EIGHT ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES IN MELBOURNE'S DANDENONGS FOR TRAIN OBSESSED KIDS


The southern part of the Dandenong Ranges is Puffing Billy country with the famous steam train snaking through fern glades and open country. Aside from the obvious of riding the train there are plenty of other free or cheap train related activities in the hills for those of us with train obsessed children. So whether you are looking for something to do after a photoshoot with me or are just coming to the hills for a daytrip check out this list.


We love welcoming you to our part of the world but when visiting please do remember to look after the environment by taking your rubbish home or placing it in bins, to not disturb or scare local wildlife and to be respectful of local residents by driving and parking carefully.

Railway controls in Melbourne's Dandenongs Puffing Billy
Railway siding at Puffing Billy Menzies Creek
Puffing Billy Museum Menzies Creek Melbourne
Puffing Billy Museum Menzies Creek Melbourne

1. Wave to the train at the Selby Trestle Bridge

This is perhaps one of the most iconic tourist spots in Melbourne and a good place to watch the train pass by overhead. Be in position around 5 minutes after the scheduled departure time from Belgrave so you can listen for the whistle and watch the train emerge from the trees. For a different perspective walk up the pathway on the southern side of the road. The bridge is located on Belgrave-Gembrook Road between Colombo and Nation Roads. For timetable information click here: Fares & Timetables - Puffing Billy.

2. Visit the Menzies Creek Museum

The museum is a good indoor activity and houses over 80 exhibits. It is free to all and their website includes a a kids scavenger hunt which you can download before you visit. The museum is located next to Menzies Creek Station in School Road, Menzies Creek. To check opening times or print out the scavenger hunt click here: Menzies Creek Museum - Puffing Billy.

3. Check out the Emerald Lake Model Railway

A separate, privately owned and operated entity to Puffing Billy the model railway at Emerald is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is located within Emerald Park and entry for a family of four is $20. For more information click here: Emerald Lake Model Railway is in the Dandenong Ranges in Emerald, Victoria.

4. Play at Puffing Billy Playground in Emerald

This park in an absolute favourite with local kids. It offers the usual range of swings and slides but they love it because of the "tree cubby" next to the Puffing Billy workshop and the fact they can run down and hang off the fence to wave as Puffing Billy pulls in and out of Emerald Station. There are public toilets and bbqs and a range of food outlets including a cafe, fish and chips, ice cream shop, bakery and IGA within one block of the park which is located in Kilvington Drive, Emerald.

Puffing Billy Museum Menzies Creek Melbourne
Station Master sign Menzies Creek Puffing Billy Station Dandenongs
Controls on Puffing Billy Railway
Railway track at Puffing Billy Dandenong Ranges Melbourne

5. Walk through Wright Forest in Cockatoo

This forest adjoins the Puffing Billy Track and it is best accessed from Bailey Road, Cockatoo near the corner of Second Avenue. Head down Yellow Track then turn left onto Wright Track where you will find an array of fairy doors amongst the trees. Turn right down Bridge Track to make your way to Puffing Billy Bridge No. 8 Wright Trestle which you can walk under and explore or if you check the timetable and time it correctly you can watch the train pass by.

6. Ride bikes along the Eastern Dandenong Ranges Trail from Gembrook

There is a wide and graded path that runs along the Puffing Billy line which is perfect for family walks or bike riding. You can either start from Gembrook Station (walk to the far end of the carpark and through the gate to the start of the trail) or you can park near the service station on the main road into town. The walk criss-crosses the train line in several places and takes in views of the surrounding hills and farmland.

7. Grab lunch or a snack at the Carriage Cafe in Seville

A short walk along a path from the carpark this cafe is the ultimate for train loving kids as you can be seated in an old fashioned train, with your very own compartment or you can opt to sit at the many outside tables. There are toys and plenty of open space for kids to safely roam around without the worry of passing cars. It has some of the most affordable meals around including the kids $5 Station Master lunch which includes a train shaped sandwich, a chocolate cupcake and a juice. Open everyday except Monday and Wednesday. For more information or to check out their menu click here: Home - Carriage Café Seville (carriagecafe.com.au).

8. Have a drink or something to eat at the Paradise Valley Hotel in Clematis.

Recently refurbished this pub is perfect for families with lots of outdoor seating amongst their gardens which back onto the Puffing Billy line. Before or after your meal head down to the line to check out the Clematis siding and discarded railway sleepers and train paraphernalia. The kids can run around on the grass or play hide and seek amongst the shrubs while parents enjoy a beverage after a long day of exploring. For more information or to check out their menu click here: Paradise Valley Hotel.

Kate Cashin is a family photographer based in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

She specialises in nature sessions and forest adventures with the motto "Play. Move. Explore.".