The journey aboard Puffing Billy takes you through the magnificent Dandenong Ranges, located only one hour east of Melbourne.
With lush fern gullies brushing past and Mountain Ash trees towering overhead, Puffing Billy makes for a wonderful opportunity to relax and breathe in the fresh air whilst the train makes its way through the temperate rainforest.
Puffing Billy continues to run on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook in the magnificent Dandenong Ranges 40 kilometres east of Melbourne.
The journey in detail
Start exploring the Puffing Billy journey by expanding sections below!
Belgrave is the first station on the Puffing Billy train line. All Puffing Billy trains will commence their journeys at Belgrave and travel to Lakeside or Gembrook. Passengers may choose to start their journey at either Belgrave or Lakeside Stations.
Belgrave station is the headquarters of the Railway, with both operating and administrative facilities. Passengers can visit the refreshment room for souvenirs, food and beverages. Belgrave is also home to our Locomotive Running Shed & Workshop. This where storage, maintenance and restorations take place on the Puffing Billy family of locomotives.
Picnic facilities, toilets (incl. accessible toilet), and parenting rooms are available at the station. The Belgrave township is only a short walk away and has an abundance of shopping and dining options.
Please note that there is no parking available for passengers on Old Monbulk Road, next to Belgrave Station. THIS IS A DROP OFF POINT ONLY.
Rail distance from Melbourne: 41.8km (26 miles). Altitude 227.7m (747 feet).
When Puffing Billy opened on 18 December 1900, Belgrave was not the starting point of the line. Puffing Billy's journey commenced in Upper Ferntree Gully - today, part of the suburban train line to Belgrave.
Prior to Puffing Billy's reopening from Belgrave to Menzies Creek on 28 July 1962, a new station precinct was developed in Belgrave.
Passengers starting their journey at Belgrave Station will experience Puffing Billy’s most famous landmark - the iconic Monbulk Creek trestle bridge.
The famous timber bridge of 15 spans, now classified by the National Trust of Victoria, carries the Railway over Monbulk Creek and the main Gembrook Road. It is 91.4m (300 feet) long, 12.8m (42 feet) high. The car park below is a popular place for viewing and photographing the train.
Opened in 1904, this station (seen to the left of the train) served the nearby village, named after a local landowner.
In 1953, a landslide closed the Railway. A remnant of the old track may be seen to the left of the train. Before the line was closed, a water tank for the locomotives was located here.
On a clear day, extensive views to Port Phillip Bay can be seen to the right of the train on the approach to Menzies Creek Station.
From Belgrave Station, Menzies Creek is a 30 minute train ride one way. This journey is ideal for the tour group market wanting a short journey, however, this must be pre-booked with the Customer Service Centre.
Easily accessible for coaches to pick up and drop off visitors. Trips from this station to Belgrave can also be taken.
Menzies Creek is the first stop after Belgrave and destination for many tour groups. Trains in opposite directions often ‘cross’ here. As Puffing Billy is a single rail line, it is only at stations such as Menzies Creek, where you can view trains pass by.
6km (3.75 miles) from Belgrave. Altitude 303.6 m (996 feet).
After Puffing Billy reopened in 1962, Menzies Creek Station was the terminus for three years until preservationists reopened the line to Emerald.
Menzies Creek was named after an early miner who lived in the area. The station's name was changed to Aura in 1904, and then back to Menzies Creek in 1947.
The town's main industries have been as diverse as gold (circa 1850), timber cutting and farming (1870 onwards).
After more than 10 years of building, collecting and researching Railway items from a bygone era, Puffing Billy Railway's much anticipated Menzies Creek Museum opened on Monday 24 February, 2020.
The new historic museum covers a space of 1160 square metres and houses over 80 exhibits, including rare operational steam and diesel locomotives, carriages and a rail tractor, as well as an operational boiler house that services steam engines, fluid pumps and 500 brake horsepower generators.
FREE for all train ticket holders, passengers can now explore the newly opened museum either before or after their steam train ride on Puffing Billy.
Those wishing to visit the museum as a non-train traveller are also welcome along for FREE.
Adding to the atmosphere, the Menzies Creek Museum also contains a themed children’s play area and the Little Toot Café with plenty of hot and cold beverages and sweet and savoury food items available to enjoy.
On a clear day, extensive views to Port Phillip Bay, Arthurs Seat and Westernport may be seen to the right of the train. Also on the right and below is the Cardinia Reservoir, which provides water to the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
After crossing the Main Road, the train enters Paradise Valley, with pleasant farmland views. Kiwi fruit are grown on the vine plantation to the left of the train near Clematis station.
This is the highest station on the line. The station building is the only original station building that remains intact along the line.
