Puffing Billy, Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia
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History & heritage

Get your hands dirty on historic properties and enjoy the romance of steam travel as you experience the daily struggles and genteel pleasures of the past in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. 

The start of the story
Mount Dandenong was originally known as Corhanwarrabul (the present-day site of Burke's Lookout is also known as Mount Corhanwarrabul) and was the summer hunting place for the Bunurong people from Western Port and the Woiworung people from the Kulin nation.

Botanist Daniel Bunce's 1840s foray into the Dandenong Ranges marked the first recorded European expedition. Wholesale clearing began in the 1850s when the settlers moved in, before the state forest was established in 1867.

Learn more about Victorian Koorie culture and their historical and contemporary relationship to the Dandenong Ranges at Burrinja Gallery in Upwey.

Over in the Yarra Valley, the area around Healesville was originally occupied by the Yarra Yarra or Wurrundjeri Aboriginal group. By 1863 these peoples were settled at the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reservation on Badger Creek, which soon became Victoria's largest and best-known Aboriginal reserve until its closure in 1924. Visit Healesville Sanctuary to learn more about the area's Aboriginal history.

Steam travel through fern gullies and thick forest
Jump aboard Puffing Billy, the pride and joy of the Dandenong Ranges and a symbol of the area's status as a refined weekend destination in the pre-war years. Picture yourself as an intrepid early-1900s tourist, travelling along the narrow-gauge track across trestle bridges and toiling up hills between Belgrave and Gembrook. Complete the experience with a meal of Yarra Valley food and wine in a first-class dining carriage. 

Stop in at historic gardens around the ranges for a glimpse into refined days gone by, and pick up souvenirs from your voyage into Victoria's past at antique shops around Sassafras. 

The daily struggles and ultimate rewards of the region's pioneers
Check out the farm implements and household items that reveal daily life for Yarra Valley pioneers at Gulf Station, almost unchanged since the 1850s when it serviced gold miners. See how blacksmiths operated and explore the museum, gardens and homestead at Mont de Lancey.

Puffing Billy crosses the Trestle Bridge

Puffing Billy Steam Railway

All aboard for a ride on Australia's oldest steam railway, through thick forests and lush fern gullies, or travel first class for olden-times romance.

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Burrinja Theatre at Night

Burrinja Cultural Centre

Burrinja Cultural Centre is a vibrant community cultural centre that encompasses performing arts, Indigenous gallery, contemporary arts gallery,...

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Mont De Lancey Historic Homestead

Mont De Lancey Historic Homestead Museum

Come and enjoy the Mont De Lancey experience; located less than an hour's drive from Melbourne in the stunning Yarra Valley, it is an excellent...

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Coombe Yarra Valley - the Melba Estate

Coombe Yarra Valley - Coombe The Melba Estate

Coombe Farm was once the home of legendary soprano Dame Nellie Melba and is still owned and operated by her direct descendants, the Vestey family....

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Yarra Valley Railway

Yarra Valley Railway

Come and enjoy a heritage railway ride from Healesville Station through the beautiful Yarra Valley to the 150 metre long brick tunnel on the Yarra...

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Gulf Station

Gulf Station

Gulf Station began in the 1840's as part of a 25,000 acre run known as the Gulf. The Bell family began their lives here in the late 1840's and the...

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Family activities