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Discovery Centre

Puffing Billy Railway Lakeside Discovery Centre, Emerald Lake Park

By Christmas 2020, Puffing Billy Railway will have a new, state-of-the-art $20M Lakeside Discovery Centre at Emerald Lake Park in Emerald. The new Discovery Centre will enhance the Puffing Billy experience by featuring a café, function spaces, significantly upgraded toilet facilities, retail, food and beverage options and interpretation spaces for school groups and families.

The new site will become the hub of the railway and shall be instrumental in opening up the Lakeside to Gembrook section of the train line for use all year round.

Funding Sources

  • $8.2M from the Victorian State Government
  • $5.5M from the Federal Government
  • $6.3M from Puffing Billy Railway


About the Lakeside Discovery Centre (LDC) Project Governance Group (PGG)

Under the oversight of the Lakeside Discovery Centre (LDC) Project Governance Group (PGG), this project has now progressed from Design Development into the Construction Documentation phase. The PGG was formed with the introduction of the new Board and comprises of Board members, representatives of government and ETRB management.

This Group plays a critical role in reviewing key deliverables, timelines, costs, statutory requirements and ensuring that the result will deliver to the intent of the Master Plan and strategic goals of the railway. As is appropriate, any key actions and decisions arising from the PGG are then forwarded to the Board for formal ratification.


First internal renders released

Whilst minor design details are still being finalised, we are pleased to release our first artist impressions based on the architect’s current plans along with associated plans.

Upon viewing the artist's impressions, you will see that externally the Lakeside Discovery Centre is black and shiny like the locomotives that are the signature of the railway, which ultimately recedes into the shadows of the bush. The new Lakeside Discovery Centre is a silhouette backdrop - grounded in place - to the hero that is the Puffing Billy Railway.

This project has been through extensive formal public and internal consultation and the varying views have been taken into account.  The contemporary design, whilst notably in contrast to the usual heritage style of the railway, was selected by a broad panel comprising of internal stakeholders and external, independent experts and was determined to be the best design to meet the needs and expectations of the diverse range of stakeholders that enjoy Puffing Billy today.  The design and functionality have also been subjected to two separate reviews by the Victorian Design Review Panel of the Victorian Government Architect Office. Their advice was consistent with other architecture, government, design and heritage development specialists in strongly recommending against the creation of a “false heritage” design.

Please note: These are artists impressions only.

Puffing Billy - LDC Great Hall

Image above: Great Hall


Image above: Cafe corridor


Image above: Discovery Centre Entrance


Image above: External view from Model Railway car park


Image above: External view from lake


Image above: Evening view from lake

Project updates

December 2019

On Tuesday 17th December, the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula and Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing visited Emerald Lake Park to support and witness the early works on the $20 million, state-of-the-art centre which is due to open in December, 2020.

The event was attended by a group of esteemed guests, including the Emerald Tourist Railway Board, Casey Cardinia Shire members, Terroir Architects, Construction company Kane Constructions, Engineering firm AECOM, Puffing Billy staff and Management and fellow residents and local business owners of Emerald.

You can keep up to date with the progress on HERE. Here you will find regular updates on the construction work and you will be able to ask questions and leave comments for our team to respond to.

November 2019

It's all systems go this month!

From Thursday 7th November, works on site will commence with access altered until November 22. While all arriving and departing trains, and its passengers, will still have pedestrian access to Lakeside and the wig wag crossing, the site will be temporarily unavailable to buses on the station side of the lake. Alternative interim bus bays in the Lakeside car park will be arranged as part of approved Traffic Management Plans.

Stage one tree works will begin from Tuesday 12th November, including the first Saturday, to Friday 22nd November, with no works scheduled on Sunday 17th November. During this time, there will be no trains stopping at Lakeside and the station side of this railway will be closed. The opposing side of the railway will remain open to the public, unless otherwise notified.

From Tuesday 19th November, water main diversion works will commence and are scheduled to take approximately 5-6 weeks to complete. We anticipate this activity will be finished before the Christmas break and should not impact train services running through Lakeside. Road access will be impacted between the wig wag crossing and the lake nearest the Council Enviro Centre and footbridge. Pedestrian access across this crossing will be maintained by Puffing Billy and Council.

Parking will be disrupted until car park works are completed in early 2020. Alternate parking within the park is available at Lion's Den and Bellbird car parks.

You can keep up to date with the progress on HERE. Here you will find regular updates on the construction work and you will be able to ask questions and leave comments for our team to respond to.

August 2019

Builder appointed and construction on the way for Puffing Billy's new state-of-the-art Lakeside Discovery Centre in Emerald.

The iconic steam train, Puffing Billy Railway, is not the only one with momentum, with construction planning full steam ahead by newly appointed Kane Constructions, for the new state-of-the-art $20M Puffing Billy Lakeside Discovery Centre in Emerald.

In the next week, the project team will begin preliminary site establishment works including site amenities installation. As of the 26th of August 2019, the actual construction works will commence with early stage site preparation works, gradually increasing in activity over the next months with a scheduled completion date for the project of late 2020.

Car parking will be maintained and business within the park will continue operating during this time.

You can keep up to date with the progress on HERE. Here you will find regular updates on the construction work and you will be able to ask questions and leave comments of our team to respond to.

View the Proposed Site Plan (pdf) HERE

View the Ground Floor Plan (pdf) HERE

View Building Elevations (pdf) HERE


Feedback regarding the Lakeside Discovery Centre is always welcome and can be submitted via email at

Any updates will be provided on this site as they come to hand.


Stay up-to-date with our latest e-Motion Stakeholder Newsletters HERE.

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