Lawyer, Consultant & Politician: Expert in Overseas Education & Immigration Matters, Traveller & Blog writer
Culture and heritage always attract human minds, and their roots give blood to our growth. No doubt life moves every moment in the future, but still past plays its role to shape our present and future. Many things of the past can be the reason for making our life more beautiful and worth living.
Puffing Billy’s steam rail is one of those things of the past that are worth being preserved forever. I visited this dreamland during my visit to Melbourne in June 2010. As I feel on every travel, you see beautiful things; it was really a wonderful and memorable experience to see the rail preserved in its original look.
It is a railway track of 24 km running through dense and beautiful forest. Volunteers of Puffing Billy Preservation Society are putting their efforts to ensure the continued preservation and operation of the historic narrow-gauge steam railway between Belgrave and Gembrook.
Built in 1900, Puffing Billy is Australia's oldest steam railway. On the 18th December 1900, this narrow-gauge railway was opened to serve the farmers in the area to transport their goods to the markets in Melbourne.
Belgrave, the gateway to Dandenong Ranges, is situated 35 km east of Melbourne. You can plan your way to get there. If you are not going in your own car, there is a second option to use public transport. Metro train service is available from Melbourne city to Belgrave via Ringwood. Belgrave is the primary starting point of this railway. It would take approx. one hour to get there. When I visited this place the first time, I used public transport, which is quite easy and cost-effective. After reaching Belgrave station, you have to take a short walk to puffing billy station.
Open-sided carriages add more fascination to the travel experience as you feel closer to the forest and nature. The whole track passes through many curves, where you can easily get the train’s view captured in your cameras. You can’t ever forget the thrilling sensation when you pass over an iconic wooden bridge. On the train, there are also several enclosed carriages, both saloon and compartment cars.
Menzies Creek, Clematis, Emerald, Nobelius, Lakeside, Wright, Cockatoo, Fielder are the main railway stations between Belgrave and Gembrook. Near Menzies Creek station, there is a narrow-gauge railway museum. Emerald is a good place to stop off and eat and Lakeside to have a walk. Emerald is also the destination as well departure point of many trains of Puffing Billy.
..stop to relax at Lakeside
At Lakeside, there are many café’s refreshing points, lawns, supervised swimming pools, playgrounds, barbecues, and other picnic facilities, so passengers can alight here for few pleasant hours and enjoy bushwalking, swimming, or just relaxing in peaceful surroundings. This station is 13.2 Kms from Belgrave.
Operations and administration centre, main refreshment room (also selling souvenirs), and ticket purchasing is located at Belgrave station.
Most trains start from Belgrave and travel to Lakeside and returns. Except for Christmas Day, the railway operates every day of the year. One service each day has the option of first-class carriages and lunch.
This railway track was blocked in 1953 after a heavy landslide but again reopened in 1962 till Menzies Creek and in 1988 till Gembrook Station.
Before you plan your trip, there are few important things that you need to take care of. You must know the timetable of daily trains that starts from Belgrave. There were four trains daily when I last visited. You must check it while planning to go there. Trains have tickets that you also need to book well in time to avoid any issues later.
Travelling on the Puffing Billy train is like recapturing the romance and charm of the bygone days of the steam engine era. Puffing Billy steam rail takes you through the dense and beautiful forest of Dandenong hill ranges, and you feel like moving in some dreamland. It’s really worth visiting again and again.
I will end my article by saying that travelling always helps us understand the meaning of life, become better people, keep travelling, and keep exploring.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Jaspal Singh
MG Singh from UAE on January 13, 2012:
Hi Jaspal, interesting post
Sameer on April 19, 2011:
Ya. thanks for d info Jaspal. Is there any indian / turkish/ lebenanese restuarents at menzies creek or emerald for lunch?? recommend a good one as im taking my family this easter on puffing billy,, there is a similar heritage train in matheran in bombay too!!
baljit on November 27, 2010:
once i enjoy puffing billy train with my small family
Jaspal Singh (author) from India / Australia on October 17, 2010:
Dear Patty Inglish,MS, Thanks for your nice comment.
Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2010:
The sorchestra number "Puffing Billy" about the train was the theme song of the original Captain Kangaroo Show. If I hear it today, It still makes me hace a good day. Thank you for this Hub. Voted up and rated.
Jaspal Singh (author) from India / Australia on October 04, 2010:
Dear lotuslove19 & TS. Thanks for your appreciation and adding more Information. Jaspal
TransScribbler on October 04, 2010:
Even though I grew up in only kilometres from Belgrave, it is a couple of decades since I have been on Puffing Billy.
As a child it was a regular outing in the school holidays. I can still remember sitting, feet dangling over the railing, waving vinyl Puffing Billy flags at the cars at the trestle bridge and Menzies Creek crossing.
Back then, of course, Lakeside was the end of the line.
Thank you very much for bringing up some wonderful childhood memories!
Sarika Mehra on October 03, 2010:
awesome!have you been to Darjeeling it has the same kind of narrow gauge train and you feel great to be the part of Indian heritage ,we even have train for Rajasthan tour ,which have compartments made like palace rooms EG; RAMBAGH PLACE ,JAI MAHAL PALACE UDAIPUR PLACE ETC
Jaspal Singh (author) from India / Australia on August 17, 2010:
Dear Blue Mountain Getaways Guy. Thanks for adding more information.
Blue Mountains Getaways Guy on August 16, 2010:
Things like the puffing billy are very nostalgic and its good that they a little history has been preserved for us. If anyone's in Sydney and wanting to find similar train rides check out http://www.ideal-sydney-getaways.com/train-day-tri...
Blue Mountains Getaways Guy
Gurpreet on July 29, 2010:
Waoooooooooooooo.I really feel gudddd 2 c dis.
Jaspal Singh (author) from India / Australia on July 29, 2010:
Dear Hummingbird & Jasnav. Thanks for your comment on my Hub. Puffing Billy is really nice and worderfull place to visit. Have you ever been there ?
Jasnav on July 29, 2010:
Nice hub. Great to learn about wonderful little places in far off lands that are so beautiful they touch the heart.
Hummingbird5356 on July 29, 2010:
When we were kids we would call a train a puffing billy. I haven't heard that phrase for a long time.