27th December 2014 – Just another perfect summers day between Belgrave and Gembrook in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia. Once again not a serious chase, but a quiet look around with camera in hand.
This slightly over-sized diesel double-headed with 8A to Menzies Creek. The train is then split and the steam loco continues on while the diesel takes a number of empty cars back to Belgrave.
8A shuffles back onto the cars to continue on to Lakeside.
The reason there are empty cars to return to Belgrave is that Puffing Billy, as a major tourist attraction, gets thousands of visitors who ride from Belgrave to Menzies Creek as part of an all-day bus tour. The journey only takes an hour from leaving the bus at Belgrave to rejoining it at Menzies Creek, so tour companies have another twelve or so hours in the day to wear the tourists out (and make their bread n butter).
One of those special locations a kilometre or so before Gembrook. The train has been on a steady rise since leaving Cockatoo, but 8A looks like she sounded – no stress, just walking her eight car load at a steady pace.
The peace of old Gembrook yard is barely disturbed as the crew shunt the cars and do the run-around in preparation for the return journey.
Back at Menzies Creek 7A, sporting Christmas decorations, slowly eases another load of holiday makers bound for Gembrook out of the platform.
&a and her train are about to disappear into the forest as they roll toward Cockatoo Creek bridge. Once over the bridge gravity kicks in as the grade turns upward, and remains that way until a kilometre before the end of the line. For more information: https://puffingbilly.com.au