Tuesday 4 October 2011

Into the Hills on Puffing Billy

In all my travel writing about Melbourne and its environs, I've rarely written about the iconic Puffing Billy steam train (except for entries in my two iPhone/iPad apps, Melbourne Historical and Melbourne Getaways).

In fact I'd only ever been on the train once, and that was in the dining car for a limited distance. So it was time to enjoy the trip the way the average punter does - in one of the open-sided carriages that are pulled by steam power through the attractive greenery of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne.

It was pretty chilly when we arrived at the narrow-gauge station at Belgrave, with the cool air highlighting the smoke and vapour from the steam engine:

Here's a shot of me in the engine:

And here's the gent who was actually driving the thing:

And we're off! First challenge was to take a decent snap of the train as it curved around and crossed this trestle bridge:

A brief stop at Menzies Creek meant a photo op for these tourists:

It was a very cold ride that day - but the open-sided carriages were a huge plus for photography (and also meant that kids could sit with their legs hanging out the sides of the train if they wanted to). Some beautiful green scenery on the way:

On our way back from Emerald we got to join the attractive dining carriage which was on the return leg of the daily Steam and Cuisine lunch service. Here's Narrelle:

Back at Belgrave at the end of the trip, I realised the First Class dining carriages were each named after a station on the former Tasmanian mining railway which is now known as the West Coast Wilderness Railway (and you can see my blog post from that journey here):

From Belgrave, it was a short dash up the walkway connecting the narrow gauge station to the mainline Belgrave suburban station, then onto an electric train for the trip back to the centre of Melbourne. Faster, certainly, but not as much fun as Puffing Billy.

Disclosure time: On this trip I was hosted by the Puffing Billy Railway. Find details of its timetable and fares by clicking here.

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