When we went: Wednesday Feb 25
How we got there: we caught the 8:53 Belgrave train from Flinders street station, hopped out at Belgrave and walked along the line to the Puffing Billy station.
- Heritage rail trip (around two hours each way)
- Short lakeside walk on sealed level tracks (around 15 minutes)
- Short forest walk on clear but narrow leafy tracks (about 30-40 mins)
What we did (the details): once at the puffing billy station, we bought tickets to the 10:30 steam train. As we were walking down, we noticed a string of coaches arrive, so were a little nervous about how busy it would be.
The puffing billy carriages were beautiful, there were about 10, but they seemed to all booked for the coaches. The platform was organised chaos and we panicked slightly trying to find a free space. Eventually we asked a conductor who directed us to the only nonreserved carriage and this had some standing room. After a few minutes, it seems that after all the coach passengers boarded there was some sitting space as we lucked into being ushered to some seats in the front carriage. Huzzah!
It’s about an hour trip through beautiful forest and small towns to the Lakeside station, where we disembarked and strolled around the lovely Emerald lake while we waited for the train to Gembrook. There’s a gap of about 50 minutes so it leaves plenty of time to circuit the lake and pick up lunch or a snack. We decided to leave our lunch purchasing till Gembrook.
Only a few minutes late, the Gembrook train arrived at about 12:25 and off we set again, this time with a diesel train pulling us along. The next leg of the trip Is about 40mins through more forest that opens out to rolling farmlands.
We hop off the train at Gembrook, the end of the line. I quickly noticed the fabric and sweet shop 😉 my partner quickly notices the bakery and we purchase two of the delicious looking veggie pasties and head off towards the forest walk on the edge of town.
The walk starts at the carpark, where there’s a nice information stand and. Case of walk guides. After confirming where we were, wefollowed the misleading ‘hill walk’ sign into the trees. This path soon branches off to the left into the main forest walk. It’s here that we both regretted our choice of footwear. We were wearing sturdy bushwalking sandals, but there were a lot of insects on the forest floor, and the sunny day raised the snake risk, so in hindsight we wished for our closed walking shoes.
The forest walk is very pretty, with guide posts to match the track notes but there are a few intersections that aren’t signed, so we needed to check the map at these points. The top half of the walk kind of dumps you out on a road for a bit, but we just kept the park on our left as we walked and the trail eventually heads back into the trees.
There were multiple signs of fresh digging and wombat poop on the trail, but sadly we didn’t spot one furry marauder. We did see a few crimson rosellas and a bassian thrush, the ferns and trees are glorious, so all and all it was a pleasant and rewarding walk.
We then returned to the park by the train station for 30 mins or so and sat enjoying the sunshine a fruit bun from the bakery.
Back on the puffing billy at 2:45, we caught this one all the way back to Belgrave station, arriving around 4:30. A metro train from Belgrave station back to Flinders Street completed a great day’s outing.
- Puffing Billy timetables: http://mobile.puffingbilly.com.au//services-fares/time-tables/
- Gembrook nature walk notes and map http://www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/files/Environment/Gembrook_trail_notes_web.pdf