The ultimate guide to Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy train on trestle bridge


Posted April 05, 2023

Step back in time at one of Australia’s oldest and best-preserved heritage steam railways, Puffing Billy, situated in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

With lush fern gullies brushing past your open side carriage and Mountain Ash trees towering overhead, the whole family will love riding the Puffing Billy steam train on your next weekend trip or school holidays excursion.

Read on to learn how to make the most of a day out at Puffing Billy Railway, from which route to take to the special events you won’t want to miss out on!

Best of all, RACV Members save on Puffing Billy Railway tickets.

Everything you need to know about Puffing Billy

What is Puffing Billy?

Puffing Billy Railway is an historic heritage steam railway built in 1900 that still carries passengers through the heart of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

In the 1900s, this railway delivered passengers, mail, livestock, timber, potatoes and plants between Melbourne and the small communities living in the Dandenong Ranges. Riding on these historic locomotives today, you’ll be able to smell the steam from the train’s chimney and hear each blast of the train’s whistle. The open-side carriages give you amazing views of the hills, valleys, temperate rainforests, and timber trestle bridges, and depending on which journey you opt for, the chance to dangle your legs from the carriage during the journey!


old photo of the original mixed freight Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy was built in 1900. Image: Puffing Billy Railway

Where does Puffing Billy go?

There are four main routes to choose from on the Puffing Billy Railway.

Belgrave to Menzies Creek return

2-hour experience: 25-minute train ride each way & 1 hour at Menzies Creek

The Belgrave to Menzies Creek return journey departs from Belgrave station, which is the very start of the Puffing Billy Railway line. You will enjoy a stunning 25-minute train journey through Sherbrooke Forest, a gorgeous rainforest renowned for its native Mountain Ash trees, and over the iconic curved timber Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge.

Your one-hour stop is at Menzies Creek station, where you can grab a coffee and morning tea from the Little Toot Café and explore the free Menzies Creek Museum. The museum displays Puffing Billy Railway’s rich history, with over 80 exhibits including rare operational steam and diesel locomotives.

Lakeside to Gembrook return

3-hour experience: 45-minute train ride each way & 1 hour at Gembrook

The Lakeside to Gembrook return journey departs from the picturesque Lakeside station within Emerald Lake Park. Arrive early to enjoy the park, including Lake Treganowan and Lake Nobelius, fern gullies, open eucalypt forests, and many native and exotic plants. Or simply stop in at the Lakeside Visitor Centre for a small bite to eat at the Railway Café and a look at the Visitor Centre’s free museum in the Lakeside Hall.

From Lakeside, you’ll ride on Puffing Billy through Wright Forest, which is rich with tall, fragrant eucalypt trees. Puffing Billy will then cross three historic trestle bridges before chugging through rolling hills and farmland. The 45-minute train journey stops at Gembrook for one hour, a small and quaint town tucked in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. Here, you can dine and shop along the main street, have a picnic in Gembrook Park with a pre-purchased Puffing Railway Billy Grazing Box, or visit the Motorist Museum by appointment to see vintage and classic cars.

Belgrave to Lakeside return

4-hour experience: 1-hour train ride each way & 2 hours at Emerald Lake Park

The Belgrave to Lakeside return journey departs from Belgrave Station and delivers a 1-hour train journey through Sherbrooke Forest and over the iconic curved timber Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge.

When you arrive at Lakeside station within Emerald Lake Park, there is plenty to do. If you have booked the Devonshire Tea package, home-baked lemonade scones served with Yarra Valley jam and cream plus a choice of Ranges coffee or loose-leaf tea will be waiting for you at the Railway Café.

While at Lakeside, explore the Lakeside Visitor Centre, including the historic steam artifact displays in Lakeside Hall and the photographic exhibition Animal Tales. Then meander through Emerald Lake Park, which boasts two lakes, several walking trails through gardens and bushland, and vintage Paddleboats that you can rent to ride on Lake Treganowan. Don’t miss the Emerald Lake Model Railway & Miniature World, one of the largest model railways in Australia.

Belgrave to Gembrook return

6-hour experience: 1 hour 50-minute train ride each way & 1 hour at Gembrook

The Belgrave to Gembrook return journey departs from Belgrave station. This tour features the longest train journey through Sherbrooke Forest and the Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge (1 hour and 50 minutes). You’ll then pass through Wright Forest.

Like the Lakeside to Gembrook journey, this train ride adventure stops at Gembrook where you can dine and shop along the main street, have a grazing box picnic in Gembrook Park, or visit the Motorist Museum by appointment.

After an hour exploring Gembrook, you’ll catch Puffing Billy back to Belgrave station.


Puffing Billy train on trestle bridge with steam billowing

Puffing Billy has four routes to choose from. Image: Visit Victoria

Can I sit on Puffing Billy’s carriage sills?

Both adult and child passengers can sit on Puffing Billy Railway’s carriage sills with their legs hanging out. Children aged between 4-13 years must be supervised by an adult. Children under 4 years of age are not permitted to sit on the carriage sills.

