Puffing Billy is an old restored steam engine that runs on its original mountain track in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges. Built to transport the area’s first settlers around the mountains, Puffing Billy now transports visitors through the forest in its open carriages just for fun.
For adults, a ride on Puffing Billy is an opportunity to evoke the days of early train travel and the thrill of hanging out of the carriage to hear the hiss of the steam engine and the turn of the wheels on the narrow gauge track. For children (and many adults, too), it’s an exciting opportunity to ride on a ‘real’ train for the first time. As well as the pleasure of riding on an old steam train, Puffing Billy also offers the unique opportunity to rattle through the forests of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, which are home to towering Mountain Ash trees, other eucalypts, giant ferns and a variety of birds and native wildlife.
Most people start their journey at the Puffing Billy railway station in the little town of Belgrave, about one hour east of Melbourne by car. From here the train steams its way through Sherbrooke Forest, over bridges, through several villages, valleys and over creeks before ending its journey in the village of Gembrook, 24 kilometers (15 miles) later. As well as getting up close to nature, you’ll enjoy several views available on the journey, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula.
It’s possible to have several different experiences aboard Puffing Billy, including wine tasting, live Jazz, murder mystery evenings and a chance to drive the train itself. Twice a year, Puffing Billy is also transformed into ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ to the delight of visiting children.
The Puffing Billy Station at Belgrave can be reached by public transport, by car or on a guided tour. Ticket prices vary depending on how far you wish to travel on the train.