Emerald offers shops, cafes, and bakeries. On the second Saturday of every month, a trip aboard the train to Emerald can be combined with a visit to the Emerald Hills Art Market. In the yard at Emerald is the Railway’s carriage repair workshop.
Picnic and toilet facilities may be found at the station, and in the nearby park.
9.7km (6 miles) from Belgrave. Altitude 318.5m (1045 feet)
The history behind Emerald's name is uncertain. Some say it came from the surrounding green hills, others say it came from the emeralds that were claimed to have been found in nearby creeks.
Emerald has blossomed in recent decades, with people moving into the hills for a relaxed lifestyle.
Named after the former Nobelius estates, this small wayside station on the right of the train is almost half way between Belgrave and Gembrook.
The siding and Packing Shed on the left of the train formerly served the once-extensive Nobelius & Co. nursery. From here, seedlings and plants were dispatched by rail to all parts of Australia and the world. ‘The Packing Shed’ has been restored as a rustic function and wedding venue and also plays host to Puffing Billy's popular evening dining event, Murder on the Puffing Billy Express.
Lakeside is the perfect destination for families! Located within Emerald Lake Park, Lakeside is the half-way point along the line to Gembrook and is a 60-minute ride from Belgrave station. Visitors may also choose to start their journey here, and take a return trip to Gembrook (approx. 40 minutes one-way).
BBQ facilities and picnic tables make this an ideal place to relax alongside the lake. Passengers can pack a picnic or purchase lunch from our station kiosk (Lakeside Tearooms). Playground facilities, a wading pool (summer only) and paddle boats (for hire) are available to keep the kids entertained. The park is also offers several walking tracks, and an array of native and exotic plants and wildlife.
Lakeside was the terminus of the line before reopening to Gembrook in 1998. Trains usually pause here for the crew to fill the locomotive water tanks.
13.2km (8.25 miles) from Belgrave. Altitude 242m (795 feet).
Lakeside Station was the end of the Puffing Billy line for 23 years, from 1975 to 1998.
In 1998, the final section of the line between Lakeside and Gembrook was reopened to the public. Looking back at the small platform and name board, which were the only station objects when Lakeside was built in 1944, it is safe to say that Lakeside has grown!
Between Wright and Cockatoo Creek, the Railway skirts the northern boundary of the un-spoilt Wright State Forest, with large stands of Stringy Bark and other eucalypt trees.
Between Wright and Cockatoo, the Railway crosses three timber bridges. The first, shortly after passing Wright, is of four spans and is 24.4m (80 feet) long and 7.6m (25 feet) high, over a small creek.
The second bridge is much larger, with 10 spans, carrying the line over a deep gully. It is 61m (200 feet) long and 15.2m (50 feet) high.
Further down the valley, the third bridge has 10 straight spans, over Cockatoo Creek. It is 45.7m (150 feet) long and 4.6m (15 feet) high. Cockatoo Creek is the lowest point on the line between Belgrave and Gembrook and marks the start of a steep (1 in 30) uphill climb for 5.2km (3.25 miles) to the highest point on the line near Gembrook.
Originally named Cockatoo Creek, this station was an important loading place for the timber from sawmills in the region. The name was later shortened to Cockatoo to commemorate the abundance of Cockatoos that can be seen in the area.
Timber from nearby sawmills was brought to this station and potatoes were also loaded onto the railway at Cockatoo.
17.3km (10.8 miles) from Belgrave: Altitude 188.7m (619 feet).
Named after local land-owners, this is another typical wayside station that can be seen to the left of the train.
Gembrook Station is the last stop on the Puffing Billy line, with the line being reopened between Lakeside and Gembrook in 1998.
The train ride from Belgrave to Gembrook Station takes approx. one hour and 50 minutes one way, or just 40 minutes from Lakeside.
Stroll along one of the signposted walks in town, as well as the Avenue of Honour that commemorates local soldiers' sacrifice during the Second World War.
Several dining options are available within the township. Picnic and BBQ facilities are also provided at the station and in the adjacent park. Trains usually stop over for an hour or more for visitors to explore the historic town before their return trip. Our refreshment room can be visited for souvenirs, food and beverages.
On the fourth Sunday of every month, a trip to Gembrook aboard the train can be easily combined with a visit to the Gembrook Market.
Gembrook was once a busy centre for the dispatch of timber and farm produce from the district.
24km (15 miles) from Belgrave. Altitude 311.8m (1020 feet).
Gembrook served as a busy centre for the transport of timber and farm produce from the district to Melbourne.
The township also attracted visitors escaping the city's summer heat.
First settled in 1873, Gembrook's name derived from the discovery of gemstones in the area. Later, the town's timber industry flourished until a devastating bushfire in 1939 destroyed most of the timber area.
As a result, the line carried mainly potatoes from Gembrook and Cockatoo and visitors from the city until the closure in 1953. The line reopened to Gembrook in 1998.