"Puffing Billy photo page and musings" Belgrave Travelogue by sirgaw

Belgrave Travel Guide: 22 reviews and 100 photos

Strange photo! One of the fastest corners of the railway has an abutting property where the owner has placed a disused telephone box (pay phone for our north American friends). Just in case Clark Kent decides to drop in and change, the telephone box is all ready - hence the well named tag, "Superman Corner."

Note: Photo is a bit blurry as was taken from a video. Superman corner is one of the fastest sections of the track - all of 20 miles per hour - and after many attempts at getting a photo, I gave up and took a video instead.

Not an inspiring station building and one of a number that remain from the original railway where, except for special circumstances, the trains no longer stop. Station named after one of the founding fathers of the railway -
Carl Axel Nobelius

The nearby "Nobelius Packing Sheds" received a new lease of life and has become the railways function venue, where weddings, dinner dances and similar are held. Naturally the guests are transported by train. There is a public 'Steam and Cuisine' nigh - patrons leave Belgrave at 7.15pm, enjoy a 3 course meal at 'The Packing Shed' and return to Belgrave around 11.30pm.

Not sure who has the most fun on PBR - the adults or the kids of all ages? After working as a volunteer for over 6 months I can say that the vast majority of passengers are great - maybe it's because everyone has a fantastic time riding on a century plus steam train.

The kids in the photo spent some time trying to scare everyone on the carriage - including me, so a game developed on who could scare the most. Please don't ask who won, but the kids may have been distracted by something known only to kids - to the relief of all on board.

I now have a little clip on koala bear attached to my conductors hat - much to the delight of overseas tourists young and old.

Main station for the PBR is Belgrave. It's a 2 level structure and is not the original station building, but a very good attempt was made in the design to keep within the "heritage character" of the railways hey days - the 1920's and 30's.

The "next train" is a true relic from the past and is well used today - including the 2 antique long-handled "pieces" that are used to alter the clock and pull down the next display.

He's a gentleman right to the top of his head and one of the station masters on PBR - but that's not all. He changes hats and becomes a head conductor, a ticket seller and a training officer as the roster dictates.

The station master is really the "boss of the line" on his day on duty - and like nearly all those who work on PBR he's a volunteer. There are about 500 active volunteers and many of the behind the scenes jobs are done away from the railway by the hardy bunch of volunteers. At the time of writing, there are only 49 Head Conductors and Conductors, some come once (or more) a week, some only once a month and everything in between. We are all volunteers and will always welcome new comers that can help out as their time dictates - come on in and have fun.

The real "stars" on PBR are the locomotives. Although they belch smoke, steam and soot, they are from a bygone era and must be preserved for future generations. PBR is actively engaged in finding volunteers and a few paid positions to keep the old locos going. If you are interested, drop the railway a line

The loco in the photo is G42 a Garratt fully imported from UK and was one of only 2 that did run on the narrow gauge lines of Victoria. Quite easy to get into a fight with true Puffing Billy "nuts" (and said in the nicest way) because G42 did not run on the Gembrook line. The true Buffing Billy locos are the Baldwin class NA locos, such as shown on the tip. There are 6 N class locos owned by PBR, however as I write this, only 3 in service. One, 3A, could in theory be restored and placed in service, but the cost to do so is in the millions of dollars.

G42 in the photo was lazing away at Menzies Creek Station waiting for the driver, who no doubt was in the small cafe and getting himself a cuppa. All the trains run on coal and all the drivers run on cups of tea or coffee and the train just will not go unless that trusty drivers mug is well-filled.

By the looks on the drivers face, he got that cuppa filled up and now he's at home lounging away on his comfortable and well padded arm rest. Now all he needs is the shrill whistle from the guard, a green flag and off he goes to Emerald followed by Lakeside, where he'll get that damn mug filled again.

. . . and he and all the other drivers are doing a great job too (I have to write that or else I may not be permitted to ride the rails of PBR - LOL)

That famous scene - the wooden trestle bridge built 1896 - and it seems one of the most photographed bridges in Australia - the green 6A loco built 1906, a string of historic carriages and all full of happy tourists.

The passengers were all from Indonesia and we hosted this special train full of people from Jakarta and the Indonesian Stock Exchange. The train stopped on the bridge for the ever-present Indonesian TV cameraman to film the train as all the passengers sang an Indonesian song.

To my Indonesian friends - Tera Makasi Salamat Jalan (Thank you and have a good trip)

  • Page Updated Nov 12, 2012
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sirgaw

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