Attractive township in the Dandenongs famous for its Puffing Billy railway
Located only 40 km east of Melbourne, Belgrave is a pleasant commuter township located in the Dandenong Ranges at an altitude of 227 metres. Its main claim to tourist fame is its outstanding Puffing Billy railway line which is a popular holiday attraction loved by both children and adults.

Early in the 20th century, a colony for writers and artists was set up by a Melbourne businessman named J.G. Roberts. It was called Sunnyside and attracted guests such as Tom Roberts, Aeneas Gunn and C.J. Dennis who wrote much of his best-known work, The Sentimental Bloke, here.

The ranges themselves, which reach a high point of 633 m above sea-level, consist of volcanic lava. They experience high rainfall as prevailing westerly winds rise when they hit the range and then cool to produce rain. The combination of rainfall and rich volcanic soils renders the soil fecund and the ranges are cloaked in vast tracts of forests and fern gullies, as well as some distinguished and renowned gardens. Potatoes, flowers, bulbs and berry fruits are produced for commercial purposes in the area.

Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Woiwurung people who supplied the word Dandenong (from 'tanjenong') meaning lofty.

The forests drew timbergetters in the early days of European settlement who supplied a growing market in Melbourne. The demands of this same market later saw some of the forest cleared for the establishment of farms. However, efforts to reserve land for recreational purposes began in the 1860s and this impulse led to the creation of a number of forest reserves which were finally amalgamated (and expanded) in 1987 to form Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Today the area is a major tourist attraction with numerous gardens, forest areas, lookouts, walking tracks, nurseries, galleries, pick-your-own berry farms, antique shops, galleries, art-and-craft outlets, restaurants, tearooms and picnic reserves.

The annual Puffing Billy Railway Great Train Race pits joggers against the train over a 13.5-km course every April.

Things to see:

Tourist Information
The Dandenong Ranges and Knox Tourism Information Centre is located at 1211 Burwood Highway at Upper Ferntree Gully, tel: (03) 9758 7522.

Puffing Billy
An antique steam train known as 'Puffing Billy', something of a symbol of the Dandenongs, runs from Belgrave through Emerald to the Lakeside station and back (26 km return) and sometimes on to Gembrook and return (48 km return). It operates every day except Christmas Day from the Puffing Billy railway station which is located on the Old Monbulk Rd.


The number of trains per day and the timing of their departure varies seasonally and there are always more trains running on weekends and public holidays. You can pick the train up at any of the three stations and travel to any of the others (one way or return). There are also special night trains and the Luncheon Special which departs Belgrave at midday. It offers the choice of First Class travel in the dining carriage on a trip to Emerald. .

Other special attractions are Friends of Thomas the Tank Engine Days, Commissioner's Inspection Trains, Wedding Trains, the Mother's Day Special, the Father's Day Special, Santa's Specials, Jingle Bells In July, The Great Train Race, the Historic Machinery Festival and Bike Trains.

The Puffing Billy Steam Museum is located behind the Menzies Creek station. It houses a collection of Australian and overseas narrow-gauge locomotives, rolling stock and steam machinery. It is open weekends and public holidays from 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., Wednesdays from 11.30 to 3.30 p.m. and, for the Luncheon trains, from 12.30 p.m. to 1.00 p.m. Picnic and barbecue facilities are available and the tearooms at the station are open for all trains. Passengers may break their journey at Menzies Creek to visit the Museum and then continue or return on a later train.

The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Railway first opened on December 18, 1900. A landslide caused the closure of the line until volunteers began the work of fund-raising and rebuilding. Menzies Creek was reached in 1962, Emerald Town in 1965, Emerald Lake Park in 1975 and Gembrook in 1998.

The trip from Belgrave station to Gembrook takes in Sherbrooke Forest, several fine trestle bridges, Selby township, the landslide site, Menzies Creek station, the Steam Museum, Emerald, Emerald Lake Park, Wright State Forest, Cockatoo Creek valley, Cockatoo township, a number of remote train stations in picturesque bush settings, Gembrook and panoramic views over farmlands, Port Phillip Bay, Westernport Bay, Cardinia Reservoir, Arthurs Seat, the Yarra Valley wine region and the Warburton Range.

For recorded timetable information ring 1900 937 069 any time or ring the Belgrave office on weekdays from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9754 6800. The expansive web site is

The Belgrave Art Stockade
The Belgrave Art Stockade, at 64-68 Monbulk Rd, is the winner of a Merit Award from Dandenong Ranges Tourism. There are ten rooms of fine art, including decorative wrought iron works, crystals, woodwork, pottery, leather goods, jewellery, knitwear, paintings and Australiana. Craft demonstrations are provided on the first Sunday of each month, tel: (03) 9754 2421.

Horatio's Amazing Home
This unusual cottage was built by Horatio Jones in 1917. It is made of flattened four-gallon kerosene tins on a frame of roughly-hewn eucalyptus trees. Jones erected a second building which housed a kitchen, pantry, bathroom, laundry and workshop with a storeroom upstairs. However, little of this second building remains.

Jones was a handyman and something of an inventor who, at the age if 17, had won a prize for a 'self-adjusting' windmill in the 1888 Melbourne International Exhibition. As a young man, he was also befriended by distinguished botanist and creator of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, Ferdinand von Mueller. The two investigated the forests of the Dandenongs together where von Mueller taught Jones how to select, dry, press and mount specimens. When the botanist died in 1896 Jones spent six weeks grieving at their favourite specimen-gathering site where he built a hut which he used periodically over the years.

