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Published: August 12th 2010
Day 356 - Box Hill Resort (Day out on Puffing Billy)
All the times we’ve spent time in Melbourne over the past few trips, never mind this one, and we still haven’t managed to see one of its highlights - Puffing Billy. Well today’s the day and we’re very excited. We couldn’t possibly do the trip justice on our own so we’re taking the girls, Charlotte and Amy with us plus their young cousin Luke.
We're excited to be going on the train and excited to be leaving behind the plumbing problems at the ‘Box Hill Resort’! For some reason what you 'do’ in the toilet is re-presenting itself in the shower. It’s not good and what started last night as a minor problem is now turning into a bit of a drama. Hopefully with four of us out of the house for most of the day it will give it time to put itself right!
We made our way to pick up Luke and then hit the highway to tackle the 50 minute car journey. We seem to have created a ‘must-do’ game on our journeys with Luke, the “Yes No” game. If you’ve never played the
rules are quite simple, one person asks lots of questions of the other person who is not allowed to say the words “Yes” or “No” in their answer. Luke has turned it into an art form!
The journey time passed quickly and we were soon at our destination capturing one of the last spaces in the car park closest to Belgrave station. And then we saw it - the end of the queue! There were hundreds of people in front of us. We’d timed our day we the intention of catching the 10.30 train but it was pretty obvious that wasn’t going to happen so now we focused on entertaining ourselves whilst standing in the queue. I could kiss Simone (of the Reeves family in Mansfield) for teaching me both the Button and Pirate songs. They’ve saved our sanity a few times and today we were saved again although we did get a few odd looks from others in the queue who were less prepared to make ‘fools’ of themselves in the name of entertainment! Did we care? Of course not!
Friends from our time on the road, Carol and Ray, arrived to join us in the queue.
We last saw them at their home in Mt Martha but really wanted to wish them farewell in person before flying home to the UK at the end of the month and luckily they were free today.
The station master was making his way through the queue towards us and eventually delivered some worrying news, we might not even get on the next train which was due to depart at ten past eleven. Oh no! We pushed it to the back of our minds, carried on entertaining ourselves and hoped that he’d mis-counted!
At about 5 minutes past eleven we made it to the ticket booth and were served at double speed so we made it to a carriage with seconds to spare before the cry of “All Aboard” went up! We were finally on our way.
It’s a really special experience travelling on Puffing Billy in that you can sit hanging your legs over the side of the carriage Charlotte, Amy and Luke took a little bit of persuading that it was a safe thing to do but there were smiles all round after only a few minutes.
Puffing Billy follows the original mountain track
from Belgrave to Gembrook through the stunning and majestic Dandenong Ranges. It operates 363 days of the year due to the generosity of over 600 dedicated volunteers and is a major tourist attraction.
We pass through the Locomotive Depot and then into Sherbrooke Forest filed with Mountain Ash. When we travel across the timber Trestle Bridge the kids look nervous to be so high above Monbulk Creek and Gembrook Road. We travel on catching the beautiful sight of the white smoke bellowing out the engine chimney every now and then. We pass the position of the landslide which saw the line close in 1953 and the point where the track had to be diverted when it was reopened. We passed the view of Port Philip Bay and then the train makes a quick stop at Menzies Creek station. We got to meet the train driver here and even managed a photograph with him - another ex-pat and from local city Derby!
Our last stop was the Lakeside terminus at Emerald Lake. It’s the perfect stop off when you are entertaining youngsters and looking for somewhere to picnic! Our chosen bench was quite close by to a large amount
of fallen leaves and soon Charlotte, Amy and Luke were having a great time gathering them all together in a huge pile then throwing them high in the air over their heads! Sometimes we forget that the simplest of things can be so much fun!
While the youngsters entertained themselves with the leaves we chatted happily to Carol and Ray about life in Mt Martha and the tentative plans they’ve got for their next big trip. It involves a bit more off-roading than they’ve previously been able to do so in preparation they’ve got themselves a smart new 4WD truck which they’re both very chuffed with.
All three of our borrowed youngsters had spotted the paddle boats on the big lake so it wasn’t long before we were being urged to take to the water. Charlotte & Amy joined forces in one boat and Luke joined me as chief driver in the other. It was fun but it was harder work than it had looked! There was no chance of us going over our allotted time! Luke did well with the steering and I got a good work out taking us right around the lake looking at the
ducks and chasing the girls!
Back on dry land we found a bit more energy for a walk to the wishing well then scoffed a well earned ice-cream before the train pulled into the station ready to take us home. Perfect!
Who can resist time in a gift shop? Not us that’s for sure and although we haven’t bought many souvenirs on our trip it doesn’t stop us having a look! This time though we did buy a few things, a large train whistle which Amy was desperate for and would have blown all the way home if we’d let her!
For this trip it was time to say goodbye to our very good friends Carol & Ray. Who would have thought that after a chance meeting in the view point across from Mt Conner on our way to Uluru that we would have kept it touch and enjoyed so many get-togethers? We’ll be sure to keep in touch when we get home and look forward to hearing all about their trips in the future. Good luck guys!
Amazingly the youngsters managed to stay awake most of the way home and Luke excitedly told Mum Paula
all about the day when we got back to drop him off. Thanks for the beautiful Taylor Francis gifts Luke, hopefully it won’t be too many years before we can do it all again!
Back at home the drains are aren’t any better, in fact if anything they’re worse! We’re now banned from going to the toilet in the main bathroom as it’s coming up through the sink in the kitchen and you just have to avert your eyes in the 2nd bathroom as the flush brings evidence up through the plughole in the shower opposite!
And on that note we’ll bid you goodnight!!
Dar and Sar
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