Puffing Billy travels daily through a valuable corridor consisting of scenic bushland and native wildlife. The landscape and environment is a scenic asset of the Railway and is recognised as being an essential part of its experience for visitors.
The land has a mix of both natural and cultural values including re-growth of native flora species of the forest. Not only do the trees add to the scenery, they also serve as natural homes for the local wildlife that use the corridor and surrounding land reserves.
As the train leaves Belgrave and crosses over the historic Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge, it reveals picturesque scenes of ferny forest glades, tall mountain gums, panoramic rural valleys, rolling green hills along the whole corridor until the end of the line at Gembrook. Other scenic views that are visible while enjoying the ride include, the Dandenong Ranges, Cardinia Reservoir, Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay.
Puffing Billy Railway intersects and runs adjacent to several creeks between Belgrave and Gembrook. At the iconic Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge site between Belgrave and Selby, the railway line aerially crosses Monbulk Creek (pictured below, on right) and the corridor forms part of the Monbulk Creek Catchment. The railway also crosses Muddy Creek then runs roughly parallel to Menzies Creek. Further along the track, immediately east of Cockatoo Township, the railway crosses Cockatoo Creek.
Since 2008 Puffing Billy Railway has been working with Melbourne Water to improve three stream frontage sites along the railway through stream frontage grants. Contractors and volunteers are working in conjunction with Puffing Billy Railway to manage weeds and plant vegetation at these sites to enhance the quality of the stream side habitat.
Puffing Billy Railway and SREA are working together to create a Waterways Management Plan to improve the quality of waterways within Puffing Billy land. This will help maintain the waterway by the assessment process for litter control, fencing, environmental impacts and identifying positive opportunities for streamside habitat.
Photo by Jessica Becher
Monbulk Creek under Trestle Bridge
Photo by Jessica Becher
Green Tracks Project
Puffing Billy Railway is working alongside SREA (Southern Ranges Environmental Alliance) on the Green Tracks Project with an aim to eradicate weeds and enhance the natural forest and reserves scenery along the Railway; while achieving the outcomes listed in the first year of the Puffing Billy Trackside Management plan 2012.
Objectives of the project include pest animal management, preservation of waterways, revegetation, biodiversity and habitat preservation and associating with the community.
The Green Tracks Project is a grant funded by the Communities of Nature. Click here for more information on Green Tracks.
The Puffing Billy Railway passes through sections of the Dandenong Ranges, Wright Forest and other reserves. The railway acts as a passage for local wildlife connecting onto neighbouring properties. There are areas along the Railway that contain significant bushland vegetation, which can be seen at Wright Forest. Monbulk Creek under Trestle Bridge Photo by Jessica Becher
Internal and external volunteer groups that operate within the Railway reserve are dedicated to raising awareness and commit to environmental works through weed management and revegetation efforts.
Revegetation activities along the corridor are complex and require cooperation and alignment with the Puffing Billy Railway objectives, regulations and legislations (Rail Safety Act and OH&S).
Find out more about the Flora at Puffing Billy Railway
As you travel on the train, keep your eyes open for the crimson rosella (pictured below, left), kookaburra (pictured below, right) and the purple swamphen who prefer to spend their time on the lake at Emerald Lake Park. One of our rare and very shy locals you may be fortunate to see is the Superb Lyrebird.
Puffing Billy Railway has a variety of native animal species along the line. Some shy mammals that call Puffing Billy Railway their home include: sugar gliders, brush-tailed possums, ring-tailed possums, bush rat, common wombat, koala, the short beaked echidna (pictured below, middle) and many more. There are several reptiles you may see on sunny days basking in the sun's rays; including blue tongue lizards, skinks and even brown snakes.
As stated previously, the purpose of revegetation and the waterways management plan is to help create a supportive and desirable environment for native animals that are found in the area, including the platypus which can be found in one of our creeks.
Currently Puffing Billy Railway and SREA have two projects in motion that are focused on animals. The first, a pest animal management plan to control the effects of introduced pest animal species (e.g. rabbits and foxes) along the Railway. This management plan will help reduce the impact that pest species have on the native species and their habitat. This in turn will improve the ability of native animals in the area to survive and reproduce, which is the focus of the second management plan.
The native fauna management plan is focused on attracting native species back into the area while reducing invading and competition from introduced pest species.
Find out more about the Fauna at Puffing Billy Railway.
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Susan Zentay
Short beaked Echidna.Photo by Jessica Becher
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Eliza Johnson