Updated: Feb 20, 2020
Today I am going to share my one of the most excited and memorable experience - "Puffing Billy steam train ride". The Puffing Billy Railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne, Australia.
Imagine a steam train, which is travelling through the pristine forests with the whistles echoing through the hills and smoke from the engine rising high in the sky, those feelings of excitement as we cross the historical timber trestle bridges while sitting in an open carriage and breathing the fresh air, childishly waving to every passer-by at platform/ railway crossings.
Isn’t that exciting to experience such extraordinary moments? Yes, indeed!
THE HISTORY OF PUFFING BILLY:
The Puffing Billy Railway was constructed in Victoria in the early 1900s to open remote areas. The present line is between Belgrave and Gembrook. It is the major part of the line which opened on 18 December 1900. The 18.2 mile (29km) Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook narrow gauge line was always a scenic attraction to the people of Melbourne, who began travelling on excursion trains for day trips and weekend holidays in the hills during the railway’s earliest years.
In 1953, a landslide blocked the track, and because of operating losses, the line was officially closed in 1954.
The present-day success of Puffing Billy has evolved from the humble beginnings of its rescue by determined members of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, which was formed due to the public interest.
Volunteers with the blessings of the Victorian State Government and the assistance of the Citizens’ Military Forces, by-passed the landslide and reopened the line from Belgrave to Menzies Creek in 1962, Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975 and finally to Gembrook in October 1998.
Restorations, reconstructions, general works and new developments conform to specifications based on detailed research into the period 1900 – 1930.
In simple terms, everything that is part of the scene of the Railway i.e. from locomotives and rolling stock to buildings, fencing, signs, furniture, etc. and even staff clothing, are the representative of the Railway, or of the Victorian Railways generally, as it operated in the 1900 – 1930 period. The aim is to take the visitor “back in time” as it were.
I would like to highlight one more point that I liked about Puffing Billy railway is that it's a "not for profit" and community-based organisation. Their friendly and passionate volunteers are instrumental to their success in the visitor industry in Victoria.