Puffing Billy: The Steam Railway Journey that Health and Safety Forgot

Puffing Billy Steam Railway Melbourne Australia

Based in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, an hours drive from Melbourne, is the Puffing Billy Railway.

Running between Belgrave and Gembrook, carriages built in the early 1900's haul passengers up and down the line, passing through tall gum trees and man sized fern forests. A one way journey for the entire line takes approximately 2 hours and 35 minutes. If time is tighter, there are options to exit the train and explore at a number of stops along the route.

For $57 AUD per adult we opted to travel between Belgrave and Lakeside- a 55 minute scenic journey that Health and Safety forgot.

Boarding a packed train we were able to find a spot to undertake the traditional approach to Puffing Billy travel- hanging our legs over the side.


It is only fair to mention at this point that some casualties did result from this approach to the journey- we saw one forlorn looking trainer, one accidentally discarded flip flop and a dropped baseball cap on the side of the tracks. The fact that we could see anything at all was quite amazing given the amount of wood cinders that we managed to catch in the eye (or eat) on the way up!

The view from the ledge was incredible, but especially so when we dangled over the trestle bridge, 42 feet above the road.

Puffing Billy Steam Railway Melbourne Australia trestle bridge Puffing Billy Railway PBR NA Class 8a Australian narrow gauge

Having successfully made our way to Lakeside we disembarked to enjoy what the area had to offer. The Lakeside stop is located within the Emerald Lake Park and, like most other public spaces in Australia, offers picnic and barbecue areas.There is also a cafe, a wading pool and fantastic green woodland to enjoy.

An unexpected bonus of Lakeside was the local birdlife, inquisitive and friendly. In the hope that we might encounter some birds that wanted to become acquainted we had carried bird seed with us. My Travelling Buddy (who has always had a way with the birds) was an immediate hit with the crimson rosellas.

wild crimson rosella Puffing Billy Railway

Despite our best efforts, the kookaburra's were less inclined to play nicely for bird seed (although we did get to witness a spectacular piece of intelligent team work between two kookaburra's at Sky High in the Dandenong Ranges on another occasion, where they managed to mug a tourist of a piece of cake off of her fork as it went to her mouth. More on that another time).

Kookaburra Australia bird
Wholly unimpressed by our bird seed offering, it became apparent later in our trip that kookaburras prefer cake

Part of the beauty of Puffing Billy is that there is something for all the family and you can spend as long as you like at your end destination, making it a different and fun day out. Return tickets are open for any returning train, so there was no rush to cram in the views at Lakeside before embarking on our Health and Safety nightmare journey back to Belgrave

Puffing Billy Steam Railway Australia Puffing Billy Railway PBR NA Class 8a Australian narrow gauge

In terms of preservation of assets, Puffing Billy works on a number of levels. The Preservation Society care for the rolling stock and the engines. The railway participates in The Green Tracks Project and work to help maintain and protect the local waterways to assist the native flora and fauna of the area.

And what better way is there to spend an afternoon, other than dangling over a bridge, with cinders in your hair, and knowing that while you enjoy yourself the railway you're supporting is helping the local environment?



Comments

  1. Oh wauw how magical! I would love to go on a ride like this - really great post :)

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  2. It's a cool story, and I like the fact that you can interact with wildlife on the journey! There's a children's railway in my hometown taking you up in the canopy that reminds me of this one!

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  3. Oh my gosh! I would totally love this! What a fun experience dangling over the side of the train taking in all the great scenery around you.

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  4. Wow, sounds like a lot of fun. At first when I saw the pictures it reminded me a bit of the Hogwarts Express :D

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  5. That looks so much fun! I love taking tours on such a cool trains! Ive done one last year in Spain and it was amazing! The bridge looks pretty scary tho! I would never sit like that with my legs hanging out :D Great photos

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  6. This looks like something from another time! wow! I'd be careful with my sandels though...

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  7. That's a brilliant trip, wonderfully told. I think I'd have been a bit wary when it came to dangling bits of myself over the trestles, but I'd be sure to keep my footwear attached. Lovely pics of the birds too - and a bright idea to take some grub for them. We have seagulls here who take the kookaburra teamwork approach.

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  8. We are so going to do this on our next trip to Melbourne! My husband loves trains and he would have a great time doing this - especially dangling our feet over the side!!!

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  9. What a fabulous railroad trip! Your photos are beautiful and really make me want to hop the first plane out. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. This is AMAZING! Looks like straight out of an old movie <3 I'd love to spend time on Puffing Billy! :)))

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  11. Such a lovely trip! It reminds me of a steam engine ride in California amidst redwoods forest. Next time when I will take a steam engine ride, I will try hanging my legs over the side.

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  12. I'm sad we didn't make it there while we were in Australia! But I'll keep your article for next time ! (there will always be a next time!)

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  13. I'm going to check this out when we are in Australia for sure. I love stuff like this. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  14. haha, I am surprised they let you sit with your legs dangling but it must be a freeing feeling?

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  15. Nice. That bridge picture is amazing and a bit scary at the same time. But looks so much fun!

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  16. Looks like a fun journey! We've been riding trains in India and Sri Lanka and they definitely leave us with some health and safety question! Great bird shots!

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  17. That sounds like such a fun trip! My nephew would absolutely love to do this.

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  18. That sounds like so much fun! :)

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  19. Look at that kookaburra! ...Amazing bird spotting for sure. Such pretty pics you have managed to get here.. The train trip seems fun indeed.

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  20. This looks so cool! I heard of Puffing Billy while I was out in Aus but never had the chance to do it or really look into it. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. This looks like a great family activity. And the birds look stunning!

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  22. I've done this before! SO FUN!

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