During my initial days in Melbourne, I had started exploring the places around the city. I loved going out from the Melbourne city and visiting various parts of Victoria. And during one of these visits, I found the Puffing Billy steam train. One day trip to Puffing Billy from Melbourne is a great way to spend a day out of the busy city. It is also a way to transport in time where steam engine railways were happening.
Melbourne is surrounded by some amazingly beautiful places such as Yarra Valley, Philip Island, Mount Bishop and Mount Buller. Ranging from mountains to the beautiful coastal towns, the city is blessed with great weekend getaways. Are you looking for ideas for one day trips from Melbourne? Then head over to the section, One day trips from Melbourne.
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About Puffing Billy
One of the best steam engines in the world is the Puffing Billy steam train. Nestled in the Dandenong ranges of Victoria state in Australia, the Puffing Billy steam train is a narrow gauge heritage railway. Running from Belgrave to Gembrook stations on the foothills of Dandenong ranges, this train is a very popular touristy thing to do when in Melbourne.
Belgrave is a town located in the Dandenong ranges and is part of the Wurundjeri first nations people. The town is named after the chapel in Leeds, England. Dandenong ranges is home to many beautiful walks and hikes, such as the 1000 steps in the Kokoda Track Memorial.
The train runs every day except Christmas Day for up to six services each day. The train runs between Belgrave and Gembrook. However, the train does have stops at Emerald or Lakeside train stations. The tickets cost AUD 53 per adult for a journey from Belgrave to Gembrook and the tickets can be purchased online or at the office at Belgrave. Note that the ticket cost is cheaper if the journey is short.
The best time to visit the Puffing Billy is during the weekdays as it is very crowded over the weekends. When I visited Puffing Billy, we were allowed to sit by the carriage windows with our feet dangling outside. However, this is completely banned now.
Every year there is a Puffing Billy Running festival hosted on a Sunday in May. The Great Train Race, part of the festival, is a trail where runners run against the Puffing Billy steam train. The trail starts at Belgrave and has different levels of 2 kilometres to 25 kilometres. It is an annual fundraiser for the Puffing Billy Preservation society.
How to get to Puffing Billy?
Belgrave is around 45 kilometres from Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) and takes only 45 minutes by road. The route is via M1 and has toll roads.
Belgrave station (starting point) is one of the places in Victoria that is easily accessible by public transport. There are frequent trains between Southern cross station in Melbourne to Belgarve station. The train journey is around one hour 10 minutes and the cost for one way is around AUD 4.50 per adult. For up to date information on train timings and fare, refer Public Transport Victoria (PTV) website.
One Day Trip to Puffing Billy
Even though Puffing Billy trip can easily be done with a registered tour provider, there are still many tour agencies that run one day tours to Puffing Billy from Melbourne. These tours are usually combined with some of the trails in Dandenong Ranges. I visited Puffing Billy on a bus tour from Melbourne. The tour provider was Tours to go and the cost of the one day tour was around AUD 79 per adult.
The tour includes the pick up and drop at Federation square in Melbourne and the ticket price for the train ride. Other than visiting the Puffing Billy steam train, the tour also stopped at places like Sherbrooke Forest and Sassafras along the way.
Other places to see
Another interesting place that you can visit from Melbourne is the Sovereign Hill.
Menzies Creek museum
The Menzies creek museum, opened in the year 2020, is a museum exhibiting the collection of railway items, including the rare operational steam and diesel locomotives. The entry into the museum is free for the train ticket holders and the museum is located at Menzies Creek station.
The Sherbrooke forest is a rainforest containing a large population of Eucalyptus. The tallest tree recorded in the forest is around 92 metres. It is also famous for spotting the lyrebirds as the forest has a large number of them nesting. I did not see a lyrebird in Sherbrooke forest but I did see a lot of cockatoos (one of Australian’s native birds).
Sassafras is part of Greater Melbourne and is a township around 43 kilometres from Melbourne CBD. The town is famous to buy souvenirs, antiques and crafts. It also retains its 19th century charm. According to 2016 Census, there are only a little over 1000 people in the town.
Ensure to pick up a colourful souvenir in the town.
Safety for solo female travelers
Australia is generally very safe for solo female travelers and so is Victoria. I traveled to many places including Belgrave alone and had no issues whatsoever. However, like any other place, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at nights.
Are you new to solo travel or want to solo travel but have a lot of questions? Read frequently asked questions for solo traveling.
Puffing Billy steam train is definitely a fun thing to do when visiting Melbourne. It is one of its kind and the vibes for the train journey is amazing. I highly recommend taking this journey along with visiting the Sherbrooke forest and Sassafras.
For other things to do in Melbourne, read 9 things to do in Melbourne.
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