Puffing Billy is a well-preserved heritage railway, quite popular with tourists visiting Melbourne.
These trains run through the beautiful forests of Dandenong Ranges, approximately 50 Kms (31 Miles) East of Melbourne city.
A hundred years ago these trains served the local communities, carrying anything from passengers to timber, and today they are a favorite tourist activity.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before you get on to Puffing Billy.
Puffing Billy route
Puffing Billy Railway runs from Belgrave to Gembrook, through the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne, Australia.
The route of 24 Kms (15 Miles) is quite a challenge and involves sharp curves and steep climbs.
During the journey, the trains cross three trestle bridges and four level crossings.
The most famous landmark to be crossed on this Puffing Billy route is the iconic Monbulk Creek trestle bridge.
Puffing Billy stations
Puffing Billy Railway has six stations.
1. Belgrave Station
The first station on the Puffing Billy train route is Belgrave.
All Puffing Billy trains start their journeys at Belgrave, and their final destinations are either Lakeside station or Gembrook station.
Most people start their Puffing Billy experience from the Belgrave station.
The station has picnic facilities, regular toilets, accessible toilets, etc.
For shopping and additional dining options, you can always walk to the Belgrave township nearby.
2. Menzies Creek Station
Distance from Belgrave station: 6 Kms (3.75 Miles)
Menzies Creek is the first stop after Belgrave station.
When you approach this station on the right-hand side, you can see Port Phillip Bay.
Tour groups who prefer a quick exposure to Puffing Billy trains before they move on to other nearby activities get down at Menzies Creek Station.
If you are lucky, you may see a train coming from the opposite side at this station.
3. Emerald Station
Distance from Belgrave: 9.7 Kms (6 Miles)
Emerald Station’s building is the only original construction still in use along the Puffing Billy train line.
Emerald is a good stop for picnics, shops, cafes, and bakeries.
The Railway’s carriage repair workshop is at this station.
4. Lakeside Station (Emerald Lake Park)
Distance from Belgrave: 13.2 Kms (8.25 Miles)
The train starting at Belgrave reaches Lakeside station in 60 minutes.
Located within Emerald Lake Park, this location is apt for families.
BBQ facilities, picnic tables, fantastic lake views, paddle boats, and pools in summer make this stop worthwhile.
Therefore, some tourists start their Puffing Billy tour from the Lakeside station.
In 40 minutes, they can reach Gembrook and then get back in another 40 minutes.
5. Cockatoo Station
Distance from Belgrave: 17.3 Kms (10.8 Miles)
This station was earlier known as Cockatoo Creek.
In the initial days, this Puffing Billy station was used to load timber from sawmills in the area.
There is not much to see and explore here.
6. Gembrook Station
Distance from Belgrave: 24 Kms (15 Miles)
Gembrook is the last station on the Puffing Billy railway line.
A Puffing Billy starting from Belgrave station reaches the Gembrook Station in one hour and 50 minutes.
From Lakeside station, the train takes only 40 minutes to reach Gembrook.
The Billy trains usually stop for an hour or so to allow visitors to explore the small town.
The township has excellent, niche restaurants, and picnic and BBQ facilities as well.
From where to start Puffing Billy tour
For the best Puffing Billy train experience, you can start your tour from one of the two stations –
Address: 1 Old Monbulk Road, Belgrave, VIC 3160
Belgrave Station is the headquarters of Puffing Billy Railway and is right next to the Belgrave Township.
After the trains leave the Puffing Billy Belgrave station, they travel through the lush green Sherbrooke Forest and cross its most famous landmark – the iconic Monbulk Creek trestle bridge.
Address: Emerald Lake Road, Emerald, VIC 3782
Lakeside station is in Emerald Lake Park, Emerald.
Some tourists prefer to start their Puffing Billy experience from here because of the fun activities at Emerald.
However, since the last station from here is only 40 minutes it will be a short Puffing Billy experience.
We recommend you start from Belgrave.
How to get to Puffing Billy
Most of the tourists planning a tour of Puffing Billy Railway come from Melbourne.
Therefore, in this section we focus on how you can get to Puffing Billy from the city of Melbourne.
Melbourne to Puffing Billy
Puffing Billy Railway is in the Dandenong Ranges, 40 KMs (25 Miles) East of Melbourne.
From Melbourne, you can get to Puffing Billy in an hour, and your transport options are – Public transport, by car or as part of a day tour.
From Melbourne CBD get onto a Belgrave line train. In 70 minutes, you will reach the Belgrave Station.
