Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tourist in your town Belgrave

We decided to take a trip to Belgrave last Sunday. We caught a Comeng train from Flinders Street Station and slowly went through the burbs, the tiny single fronted houses of Richmond to the larger Camberwell houses to the substanial old Box Hill houses. There was a nasty gap of houses around Bayswater with its many factories but from then on it became more and more bushy.

There were some stations I had forgotten, such as Chatam and Heatherdale. As the distance between stations increased, the train reached a cracking pace of about 80kmh. I love speed when there is a professional at the controls. I think it must be the steepest railway line in Melbourne. I was quite conscious of the steady climb. When returning, apart from a little power to move off from the station, the train rolled most of the way. It was a very pleasant and quiet trip up. R had warned me that smack heads might be on the train between Box Hill and Ringwood, but all was calm.

Belgrave is a nice enough town built on the side of a valley. It has a curved main street and lots of ups and downs and this makes it more interesting. Unfortunately is overwhelmed by motor cars and they really do detract from the ambiance.

We had a snack and coffee at a bakery and were bothered by European wasps. I have not seen these critters for years and assumed they had all disappeared.

This old bluestone building pictured surprised me. No idea of its purpose. There was a police station just a couple of hundred metres from the main street, but up the steepest hill you can imagine. Perhaps Belgrave's way of keeping its crime figures low. No one would walk up that hill to report a crime.

I saw a live music venue and noted some of the top notch bands scheduled to perform there. R already knew about the venue from workmates.

Belgrave's real claim to fame is that it is a terminus for the Puffing Billy steam train. I have been on the train before and have no intention of travelling on it again, but we were lucky enough to be at the station when it pulled in after its journey from Emerald Lake and watched the engine shunt from one end of the train to the other.

We did not stay in Belgrave for very long as there wasn't a lot to interest us. As we were leaving, R explained to a woman with two children the need to validate their tickets so that they will get out of the barriers at Flinders Street Station. We boarded the nearest carriage of the train as did they. I knew it wasn't going to be good when one of the kids jumped straight up onto a seat and stood there. The were absolutely dreadful brats and we moved to the other end of the carriage to get away from them where we both moaned on about how badly behaved many kids are when out in public, as your older person does.

We had to change to the Lilydale train at Ringwood Station and it was getting busy. At Blackburn we were invaded by many many Indians. Is there a good Hindi dvd shop in Blackburn? As a couple of them were obviously Sikhs, I correctly guessed, confirming later, that there was temple at Blackburn. But the b.o. pong from the one who sat opposite me was awful and there was no where to move to. Just had to put up with it all the way to Flinders Street.

We left the train at Flinders Street and headed for the first available tram to go home, but there was the woman with the two brats headed for the same tram. We looked at each other and the across to Transport Bar and decided we needed a drink. Halfway across, I thought it might be nicer to have a drink on the river bank at Riverside. I really like this predominantly outdoor bar. A couple of drinks and we were in a better frame of mind to go home. It was nanna nap time by then anyway.

Pics are the Belgrave main street, the old building from Safeway car park, Puffing Billy and Eureka tower from Riverside.


  1. Nice pics, haven't been on the Puffing Billy for ages and ages. Must take my kids there one day soonish.
    Other half took my baby Mia on the train to town yesterday. An old man sat next to her, she said, "Daddy, could you please kick this man off the train, he stinks"...apparently, he did stink, and my other half told her to hush up. I laugh now, but if I was there I would have told her off.
    I took 3 of my kids in by train to the NYE celebrations. They sat still the whole way. The teenagers were the ones who did not sit still, they were, after-all, paint sniffers, I kid you not.
    I moved my kids to another seat where they couldn't see this happening, but they aren't dumb, so I educated them on what NOT to do, so to preserve their brain cells.

  2. "I have been on the train before and have no intention of travelling on it again"

    Now that surely needs explaining ... :-)

  3. Anonymous12:42 pm

    Awe, lovely photos!

    Rosanna lives right near Chatham, but closer to Canterbury. You passed min home!

  4. I have to say your trains are always cleaner than ours.
    Then again, our transport system as a whole is pretty shite, so it wouldn't be too hard.

  5. Nice photos.

    I went on puffing billy when I was 5 years old. It was a fairly miserable day as the rain was pouring down but nevertheless a fantastic ride.

    I thought the Broady line had a fairly steep grade considering the runaway from Broadmeadows to the rear end of a vline train at Spencer Street a few years back.

  6. You should take them on PB Cazzie. But I suggest other half takes the car to the next station or two from where you depart and pick you up. It is a long, slow uncomfortable trip.

    Does that answer your question Ron?

    I did think of you of Rosanna and I was going to add something like 'waved to Rosanna when we were near Canterbury' but ran out of time.

    In my experience Steph, they are not. Apart from the lack of air con on some of them, they always look clean to me. Except for the perspex upper window part that is scratched cloudy from cleaning.

    Bobby, I read the full report on the runaway Broady train. It was a tense read, especially the way one driver got his train out of the way, just. I saw a recent tv show on a runaway Californian train. Scary. But I reckon the Belgrave line is so steep, a ranaway could take out half of Ringwood.....not a bad thing perhaps.

  7. And Cazzie, smelly people on public transport are a problem. Regs say passengers offensive to others shall not be carried, but I am sure you know how difficult that would be.

    I really don't mind kids in high spirits, I just hate when they run in an uncontrolled riot.

  8. Sounds like a nice relaxed kinda day, shame about the b.o. tho, that would have really spoilt the day.

  9. "It is a long, slow uncomfortable trip"

    Says it all, Andrew.

  10. I never had any trouble with my kids on the train. I had only one rule, annoy anyone and you're out at the next station while I stay on the train. My left shoulder is down by 3 inches from years of carrying, lego, matchbox cars, band-aids and a Swiss Army knife.
    I find it's usually kids who've always travelled by car who are the pests.
    Have you ever taken the old steam trains to Ballarat?

  11. It is relaxing Jo. There are only really three suburban destinations that are pleasant; Belgrave, Hurstbridge and Williamstown. I will have to look further afield, to the country.

    Yeah Ron, a couple of kilmetres would be ok.

    Jah Teh, I learnt about balancing my load of bottles, three in one bag and three in the other, so no saggy shoulder.

    Not been on any other steam train, but would like to go on a proper big one.

  12. I luuuurve Puffing Billy. It's so dodgy it's fun. Heh.

  13. I really don't mind kids in high spirits, I just hate when they run in an uncontrolled riot.

    Yes, me too, adn if my kids ever do that, they would be taken straight home no matter where we were and put to their room for the night!!!

  14. Anonymous10:35 am

    Steamrail Victoria run proper big steam trains. The comfort level is somewhat higher than Puffing Billy. Then again, it's just not the same if you can't hang your feet out the window as you travel...

  15. Thanks Anon. I plan to one day.