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Taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH1 point & shoot in January 2011 at Emerald on the Puffing Billy Line in the Dandenong Ranges, East of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. HDR in Simply HDR for Mac.
The Puffing Billy railway was one of four low-cost 2’6" (762mm) gauge lines constructed in Victoria in the early 1900s to open up remote areas.
The present line between Belgrave and Gembrook, through the forests, fern gullies and farmlands of the magnificent Dandenong Ranges, is the major part of the line which opened on 18 December 1900 and operated over 18.2 miles (29km) between Upper Ferntree Gully and Gembrook until 1953. In 1953, a landslide blocked the track and, because of operating losses, the line was closed the following year.
Public interest resulted in the formation of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, whose volunteers, with the blessings of the Victorian State Government and the assistance of the Citizens’ Military Forces, by-passed the landslide and reopened the line to Menzies Creek in 1962, Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975 and finally to Gembrook in October 1998.
Loco 861 was built in 1886 for the West Melbourne site of the Metropolitan Gas Company, as a four-wheel tank locomotive and named “John Benn”. It was withdrawn from service in the 1930s and stored until sold privately in 1962. It was rebuilt by its new owners in the style of an American locomotive of the 1880s and was used for some years at Walhalla. It currently has the name “J.C. Rees” and is used for the Puffing Billy 861 Footplate Experience and for Thomas The Tank Engine Days.