Few modes of travel feel more leisurely, indulgent, and nostalgic than going by train, and Puffing Billy is one of the most beloved railways in Australia for a reason. Built in 1900, the well-preserved steam train allows tourists to discover the vintage charms of travelling by rail—the iconic whistling of the classic locomotive, friendly conductors, open-air carriages, and the spectacular scenery along the original mountain track winding through the forest. Whether you’re on your own or exploring with the family, this 25-kilometre-long journey is an offbeat holiday activity for travellers in Melbourne. Before you hop aboard, scroll on for our expert tips on the iconic Puffing Billy journey.
Know The Puffing Billy Journey You Want To Take
If you’re coming from the Belgrave Station, there are three different stops to choose from: Menzies Creek Station, Emerald Lakeside Station, or Gembrook Station. It all boils down to the time you have available. A roundtrip journey to Menzies will only take about two hours, an ideal option for tourists with a packed schedule. If you have a bit more time, it’s worth going further and enjoying a roundtrip excursion to picturesque Lakeside for 3.5 hours or historic Gembrook for six hours.
Dress For Comfort, Cold, And Sun Protection
Keep in mind that this is a vintage train, so some soot can be expected. Skip the fancy outfits for this activity, especially pristine white tops and bottoms! Instead, wear something comfortable. Dandenong Ranges tend to be cooler than Melbourne by a few degrees, so bring a jacket in case the temperature drops too low for you. Good walking shoes are also recommended, as well as hats and plenty of sunscreen.
Spend Some Time At Belgrave Station
Sure, most Puffing Billy tours start and end at Belgrave, but this station is so much more than just a stop before your adventure. Allot a little time to look around before the journey starts. Here, tourists can check out the Locomotive Running Shed & Workshop, then buy souvenirs and snacks for the trip. It’s also quite exciting to marvel at the ancient train as it whistles and blows out steam—exactly the way trains do in period movies!
Bring Your Camera
The whole journey is a photographer’s dream, so make sure you’re ready to take lots of pictures. One of the most iconic landmarks along the route is the Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge, an old timber bridge where you can take the picture-perfect snapshot of the steam engine as the train chugs along the ancient rails.
Other famous spots along the route include the Menzies Creek Museum at the Menzies Creek Station, paddleboats and the Emerald Lake Model Railway at Emerald Lakeside, and even views of Port Phillip Bay on clear days. Farmlands, forests, and old wooden bridges are also worth capturing.
Enjoy A Fun-Filled Picnic At Lakeside
One of the most enchanting parts of the journey on the Puffing Billy is Lakeside Station inside Emerald Lake Park. It’s a pretty place to enjoy a family picnic, whether you’re planning to pack a picnic basket or buy food at the kiosks. Picnic tables are available, as well as barbecue facilities, playgrounds, a wading pool during summer, and paddleboats. Take a stroll along the park’s walking trails to explore the flourishing flora and fauna in the area.
Book Your Tickets In Advance
This is a popular attraction in Australia, so it’s important to plan your trip ahead of time. Purchasing a ticket online is a good way to get a guaranteed seat on the heritage steam train—and make sure you get there on time so you don’t get left behind!
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*Featured photo via KKday Supplier