Circumnavigating Australia — Boarding Puffing Billy at Menzies Creek


Locomotive 8A

The Puffing Billy locomotives are V.R. (Victoria Railways) NA Class steam locomotives. Of the seventeen NA Class locomotives built, the first two were supplied by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Pennsylvania. The remaining fifteen were manufactured in Australia at V.R.’s Newport Workshops. That includes today’s featured Locomotive 8A, which was built in 1908:

V.R. Newport Workshops; this locomotive was built there in 1908

You got a good look at Locomotive 14A on Monday, so today and for the rest of this series we’ll be concentrating on Locomotive 8A, which supplied to us the power for this day’s journey. From the Puffing Billy website on Locomotive 8A:

Built in 1908 and painted Canadian Pacific red & dark brown, this locomotive was issued to the Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook line. Over the years, it saw service on the Colac to Crowes and Moe to Walhalla lines, but it saw more service on the Gembrook line than any other. It was withdrawn from service in 1955 at Upper Fern Tree Gully and sold to the Beaumaris City Council where it remained on static display until 1970. After storage at Newport & Ballarat North Workshops, it was brought to Belgrave in 1976 for restoration. It was returned to service in 1982 after a complete rebuild in close to its late 1920s condition with its extended bunker & modified front end including the tapered “stovepipe” smokestack, steel cow-catcher and the all-over Black livery.

Locomotive 8A

Our originating station for this trip was Menzies Creek Railway Station, some of which you saw on Monday.

Railway crossing at Menzies Creek

It would be a while before our train was assembled and ready for departure, as Locomotive 14A had to be disconnected, and Locomotive 8A jockeyed into position.

Locomotive 8A positioning carriages

Locomotive 8A on a siding

A word about the rolling stock you’ll see on this trip. These were NBH carriages. N stood for narrow-gauge, B meant the carriage was for second-class passengers, and H indicates usage for holiday traffic. From the Puffing Billy website:

SECOND-CLASS EXCURSION CAR. The H was recognising their use for “Holiday” traffic. 15 of these cars were built in 1919 and numbered 1-15. Two more were built in 1981, and numbered 16 & 17. Two extended versions for wheelchair passengers were built in 1981 & 1983. These were numbered 51 & 52 – a separate number series due to the different type of vehicle.

Six, numbered 18-23, were built in 1997-98. These had steel frames, padded seats, and a wide “window sill”. At first glance they look the same as the previous NBHs. There are other minor construction differences due to the use of steel framing. 18NBH entered traffic 19/4/1997; 19NBH on 5/12/1997; 20NBH on 19/12/1997, the others added in 1998.

Here you see a locomotive engineer concentrating on his work:

Engineer at work

Put it all together and you get this:

A complete Puffing Billy train

For more information:

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