We went to ride on Puffing Billy last month for Oscar’s birthday and forgot about it until yesterday, it wasn’t unforgettable haha, but it wasn’t forgettable either, a nice time was had by all. We booked the 10.30am departure which turned out to be a bit of a rush (since they tell you to be 30 minutes early or something), we didn’t get there by 10am (more like 10.20am) but it didn’t matter, they didn’t leave till about 10.35am anyway. A lot of late comers strolling on so we certainly didn’t feel too bad about not being early.
We left from the starting point of Belgrave and headed for Lakeside, which is the main stop as there are picninc grounds and a small lake to spend time at (and some nearby play grounds). It takes about an hour with a couple of stops along the way, there is a nice view toward the city near the top around 45 minutes in and a fun atmosphere the whole time. The train meanders across Mount Dandenong and stops traffic at many junctions where people seem to enjoy the spectacle of a passing steam train.
We arrived at Lakeside at about 11.30am and quickly got out and ate our packed sandwiches by the lake. We had a short walk around and discovered that the next train back to Belgrave (after the 12.30pm train) was not until after 2pm, which we were not prepared for. So in a rush we headed back to the train station and boarded before setting off back to Belgrave.
So unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a relaxing time up at the lake but at least we had a peaceful ride on the train back. As the weather was quite cool (but sunny) it wasn’t so busy so we got to sit comfortably and also dangle our legs out the window whenever we liked. We got to Belgrave and were pretty hungry so we had a quick look in the gift shop before checking out what food was on offer along the main street.
It’s a good experience but we definitely could have done better by being more prepared, being May it also wasn’t the best time to spend outdoors in the crisp air of Mount Dandenong hungry. Next time maybe we’ll go when it’s a bit warmer so that we can enjoy the lakeside activities a bit and spend more time up there (and also prepare more food!). All in all it’s a fun trip and the trains are pretty cool to see, puffing out all that steam makes for some interesting pictures, there’s also that part where the train goes over an elevated section of track that would look pretty cool from down on the side of the road. It’s not cheap (54$ per adult) so definitely worth it to prepare and plan out the trip better than we did.