Sitting on the carriage sill is only permitted on Belgrave to Lakeside station journeys. 

How do I get to Puffing Billy?

Puffing Billy Railway travels through the Dandenong Ranges, just one hour east of Melbourne.

If you are departing from Puffing Billy Railway’s Belgrave station, you can park at the Woolworths Belgrave carpark, Belgrave Car Park at 2 Bayview Road, or Belgrave Town off the Burwood highway on Hillside Court. People with accessibility requirements can use the drop-off zone at Gate 4. The Metro Belgrave Station car park is currently being upgraded and will offer hundreds of carparks upon completion.

You can also catch public transport to Puffing Billy Railway. Simply catch the Belgrave train line from Melbourne CBD, or the 693 Oakleigh to Belgrave bus service via Ferntree Gully and Brandon Park. Both stop at the Metro Belgrave Station, where you can follow the blue line painted on the platform for a two-minute walk to Puffing Billy Railway.

If you are departing from Puffing Billy Railway’s Lakeside station, you can park at the Lakeside Visitor Centre on Emerald Lake Road. There are 110 parking spots available at a $6 flat fee per day. Public transport is limited to Lakeside.


kids aboard Puffing Billy

Kids young and old will enjoy Puffing Billy. Image: Visit Victoria

How much are Puffing Billy tickets?

Ticket prices for Puffing Billy range depending on which trip you select. You can check the Puffing Billy’s timetable here. If you’re an RACV Member, you can save on Puffing Billy tickets.

Please note that all tickets must be pre-booked online.

Can I bring food and drink on Puffing Billy?

You can eat and drink on Puffing Billy Railway – just take your rubbish with you at your next stop. You can bring your own food and drink or purchase takeaway options, such as at the Menzies Creek Museum and the Lakeside Visitor Centre Railway Café.

You can also pre-purchase delectable grazing boxes with your train tickets to collect at Lakeside and picnic in style. Alternatively, you can sit in the Lakeside Visitor Centre Railway Café for a scrumptious menu filled with seasonal produce.

Is Puffing Billy suitable for children?

Many children ride Puffing Billy Railway every day. Baby change facilities are available at all stations, and a microwave for warming bottles and baby food is also available in the baby change room at Belgrave Station. Volunteers in the refreshment rooms at other stations can also assist you to warm bottles and baby food.

Please note that only narrow or folding prams can travel on Puffing Billy because of the heritage carriage doors.

Can dogs ride Puffing Billy?

On normal Puffing Billy train rides, only certified assistance dogs are allowed aboard.

The Puffing Billy Dog Express welcomes your furry friends aboard on special train journeys from Lakeside Station to Gembrook. Enjoy lunch at the Lakeside Visitor Centre’s Railway Café, where dogs are welcome in the outdoor dining area, and take a walk in the Emerald Lake Park before hopping aboard the train and enjoying the 40-minute ride to Gembrook together.


dog looking out the window of Puffing Billy

Dogs can take a ride on Puffing Billy aboard the Dog Express. Image: Puffing Billy Railway

Can people with accessibility needs ride Puffing Billy?

People with accessibility needs can enjoy a Puffing Billy train ride. The pathways to Belgrave, Lakeside and Gembrook stations, as well as the Lakeside Visitor Centre, are all wheelchair accessible. Emerald Lake Park also features many wheelchair-friendly paths and ramps. There are accessible toilets at Belgrave, Lakeside and Gembrook stations.

Ramps are available to aid boarding onto Puffing Billy’s accessible carriages. These ramps have a wheelchair width of 75cm. To pre-book these carriages, contact Puffing Billy Railway’s customer service on 03 9757 0700 or email

Companion card holders travel free of charge onboard Puffing Billy’s daily train journeys, and their client (with an Australian Government issued concession or healthcare card) pays a concession fare.


Puffing Billy accessible carriage with wheelchair ramp

Ramps are available for accessible carriages on Puffing Billy. Image: Puffing Billy Railway

What events does Puffing Billy host?

Puffing Billy Railway hosts several fun events throughout the year, including:

  • Puffing Billy’s Train of Lights – a mesmerising light show during a special night-time train journey.

  • The Polar Express – a Christmas event that takes passengers on an adventure to the Lakeside Visitor Centre’s North Pole, complete with the chance to visit Santa Claus himself.

  • Day Out With Thomas – ride on an interactive train journey from Lakeside to Cockatoo with Thomas the Tank Engine, plus his friends James, Diesel and Sir Topham Hatt. 

  • Murder on the Puffing Billy Express – dress up in your best flapper clothes and enjoy a three-course meal, with an entrée served aboard Puffing Billy and the rest of your meal at the Nobelius Packing Shed, where the mystery unfolds...

  • Puffing Billy Running Festival – this annual fun run pits man against machine. Race against Puffing Billy for the chance to claim a prize!


RACV Members save on Puffing Billy tickets.
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