We decided to head to Melbourne for the Easter weekend to spend some time with our Melbourne family. As part of our weekend festivities, they had booked us all a trip on the Puffing Billy steam train. A real-life Thomas the Tank Engine!!!
The Puffing Billy steam train is located in the Dandenong Ranges just an hour from Melbourne. The railway line was originally constructed to develop rural areas in Victoria in the early 1900s. The narrow gauge railway line was used to ferry potatoes, carrots, vegetables, fruit and nursery goods grown in the lush and healthy soil of the Dandenong Mountains. Years later after a couple of landslides, a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers assembled together to build new bridges and tracks. Today Puffing Billy is a major tourist attraction that is run entirely by volunteers.
On the morning of our trip, we packed a picnic lunch and a couple of flasks with coffee (it was a chilly day) and headed off to the Dandenong Ranges. We arrived at the Belgrave Station where we received our very cute souvenir tickets (luckily we had pre-booked as all the tickets were sold out for the day). We were guided onto an open carriage with bench seating down the middle all facing outwards, although the favourite way to travel is to sit on the side of the carriage with legs dangling over the edge – which of course we all did.
We decided to take the trip to Lakeside Station which takes about an hour one way. The Puffing Billy track winds through the Dandenong Ranges through temperate rainforest, past farmlands and over a beautiful old wooden bridge with lots of great photo opportunities. Everyone that the train passes seems to feel they MUST wave and everyone on the train waves back which we all found quite amusing.
When we arrived at the Lakeside station we disembarked the train and made our way to the engine for some photos. The captain allowed us to shovel some coal into the furnace and see the steam build up. We then took a short walk to Emerald Lake Park where we found a bench under the trees to have our picnic. We unpacked our lunch and sat down to watch the ducks, birds and paddle boats on the lake.
After our picnic, we walked back to the train station for our return trip. We made sure we arrived at the station early enough to get good seats so that we could get some more great photos.
Puffing Billy is the perfect activity and outing for the whole family!
Adult tickets cost $54 return.
Once a year, The Puffing Billy Preservation Society host the Puffing Billy Great Train race that is an exciting 13,5km running race competing against the steam locomotive.