Puffing Billy Tourist Railway
Belgrave's most notable attraction is the heritage narrow gauge, steam-operated Puffing Billy Railway, which was reopened in 1962 after four years of restoration by volunteers and travels to Gembrook. The restored Puffing Billy Steam Train takes travellers on a memorable journey on Australia s most notable narrow gauge railway in the Dandenong Ranges, through 24 kilometres of cool temperate rainforest, lush ferns and towering timbers, semi-urban development and rural farmland.
This century-old steam train runs on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook that was built to serve at the turn of the century. The Railway is the major survivor of four experimental lines used to develop rural areas in the early 1900s.
At Lakeside, the intermediate stop of the railway is inside the beautiful Emerald Lake Park (some services terminate here). Passengers can alight here for a few pleasant hours of bushwalking, swimming or just relaxing in the peaceful country setting and catch the return train for their return journey. Emerald Lake Park features old exotic tree species and expanses of lawn, amenities such as picnic and barbecue facilities, an Environment Centre (Ph. 03-5968 5095), free trout fishing opportunities for those with a licence (children under 16 do not require a licence if accompanied by an adult), a free and supervised swimming pool, children s playground, electric barbecues and picnic facilities.
At Emerald Lake Park there is the largest HO scale model display in the southern hemisphere. It features 2 km of track, detailed scenery, 370 working engines, 450 cars and trucks, 250 houses and buildings, street and platform lights, 1100 trees, 1500 people, and push-button participation. It is open from 11.30 a.m. mainly on weekends plus all school and public holidays and is located adjacent Lakeside train station. Ph (03) 5968 3455.
Special Lunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner trains run from time to time, see website for schedules. Travel charges apply.
Hours: Roughly 10 AM - 4 PM, but check the website for precise schedules from each point on the line
Contact: (03) 9757-0700. Website
Location: All Puffing Billy trips depart from and return to Belgrave station in the Dandenong Ranges, 40 km east of Melbourne.
By rail, take the train from Flinders St, or any city station, to Belgrave station on the Belgrave line (70 min.). The Puffing Billy platform is close to Belgrave Railway Station.
By car, drive to the end of Burwood Hwy to Belgrave (Melway Map 75 F10) and park near the station. Alternatively, take Wellington Road to Clematis, then turn left toward Menzies Creek or Right toward Emerald, Lakeside and Gembrook. Car parking is available near these stations.
By coach tour, operators offer Day Trips to the Dandenong Ranges which include a ride on Puffing Billy in their itineraries. Tours leave from Southern Cross station bus terminal, Spencer Street, city.
The Great Train Race: The Great Train Race is an annual fun run from Belgrave to Emerald Lake in which participants attempt to beat Puffing Billy to the finish line and is organised by volunteers of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society.