The moment you get down, look for a blue line painted on the platform – follow this line, and after a quick 2-minutes’ walk you will reach Puffing Billy’s Belgrave Station.
Driving to Puffing Billy
As mentioned earlier, it is best if you start your Puffing Billy tour from either Belgrave station or the Lakeside station.
Finding a parking spot and then walking to the Puffing Billy stations can take at least half an hour.
This is why, it is advisable to reach the stations early.
Wherever you park, be mindful of the local Council parking restrictions.
Driving to Belgrave station
Melbourne to Belgrave station: 43 Kms (27 Miles)
Puffing Billy parking on the Belgrave station road isn’t possible.
However, there are lots of places nearby where you can park your vehicle.
We list some of the popular free car parking locations near Puffing Billy Belgrave.
Puffing Billy Car Park: This is a free car park, and the entry is via Belgrave – Gembrook Road.
You will need to get between new Belgrave Motors and the Metro Rail Bridge.
Belgrave CFA Car Park: You don’t have to pay anything to park your car here. The address is 2 Bayview Road, Belgrave VIC 3160.
Belgrave Metro Trains Car Park: Since this car park is used by commuters of the Metro train, it isn’t recommended for weekdays.
Woolworths Belgrave Car Park: You must enter via Reynolds lane, and park for free behind the main street shops. Parking restrictions may apply.
Driving to Lakeside station (Emerald)
Melbourne to Lakeside station: 56 Kms (35 Miles)
Access to the Lakeside station is via Emerald Lake Road.
Car parking: Here you will find parking spots within Emerald Lake Park, adjacent to Puffing Billy’s Lakeside station.
The local Council operates a ticket machine, which charges a flat 6 Australian dollars per day.
Our recommendation: It is best to book a Melbourne to Puffing Billy day tour. Such tours include hotel pick up and drop, and simplify all logistics for you so that you can focus on having fun. Check out the Puffing Billy tours
How long does Puffing Billy take?
Tourists ask this question for two reasons –
1. Visitors want to know how much ‘train time’ they will get on Puffing Billy
2. They want to know how long their Puffing Billy trip will last, which includes both the train journey and stay/activities at the station stops
Duration of Puffing Billy train journey
Your Puffing Billy train journey from Belgrave to Gembrook will take you 1 hour and 50 minutes.
If you plan to go only up to Lakeside, you need 60 minutes.
If you are going from Lakeside to Gembrook, the ride duration is 40 minutes.
Here is the station to station break up of how much time the train will take –
Belgrave to Menzies Creek: 30 minutes
Menzies Creek to Emerald: 20 minutes
Emerald to Lakeside: 10 minutes
Lakeside to Gembrook: 40 minutes
Duration of Puffing Billy trip
The duration of your Puffing Billy trip will depend on the section of the route you decide to travel.
Belgrave to Menzies Creek
You will be on the train for 30 minutes each way.
If you take the first train to Menzies Creek (reaches at 10.53 am), you must wait for at least two hours to get a train back to Belgrave.
The first train back from Menzies Creek is at 12.57 pm.
Thus, your return trip from Belgrave to Menzies Creek will be 3 hours long.
Belgrave to Lakeside
The train duration is one hour each way.
Your return trip from Belgrave to Lakeside will last three hours, with one hour spent at Emerald Lake Park.
Lakeside to Gembrook
Puffing Billy train will take 40 minutes each way.
You can spend approximately two hours exploring the Gembrook township, making it a three-and-a-half-hour trip.
Belgrave to Gembrook
This is the most extensive section of Puffing Billy Railway and takes 1 hour 50 mins both ways – so you get a total of three hours and forty minutes on the heritage train.
Plus, you get to spend two hours at Gembrook, stretching the duration of your tour to almost six hours.
Puffing Billy timetable
Before we share the Puffing Billy schedule, you must know that daily four trains start from Belgrave Station
The first train at 10.30 am, the second train at 11.10 am, the third train at 12.30 pm and the fourth train at 2.30 pm.
Of these four trains, only the second train goes up to the last station Gembrook.
The other three trains only go up to Lakeside station.
Puffing Billy Schedule: Trains starting from Belgrave
First Train’s timetable
Starts from Belgrave at 10.30 am
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 10.53 am
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 11.05 am
Departs from Emerald station at 11.20 am
Arrives at Lakeside station at 11.30 am
*You can get down at the last stop and spend your time at Emerald Lake Park. Once done, get back to Belgrave on the return train. Or if you want to proceed to Gembrook, wait for the second train to arrive just after 12 noon.
