Friday, 23 October 2015

Emerald: Gem of the Dandenongs

Emerald is a small town tucked away in Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges that boasts a quaint little railway station dating back to 1900, and is a scheduled stop for the historic Puffing Billy Railway.

Train time at Puffing Billy's Emerald Station as a Lakeside train makes a scheduled stop, July 2015.

Situated 9 km from Puffing Billy's Belgrave Station, Emerald stands at a height of 1045 feet above sea level, or 318 metres in the modern equivalent, making it the highest station on the Gembrook Line. With a passing parade of daily tourist trains running from Belgrave to Lakeside and beyond, the 2 foot 6 inch gauge narrow gauge railway today is as busy as ever hauling trainloads of passengers in open sided carriages.

Emerald's restored packing shed where fruit was once loaded onto the narrow gauge trains, photo 2015.

While the train stops briefly at Emerald, there is enough time to snap some photos of some of the surviving railway buildings that occupy Emerald Station yard. A restored packing shed and carriage repair workshops stand opposite the station, making the railway yard a busy one for the Puffing Billy Preservation Society.

The goods shed now houses the signal repair division of the volunteer railway, photo 2005.

Emerald is also where the Puffing Billy signals division operate from the old corrugated iron goods shed, and in the sidings are some surviving original narrow gauge freight wagons originally built by the Victorian Railways.

The view I enjoyed from the footplate on my return journey to Belgrave, July 2015.

Emerald Railway Station is a fine example of a fully functional railway yard from a past era of the Victorian Railways history. Built as a cheaper alternative to VR's 5'3" broad gauge lines that dissected the countryside, its great to know that this little 2'6" narrow gauge railway from another century will live on for another hundred years or more, and when it comes to preserved railway stations, Emerald is nothing short of a gem.

The Puffing Billy Railway was a huge feature of my book Train Tripping Around Melbourne. Over 3 days in July 2015, I traveled 365 km by train from Geelong to Gembrook and the MCG, all in search of finding the most interesting things to see from a train. My window seat guide is available now, and from only 99 cents, and whether you are a seasoned Melbournian or simply visiting this amazing city for perhaps the first time, my book is waiting to lead you on a railway adventure of your own.

Available from only $0.99 through the following retailers


No comments: