Published on : Friday, December 3, 2021
The Andrews Labour Government has ensured the future of one of Victoria’s most popular and iconic tourist attractions, Puffing Billy Railway, with a new $24.8 million Visitor Centre officially opened today.
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula joined Member for Monbulk James Merlino and community representatives to unveil the state-of-the-art Centre, which will serve thousands of visitors each week at Lakeside Station in the heart of the Dandenong Ranges.
Backed by a $12.7 million investment from the Labor Government, the Lakeside Visitor Centre will help attract a new generation of Puffing Billy enthusiasts as the much-loved train service returns to daily service.
The Lakeside Visitor Centre delivers premium facilities and attractions for tourists, day-trippers and school groups, honouring the rich history of the century-old heritage steam railway through a collection of steam-era artefacts and an immersive multimedia experience.
The Centre boasts a range of dining options featuring seasonal produce from the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges, as well as a hi-tech function space to host workshops, conferences, events and school excursions.
Daily train services return to the much-loved heritage railway from today, enticing visitors back to the Dandenong Ranges in an important boost to the local economy.
Managed by the Emerald Tourist Railway Board, the open-air steam train plays an important role in preserving Victoria’s railway history and delivers an unforgettable journey through scenic bushland that attracted more than 500,000 visitors annually prior to the pandemic.
The Lakeside Visitor Centre was co-funded by Puffing Billy Railway and the Commonwealth Government.
The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula said that Puffing Billy is loved by Victorians and visitors and with these terrific new facilities will continue to win hearts for generations to come.
The Visitor Centre gives an historic railway a very modern lift and comes on line at the right time as we open up as an economy and tourism businesses plan for a strong recovery.
The Member for Monbulk James Merlino said that Puffing Billy is much more than a train ride – it has created memorable moments for tourists, day-trippers and school groups for over a century.
The new Centre will ensure the railway continues to be a significant draw-card for the region into the future, underpinning important jobs.