Puffing Billy is a historical landmark of Melbourne’s south east suburbs. More than simply a tourist destination, the train line allows you to travel back in time to enjoy life at a slower pace whilst taking in the unique flora and fauna of the Dandenong Ranges . In this week’s blog, we’ll be delving into the history behind this iconic Melbourne attraction.
1900: The birth of Puffing Billy
The Puffing Billy train line opened on December 18 in 1900 to serve the local timber and farming industries. The track was designed to open up the remote areas of south east Melbourne and ran along one of four low-cost 726mm gauge lines and covered 29km between Upper Ferntree Gully and Gembrook. In 1953, a landslide blocked the train line between Menzies Creek and Selby, and so the train line was closed the following year.
1955: Puffing Billy re-opens
On October 1 1955, the Puffing Billy Preservation Society was formed to get the train running again indefinitely. 2 years later, it was determined that the train would no longer run between Upper Ferntree Gully and Belgrave, and so the Puffing Billy Preservation Society worked to construct a new station at Belgrave to accommodate for this change. In 1965, the train ran through to Emerald station, as part of the Menzies Creek-Emerald section. Then, in 1998, the line to Gembrook reopened, and Puffing Billy returned to its former glory.
Today, and beyond
These days, Metro Trains Melbourne have replaced Puffing Billy with electric suburban trains from Upper Ferntree Gully to Belgrave. However, beyond Belgrave, the Puffing Billy Preservation Society have reopened the Puffing Billy line as a tourist destination. Surrounded by lush, green Australian bush and the fernery of the lower Dandenong Ranges, there’s not many better ways to spend a Sunday with the family than steaming through the rainforest on this traditional train.
Melbourne on The Move offers half day tours to Puffing Billy, where you can experience Australia’s oldest preserved steam train, enjoy a delicious Devonshire tea of scones with jam and take in the sights of the beautiful Sherbrooke Forest. Book your ticket online for an unforgettable trip back in time, or call 1300 55 86 86.