Arriving at the bus departure place, near “Fed Square’, Melbourne,I was not surprised to find many others had also signed up for a Puffing Billy day trip – it seems everyone loves a ride on a steam train.
My first driver, Ismet – who in the Aussie tradition has had his name babified/shortened to Issie – regaled us with local stories as we drove out of Melbourne and, as this was my first trip to the city, I valued the historical and current background context. He told of car museums, rich suburbs, soccer, wide streets; that the city has 32% of its land in sports fields and gardens, and explained the thirty-six ‘right-hand hooks’ – the unusual but elegant solution to keep the trams moving in the city.
As well as the Puffing Billy trip, other activities on the day included a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary, Billy Tea, riding through forest and little towns and for those who wanted to, feeding colourful Rosellas and King Parrots; chocolate, wine tasting and a roast dinner – the day covered them all. (But more about those topics in another blog)
We boarded the Puffing Billy at Belgrave for our short trip (about 30 mins I think) in the Dandenong Ranges, but first its seemed all passengers took many, many photos of the fire-fueled steam engines.
This line, built in the early 1900s, helped open up the area and carried logs, livestock, and other goods it now carries about a million and a half tourists annually: it is mostly staffed by volunteers. Running every day except Christmas Day, of course it is also closed on high temperature-high fire risk days for fear of starting a bush fire – a wise precaution.
Our Grayline tour had its own carriage and it seemed all the other carriages were full too – I said, seems all the world loves a steam train!
Here’s a slideshow for you – a few of the many photos I took on this little section of our day tour. (A friend had recommended I rode the Puffing Billy and I’m glad I took the advice)
Many thanks to Grayline for hosting me on this fun day.