knowing it would be very tight window. Google informed us fifty-five minutes travel to Sorrento, the ferry was due to leave in sixty. Then a twenty minute ferry journey to Queenscliff or, we feared an hour wait till the next ferry departure and possibly miss the much anticipated Blues Train.
We made it to the ferry with just a minute to spare. The drawbridge raised as we headed to the Bar! Man we needed a drink. Settled in, we bounced across the Heads, us happy three.
We then joined 200 excited blues lovers populating the four carriages and spilling out onto the platform. Stocking up on drinks, snacks and merch as we prepared to be pulled along the 16-km track and back of the Bellarine line.
Our engineer for the trip, Col England, a volunteer on the line for 20 years, had the tender fired and the smoke billowing out the beautifully restored engine 251. A former work horse of South Australia until 1970. It stood ready to roll, shimmering black in the evening’s rain soaked light.
The plates were cleared and the train left the station. Andrew Farrell,’The Piano Wizard’ hit off the evening with Before You Accuse Me, a tribute to Dutch Tilders. A number of sing-along tunes followed such as The Letter, peppered with rapid boogie woogie piano. A good warm up and a lot of fun.
We followed the shore of beautiful Swan Bay to our first stop, Summa Park.The mobile bar was unloaded from the converted Guards Van. A brisk walk in the steady rain along the platform with a replenished booze bucket. To the next car where Geoff Achison awaited. This Bluesman is a legend, a great friend of Chris Finnen and the late, lauded Dutch Tilders. A guitar maestro with a voice that seeps Mississippi mud, held court at the centre of carriage B for Blues. The blues had truly arrived and it wasn’t about to leave.
By Peter Allan.