Thursday, 12 November 2015

Wright: Steam through the forrest

Wright Forrest is one of the scenic highlights aboard Puffing Billy on the run from Lakeside to Gembrook through Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges. Not only does the train snake past an untouched stand of native stringy bark and eucalyptus trees, but north of the tiny wayside halt, the line passes over three timber trestle bridges, one of which is an impressive 200 feet long and stands 50 feet above a deep gully.

The tiny wayside halt of Wright is located on Puffing Billy's narrow gauge line to Gembrook. Photo 2015.

The 2 foot 6 inch narrow gauge line first passed through Wright Forrest in 1900, and 4 years later in 1904 a small wayside halt was opened to serve the nearby village of Avonsleigh. Little remained of Wright Station following the closure of the Gembrook Line in 1954. So when the line to Gembrook was reopened by the Puffing Billy Preservation Society in 1998, a replica of the original corrugated iron waiting shed and station sign was reconstructed alongside the line.

Wright Station as seen from the fireman's seat as we pass through under full steam in July 2015.

Although Wright is not a scheduled stop on Puffing Billy's trip to Gembrook, the tiny waiting shed can be seen to the left shortly before crossing the first of three trestle bridges. Although with spectacular views of towering gum trees pressed hard up against the line on either side, you may be forgiven for missing it altogether. When passing by Wright on a cold winter's day in July 2015, I had the warmest seat on the train, the fireman's seat. Courtesy of the Puffing Billy Railway, I was able to spend the day shadowing driver Steve and fireman Brenton aboard locomotive 12A on the run to Gembrook and back for my upcoming book.

Puffing Billy was definitely one of the highlights of my 3 day adventure around Melbourne by train, and the entire trip from Belgrave to Gembrook is featured in my book Train Tripping Around Melbourne. From Gembrook to Geelong and the MCG, I covered 365 km while exploring the best of Melbourne from the window of a train, and my book is filled with interesting facts, figures and enough funny stories to make you want to head off on a real railway adventure of your own.

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