Dangling All the Way on the Puffing Billy

by - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trains fascinate me and for some reason, I have always enjoyed watching trains, with its long body connected by a line of coaches (or containers for the cargo trains) running on their jagged tracks in a uniform motion with that occasional puffs from its chimney and the accompanying "chuff chuff" sound.

I have always imagined sitting near the window, looking outside that window as the trees and plains just seem to run along with the train and the world just seems to be on the move, with me.
It is a lovely picture and the feeling is just, wonderful.

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I even remembered when there were some parts in the country where the railway tracks would run across and meet the highway at intersection points (or it is actually the other way round; for the highways are built in areas where these rails used to run).
Cars would need to stop when the barricade is being put down and then there are lights and clanging bells to signal that the train is on its way.
The cars crossing the road would be held in a queue, waiting patiently while the train passes by.
It was an interesting watch as I sat in my dad's car back then, waiting and then watching the train passes us by.

I used to own a train set too; a full set of steam train complete with its railway tracks which is detachable for storage purpose, but when fully assembled forms a intertwining pattern of a track which is shaped like the number 8.
The trains run along these tracks on batteries; complete with the lights and the puffing steam from its chimney.
It was my prized possession; I just love every bit of this set and I would often set it on the floor in the living room, sitting there and just watch the train in motion.
I particularly love the chugging sounds and the steam puffs; which I think may just be the best features of the train and probably the main reasons behind my fixation on these steam locomotives.

Do you remember the famous Thomas the Tank Engine? (Who wouldn't know this anyway)
Thomas is a cute little blue train with red linings and the number one printed on its body which quickly became one of the most well-loved fictional cartoon characters ever, and this very character just adds to anchor that love and fascination I have with trains.

It is definitely one of the most animated depiction of the steam locomotives and continue to remind the young generation of these steam predecessors of trains.

It is not easy to find these steam locomotives these days, and based on my fascination with them, one could only imagine my excitement when I was told that the plan for the day would be taking a train ride.

I literally squealed and jiggled around! (I might have even danced a bit).

I just could not contain my joy and excitement when I heard of this next exciting adventure I was about to enjoy on my trip.

Just a short distance away from the city of Melbourne, tucked away in the Dandenong ranges is the well-preserved heritage railway of the Puffing Billy Railway.

Measuring 2 ft 6 in (762mm) in dimension, the Puffing Billy Railway is one of the five narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railway and is one of the most renowned heritage railways in the world.

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Post preservation efforts are actively pursued by the Puffing Billy Preservation Society; mainly by the volunteers although the conservation efforts require much attention to the maintenance throughout the year and engagement of labor through monetary funds is in place as well to keep the heritage up and running.

Much of the preservation efforts are made to maintain the train at its optimum; as close as possible to its early days, approximately the first three decades of operations though particularly in the 1920s when the train first started.

I boarded the train at its main station; Belgrave station which was also the starting point of the railway; where the administration, operations, refreshment, souvenir centre and ticket purchasing are all made available and based on this location.

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Make the most of your Puffing Billy Experience!~


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The most attractive feature of the Puffing Billy, and the way to ride it?

The Puffing Billy trains are designed with an open window concept; and one can simply just sit on the ledges of these open windows and put your legs out there, DANGLING!~

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Yes, that's the way to enjoy the Puffing Billy, I was told.

Now I am not really the adventurous type, and it took a bit of convincing for me to do that, despite me knowing about this feature beforehand.

(Guess I was just a little too prim and proper, way more than I thought).


I was still standing at the early part of the journey
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I finally did it though; and it was really fun!

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One just needs to let their hair down once in a while; and in the Puffing Billy case, it is about letting your legs out and keep them dangling there!

Bolder and enjoying it!
I can't believe I did that, my Mummy would be proud :-)
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The gorgeous scenery along the way, and we even had friendly locals waving back at us from their houses as the train passed by and some from their cars as they stopped at the railway crossing.
It was a lovely experience.

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I just could not get enough of the train shots! 
Sorry for the overload ~
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I would recommend wearing gloves, or keeping one's hands in the pockets for the chill from the wind almost froze my fingers and while I enjoyed the cool wind blowing at my face, it was quite numbing after a while!

My story/experience on the Puffing Billy
There was an interesting experience I had when boarding the Puffing Billy train from the Belgrave station.
The carriages were all subject to an open concept and since there were only two of us, we just picked a random carriage which seemed vacant and hopped on; ready and excited to start our experience while waiting for the train to start.
There was a group of people on the same carriage as us, and we did not realize it at first but they kept casting their glances towards our way.
Perhaps it was due to our excitement that made us oblivious to their stares but it soon became really apparent and we were a little uncomfortable, though we shrugged it off and continued to take our photos to capture the memories on this lovely train (did I mention I really love trains?)

Then there was this lady who just turned and asked me, "Are you in a group? We are in this tour group"
It was as though we were questioned our presence on this particular carriage just because we were not in the tour group.
Then we watched how another man; presumably the tour guide, who was talking to the conductor near our carriage in a really loud voice (not sure if it was intended for our hearing) if they can allow people not belonging to tour groups to board the carriage, for there were two strangers on the carriage; i.e us, I assume?
Well, well, it was really getting rather interesting.

The interesting part was the conductor answering him, "No, there is no issue. This is a public train and all the carriages are open to anyone".

Well said, sir.

It was not really a bad experience, but just a little taken aback by the way the group behaved towards two ladies.
I was not really mad nor annoyed; and surprisingly, I found the whole incident really amusing.
In my opinion, I would think that they were just concerned about the number of their tour members and that they ought to stick together.
It is not really a wrong mindset, for after all, it is the responsibility of the tour company to maintain the safety of their tour participants; who are really their customers.
I could understand that, though it could have been resolved in a more amicable manner rather than using intimidation to force other tourists from enjoying their experiences on the same train.

I think they could have just asked us nicely.

Anyway, thankfully, I was just unperturbed by the whole thing because it was just not worth sacrificing my lovely Puffing Billy experience.

I was right; this is definitely my most memorable train experience and I think I am definitely going to board it again and again if I had my way!

We bought our tickets for a full one-way trip, all the way to the last station and that meant stopping at stations.
(Thankfully the group left at the first station)

Menzies Creek
There is a museum on the narrow gauge railway at this station; displaying exhibits on the heritage.

On the empty train during the intermission
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Arriving at Emerald, the last station of our journey
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I was quite sad to see that it was the end of our one and a half hour ride
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With Mr Conductor!
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I am missing the Puffing Billy experience as I write this, and I think it's obvious that I really enjoyed the train ride and everything to do with the Puffing Billy.

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One of the most valuable experience the Puffing Billy taught me?

Just let go of oneself once in a while, and go with the flow!

Dangle your legs out there and just live to enjoy the experience, wherever the wind takes you!
(Of course, needless to say, with caution and not endangering oneself for this is still a moving train).

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This is probably the best (and favorite) part of my trip!~



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Address
1 Old Monbulk Rd, Belgrave VIC 3160, Australia

Operating Hours
Monday-Friday: 9.00am-5.00pm
Saturday: 9.30am-12.30pm (Half Day)
Closed on Sundays

Phone: +61 3 9757 0700


Visit the Puffing Billy website here for more information on the train schedules and updated ticket fares.



*Note: 
This is not a sponsored post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. Experiences vary from one individual to another.





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