Puffing Billy... A Bond between Past and Present
Culture and heritage always attract human minds and its roots give blood to our growth. No doubt life moves every moment in the future but still past play its role to shape our present as well future. Many things of the past can be reason for making our life more beautiful and worth living. Puffing Billy’s steam rail is one of those things of past that are worth being preserved forever. I visited this dreamland during my visit to Melbourne in June, 2010. It was really a wonderful and memorable experience. It is railway track of 24 km running through dense and beautiful forest. Volunteers of Puffing Billy Preservation Society are putting their efforts to ensure the continued preservation and operation of the historic narrow gauge steam railway between Belgrave and Gembrook. Built in 1900, Puffing Billy is Australia's oldest steam railway. On the 18th December 1900, this narrow-gauge railway was opened to serve the farmers in the area to transport their goods to the markets in Melbourne.
Belgrave, the gateway to Dandenong Rangesis situated 35 km east of Melbourne. Metro train service is available from Melbourne city to Belgrave via Ringwood. Belgrave is the primary starting point of this railway. Operations and administration centre, main refreshment room (also selling souvenirs) and ticket purchasing are located at Belgrave station.
Most trains start from Belgrave and travel to Lakeside and returns. Except Christmas Day the railway operates every day of the year. One service each day has the option of first-class carriages and lunch.
Open-sided carriages add more fascination to travel experience as you feel more close to forest and nature. However, there are also a number of enclosed carriages, both saloon and compartment cars. Menzies Creek, Clematis, Emerald, Nobelius, Lakeside, Wright,Cockatoo, Fielder are main railway stations between Belgrave and Gembrook. Near Menzies Creek station, there is a narrow-gauge railway museum. Emerald is a good place to stop off and eat and Lakeside a good place to have a walk. Emrald is also destination as well departure point of many trains of Puffing Billy.Travelling on Puffing Billy train is like recapturing the romance and charm of the bygone days of steam engine era.
Puffing Billy steam rail takes you through dense and beautiful forest of dandenong hill ranges and you feel like moving in some dreamland. It’s really worth visiting again and again.
© 2010 Jaspal Singh