Second train’s timetable
Starts from Belgrave at 11.10 am
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 11.33 am
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 11.38 am
Departs from Emerald station at 11.53 am
Arrives at Lakeside station at 12.08 pm
Departs from Lakeside station at 12.20 pm
Departs from Cockatoo station at 12.35 pm
Reaches Gembrook at 12.08 pm
*This is the day’s first and last train to Gembrook.
Third train’s timetable
Starts from Belgrave at 12.30 pm
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 12.59 pm
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 1.05 pm
Departs from Emerald station at 1.20 pm
Arrives at Lakeside station at 1.40 pm
*To return to Belgrave, you can take the train which departs Lakeside station at 2.25 pm. The last train to Belgrave from Lakeside is at 4.15 pm.
Fourth train’s timetable
Starts from Belgrave at 2.30 pm
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 2.53 pm
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 3 pm
Departs from Emerald station at 3.15 pm
Arrives at Lakeside station at 3.30 pm
*To go back to Puffing Billy’s HQ Belgrave you have two trains – one starts at 3.40 pm from Lakeside, and the last one departs at 4.15 pm.
Puffing Billy Schedule: Trains returning to Belgrave
First Train’s timetable
Starts from Lakeside station at 12.30 pm
Departs from Emerald station at 12.45 pm
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 12.57 pm
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 1 pm
Arrives at Belgrave station at 1.30 pm
Second Train’s timetable
Starts from Lakeside station at 2.25 pm
Departs from Emerald station at 2.40 pm
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 2.57 pm
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 3 pm
Arrives at Belgrave station at 3.30 pm
Third Train’s timetable
Starts from Gembrook station at 2.45 pm
Departs from Cockatoo station at 3.05 pm
Arrives at Lakeside station at 3.20 pm
Departs from Lakeside station at 3.40 pm
Departs from Emerald station at 3.55 pm
Arrives at Menzies Creek station at 4.07 pm
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 4.08 pm
Arrives at Belgrave station at 4.32 pm
*If you are in Gembrook, this is the last train you can catch to get to Belgrave. And since the day’s only Belgrave to Gembrook train reaches the station at 1 pm, you effectively get 1 hour 45 minutes to explore this township.
Fourth Train’s timetable
Starts from Lakeside station at 4.15 pm
Departs from Emerald station at 4.25 pm
Reaches Menzies Creek station at 4.37 pm
Departs from Menzies Creek station at 4.38 pm
Arrives at Belgrave station at 5.08 pm
*This is the last train of the day to Belgrave.
Important: On Christmas Day the Puffin Billy trains don’t run and for six days a year – from 26 December to 31 December – the trains don’t follow the timings mentioned above.
Puffing Billy tickets
There are two ways to experience Puffing Billy.
1. You can buy Puffing Billy railway tickets and experience only the heritage train.
2. You can experience Puffing Billy along with one of the many other tourist attractions nearby.
Some of the nearby attractions include the world-famous Penguin Parade at Phillip Island, Healesville Sanctuary or the wineries in Yarra Valley.
These day tours start from Melbourne and have pick up and drop facilities from city hotels.
1. Explore Dandenong Ranges on Puffing Billy Train
This is a five hours’ tour, which starts with a pick up from your hotel in Melbourne.
A luxury coach takes you to the Puffing Billy station, where you board the classic train.
Midway through you get down and visit a quaint little town called Sassafras, famous for antiques and local crafts.
After your exploration is over, you board the Puffing Billy again and head back to your hotel.
Puffing Billy Ticket price
Adult ticket (16+ years): 115 AUD
Child ticket (2 to 15 years): 58 AUD
2. Puffing Billy and Healesville Wildlife
This is a day-long tour which starts at 8 am and ends at 5 pm in the evening.
You get picked up from your hotel in Melbourne, and an air-conditioned coach transfers you to a Puffing Billy station.
After your Puffin Billy train journey, you get down for lunch in one of the Yarra Valley wineries.
Once the sumptuous lunch, you head to your afternoon venue, the award-winning Healesville Sanctuary.
After exploring Australia’s premier wildlife and nature sanctuary, you get into your coach for the journey back to Melbourne.
Puffing Billy Tour price
Adult ticket (16+ years): 179 AUD
Child ticket (1 to 15 years): 90 AUD
3. Puffing Billy and Penguin Parade in Philip Island
This is a limited tour, and you can book it only if you are holidaying in Australia from September to April.
Philip Island is one of the largest penguin colonies of Australia, and this tour helps you combine it with a trip on Puffing Billy railway train.
