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Sights and Sounds: Puffing Billy – Dandenong Ranges

We were recently in Melbourne for a holiday and this is a good place to take the kids…

If you have a child that loves trains – especially Thomas and Friends – then you really have to take him on Puffing Billy (up in the Dandenong Ranges).

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Puffing Billy is an old steam train that puffs along the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria.  It is a two-hour ride (up and back) through some rather scenic country-side on the outskirts of Melbourne.

They also have special events like “A Day out with Thomas”, “Drive a Steam Train”, a “Dinner Special” and others.  Unfortunately for us, “A Day out with Thomas” was fully booked up until April so we couldn’t take Gavin to see a life-size Thomas.  If you want to find out more about the events they have, you can check out the Puffing Billy website.

Gavin was a little dubious at first about getting on board, but once I’d shown him the engine and pointed out all the parts that were just like Thomas, he was quick to change his mind.  I also related the engine to the characters from the book.  For instance, the engine pictured earlier was black, so I told him it was Donald (although, technically speaking, Donald is a tender engine and the engine in the picture above is a tank engine).  And the engine below was a diesel engine, so I told Gavin it was Mavis.

While I was pointing out all the parts of the engine that I knew, the Fireman was standing in the engine room.  He must have overheard me and realised that Gavin was a train enthusiast (albeit a very young one) because he started chatting with Gavin, showed him the firebox and gave him a little piece of “special coal” as a souvenir.

He was a tad sleepy and fell asleep to the rocking motion of the train on the way up to Lakeside but he did manage to see some of the sights on the way back.

There is a souvenir shop with loads of Thomas and Friends merchandise.  We ended up buying a fleece blanket, a water bottle, a couple of magnets, and a couple of key chains.

Gavin is probably a little young to fully appreciate the fun of Puffing Billy, but I’m sure if we brought him back on our next visit, he’ll be much more excited.  We’ll also be sure to book a seat on the Thomas train way, way in advanced.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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