Chugging its way through the rugged bushlands, fern gullies, and ancient woodlands of the Dandenong Ranges, the Puffing Billy Railway is one of Australia’s most scenic train journeys. The spectacular views of the Yarra Valley are just part of the experience—the historic steam engines, Victorian-style interiors, and open-air carriages that allow for dangling legs make it a fun and memorable activity for the whole family.
It’s possible to ride the Puffing Billy steam train in either direction, but most passengers start at Belgrave Station. From there, it’s 15 miles (25 kilometers) or 1 hour and 50 minutes one-way to Gembrook Station, with passage over the Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge and stops at Menzies Creek, Emerald, Lakeside, and Cockatoo. Tours from Melbourne often combine a ride on the historic railway with other regional highlights such as the Healesville Sanctuary, wine tasting at Yarra Valley wineries, a Melbourne city tour, or a visit to Penguin Parade on Phillip Island.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tickets sell out, especially during the summer holidays, so book ahead to avoid disappointment.
- All stations have parking, restrooms, and a cafe or snack bar.
- Luggage space is limited, so bring a small day bag and opt for a fold-up stroller.
- Steam locomotives are sometimes replaced with diesel locomotives during Total Fire Ban (when dry weather increases the risk of forest fires).
- Wheelchair access is available at all stations, but spaces are limited and must be booked in advance.
How to Get There
The Puffing Billy Railway runs from Belgrave to Gembrook through the foothills of the Blue Dandenong Ranges in the Yarra Valley. The starting point of the railway is at Belgrave Station, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Melbourne. Trains run to Belgrave from Flinders Street Station in the city—just follow the blue line from Belgrave Station that leads to Puffing Billy Station, a short walk away. If you’re driving, it's around an hour's drive from downtown Melbourne.
When to Get There
The Puffing Billy Railway runs around four times daily, with both morning and afternoon departures from Belgrave. Trains run year-round, but they get crowded in summer, so it’s best to book ahead.
Special Events Aboard the Puffing Billy
For something more, book tickets for the special Steam & Cuisine journeys and dine aboard the century-old steam train, or enjoy a themed Jazz or Murder Mystery train ride by night. Those with kids in tow can treat the little ones to a Day out with Thomas, when Puffing Billy is transformed into Thomas the Tank Engine, or ride on the Santa Special Christmas trains.