Your driver and guide picks you up from your Melbourne CBD hotel and helps you experience these popular activities –
1. Puffing Billy
2. Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary
3. Penguin Parade at Philip Island
And then you are driven back to your hotel.
Tour Ticket price
Adult ticket (13+ years): 255 AUD
Child ticket (4 to 12 years): 235 AUD
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
4. Puffing Billy and wine tasting at Yarra Valley Wineries
In this 9-hour tour starting from Melbourne, you first ride the historic Puffing Billy Steam Train.
In the afternoon, you visit Fergusson’s Winery in Yarra Valley, Victoria’s famous wine-producing region.
At the Winery, you indulge in some of the region’s best wines, and also enjoy their hot spit roast lunch.
Lunch is followed by a visit to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, for some dessert.
Once you are fully satiated, you get onto your air-conditioned coach for the trip back to Melbourne.
Adult ticket (15+ years): 150 AUD
Child ticket (4 to 14 years): 75 AUD
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
Puffing Billy weather
Irrespective of the weather, Puffing Billy Steam train is always a great experience.
Sunny days are always better than wet days.
However, many tourists who have been on Puffing Billy train on a raining day still found it to be fun.
When it is sunny, everybody encouraged to sit with their legs dangling from the window sills.
However, when it rains, you won’t be able to sit on the edge of the windows.
The volunteers do try to make it as comfortable for you as possible – even towel drying the seats for you.
During cold weather, it is advisable to wear heavy jackets.
Besides, you can always opt for the closed carriage if you don’t want to brave the wet or cold weather.
Food on Puffing Billy
It is possible to have a classy lunch or dinner on the majestic Puffing Billy train.
Puffing Billy lunch
As part of your Puffing Billy steam train experience, you can also book a three-course meal or Natter Platter.
Cured meats, fine cheeses, and Devonshire Tea will be served.
At 115 AUD for an adult, the Puffing Billy lunch costs double the regular ticket.
The Puffing Billy train which serves lunch departs Belgrave station daily (excluding Victorian public holidays) at 12.30 pm.
After a 3-hour tour, it gets back to Belgrave at approximately 3.30 pm.
Puffing Billy Dinner
Like the lunch experience, the Puffing Billy dinner is also priced at 115 AUD for an adult.
The Puffing Billy dinner train departs at 7.30 pm from Belgrave.
However, the frequency of this dinner train is low – almost one every month.
You will be served a three-course meal with high-end drinks served at extra cost.
Puffing Billy pub
The Puffing Billy may not have a full-fledged pub, but they do offer a range of beverages, including internationally acclaimed wines from the Yarra Valley Region.
Our recommendation: This three-hour steam train journey is best enjoyed when you take in the beautiful scenery of Dandenong Ranges. Why would you want to look at your plates when you can look out of the train and create memories forever!
Puffing Billy FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Puffing Billy Railway and its trains.
Yes, you can.
A limited number of tickets are sold from the Puffing Billy stations on the day of travel.
On the day tickets, can be bought from the Booking Office or the Conductor.
Yes, Puffing Billy Railways allocates a certain number of tickets for each train to online bookings.
These can be purchased online up until 8 am on the day of travel.
All online tickets are ‘Open return tickets.’
That means, after your journey from Belgrave or Lakeside stations, when you want to get back to the originating stations you can get on to any of the trains returning to Belgrave or Lakeside.
On busy days, lots of tourists want to get on the same return train, so it is better to line up early.
If you have booked a day tour from the links provided on our website, you don’t have to worry for the tour operator will handle all the hassle of getting your Puffing Billy tickets. Jump to the tickets section
However, if you have booked Puffing Billy tickets from elsewhere, we recommend you reach the starting station’s Booking Office least 45 minutes before your train departure time to collect tickets and board the train.
No, single journey tickets (or one-way tickets) can’t be purchased online.
Single Journey tickets can only be purchased on the day of travel from the station’s Booking Office or from the conductor.
The seats on the Puffing Billy Railway aren’t numbered and reserved.
Puffing Billy tickets allow you to sit in any of the unreserved carriages.
If you are a big group, we recommend you arrive at the station early to find seats together.
It is best to sit on the right-hand side of the train, facing the locomotive.
When you face forward, you get the best views of the train snaking around the trestle bridge bends, etc.
Puffing Billy Railway has six steam trains and two diesel trains.
However, since these are heritage trains, Puffing Billy has a stringent maintenance program in place because of which one or more of the trains are always undergoing maintenance.