Both Jones and his sisters, Christina and Annie, were engaged before the outbreak of World War I but both fiancees of the sisters were killed in the war and Horatio was invalided out in November 1916 after straining his heart while carrying signal cable underwater. He was advised that he didn't have long to live. To make things worse both parents died in the war and his father's business partner absconded to Mexico with the company's money leaving the family with debts. Under the circumstances Horatio released his fiancee from their engagement. His sisters decided to look after him in what were expected to be his last few years. (he outlived both) Jones returned to the site of his old hut and built the present cottage for himself and his sisters. There they were visited by the likes of C.J. Dennis and John Shaw Neilson who also built cottages in the area.

The dedicated efforts of volunteers (some being old friends of Jones) preserved the house and, when it was threatened in the early 1980s, they appealed to the National Trust who immediately gave it their highest classification.

It is open by prior arrangement. The admission charge includes tea, coffee and biscuits. Ring (03) 9754 4936 for further information and details on how to get there.

The C.J. Dennis Wilderness Hideaway
This cottage was built in 1913 by noted Australian literary figure C.J. Dennis. It has been restored and is open to the public by prior arrangement. The admission charge includes tea, coffee and biscuits. Ring (03) 9754 4936 for further information and details on how to get there.

Lysterfield Lake Park
Lysterfield Lake Park is based around the former Lysterfield Reservoir which supplied water to the Mornington Peninsula from 1936 until it was supplanted by Cardinia Reservoir in 1975. It has since become a recreation area. Follow the Belgrave-Hallam Rd south-west of Belgrave for 9 or 10 km then turn right into Horswood Rd which leads through the main entrance and ticket office to Lysterfield Lake. The entrance is closed at night. There is an admission fee.

This Park incorporates valuable remnant native forest and eucalypt plantations. It is also a wildlife refuge which has attracted numerous bird species such as ducks, swans, grebus, pelicans, Japanese snipe, gang-gang, cockatoos, bellbirds, wrens and honeyeaters.

At the Lakeside Picnic Area there are carparks, picnic areas, barbecues, boat-launching ramps and toilets. Horse riding is permitted in summer on some tracks in the east of the park. Those interested in orienteering, rogaining or bringing in groups of 40 or more must contact the Park Office first, tel: (03) 9796 8763.

Swimming is permitted only from the beach in the lakeside area and, while power boats are forbidden for reasons of swimmers' safety and for the protection of waterbird habitats, non-powered boating is permitted in certain delineated areas (it is excluded from the northern, eastern and south-eastern edges of the lake). Those with sailboats should note that a 5-metre maximum applies to monohull boats and 4.3 m for multi-hull boats. Sailboarding, canoeing and rowing are other possibilities. Informal competitions are allowed but not regattas and model boating is restricted to non-motorised craft. A brochure called 'Boating on Lysterfield Lake' is available from the park or ring Parks Victoria on 131 963.

Some of the park's tracks are for walkers only while others are also open to cyclists. The paths around the lakeside are wheelchair friendly and there are disabled facilities at the toilets. Access along the tracks can be difficult after heavy rain.

The two main walks are (a) a short and pleasant walk from the lakeside area to the dam wall and (b) an 8-km walk around the lake, across the dam wall and along the Tramline Track, Lamberts Track and Lake Track, around the northern edge of the Conservation Zone to Logan Park Rd then through the Conservation Zone to the main carpark.

Parks Victoria publish a pamphlet relating to the park, tel: 131 963.

Vintage Fun offers chauffeur-driven rides in vintage cars. They pick up from anywhere for any occasion, tel: (03) 9754 7670. Another local operator is Top End Tours, tel: (1300) 130 766.

Belgrave B & B
11 Monbulk Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 4557

Garden Heights Bed & Breakfast
73 Lockwood Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 5308
Rating: ****1/2

Glen Harrow Gardens
Old Monbulk Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 3232

Jayne's Retreat
27 Terrys Ave
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9752 6181

Rose-A-Lee Manor
6 Talbot Ave
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 4473
Facsimile: (03) 9754 1414
Rating: ***1/2

Wonderland Pottery Bed & Breakfast
85 Terrys Ave
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 4547
Facsimile: (03) 9754 4543
Rating: ***1/2

Foxes Hollow Cottages
48 Edward St
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9751 1438, 1800 645 564
Facsimile: (03) 9751 2030
Rating: ****

Foxes Hollow Cottages
48 Edward St
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9751 1438, 1800 645 564
Facsimile: (03) 9751 2030
Rating: ****

Pine Tree Cottage
11 Marama Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 2745
Rating: ***1/2

Captain America Hamburger Heaven
1698 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 2047

Grapevine Restaurant
9 Bayview Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 1004

Jade Valley Restaurant
Shop 9 1647 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 6663

Jean Claude Restaurant
1671 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9752 5122

Jorgenson's Restaurant
1627 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 754 8083

Micawber Park Tavern
Cnr Monbulk & Gully Crs.
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 8660

Mountain View Chinese Restaurant
51527 Burwood Hwy Tecoma
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 6388

Noodle In A Box
1684 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 8688

Olde Tyme Coffee Shop & Restaurant
1698 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 6883

Pats Place
1678 Main Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9752 6244

Puffing Billy Railway
Old Monbulk Rd
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9757 0740

Ruby's Restaurant, Lounge & Club
1648 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9754 7445

Firebox Cafe
1643 Burwood Hwy
Belgrave VIC 3160
Telephone: (03) 9752 5377