By PETER DOUGLAS
PUFFING Billy Railway’s ‘Day Out with Thomas’ is set to call Gembrook Station home after organisers sought a switch to a larger location.
The move from Emerald Station will also coincide with a rejuvenation of the event, a day out for children which has flourished and continued to grow since its introduction a decade ago.
The planned refresher will include a new imagination station and more room for activities.
Marketing manager at Puffing Billy, Nadine Hutchins, said the move needed to happen.
“Our long-term plan is to develop Gembrook Station into an events location,” she said.
“Emerald has served us well, but it was just getting too small … we were bursting at the seams.
“We had 18,000 people attend last year throughout our spring and autumn seasons.
“The move will make it less crowded and more pleasant for guests.”
Ms Hutchins was confident there would be little opposition to the move and most would understand their reasoning.
She expected there would be a boost for local traders at Gembrook, as well as the local market, with more guests being drawn to the town.
So far, Ms Hutchins said the move had little effect on projected crowd numbers.
“We’re already quarter-booked for next season, so that shows that people are willing to travel to Gembrook,” she said.
“However, there are still people who travel to Belgrave, because that’s where they think Puffing Billy lives.
“We’d just like to remind them that Thomas and his friends will, in fact, be in Gembrook.”
The planned activities next season will include ‘meet the Fat Controller’, jumping castles, animal nursery, face painting, rides on Bulgy Bus and much more.
Ms Hutchins said with the extra space at Gembrook, there would be better photo opportunities with Thomas and his friends.
Meanwhile, Puffing Billy Railway Event Manager, Matt Collopy, said there was great scope to further develop the event in the coming years.
“‘A Day Out with Thomas’ is one of the most popular events on Puffing Billy’s calendar, with the highlight being the 35-minute train ride with Thomas and his friends, Percy and Diesel, through the changing landscape of rolling pastures and native forests,” he said.
“We hope everyone can come and join us for a fun family day out to share the magic of Thomas and his friends at Puffing Billy Railway,” he said.
Adult tickets are the same price as a child (aged 4 years and over), with these all-inclusive tickets only $35 per person, $20 for toddlers (aged 1 to 3 years) and free for children under 1 year.
Adventures take place on 15 October and 16, 22 and 23; and 5 November and 6, 12 and 13.
Bookings are essential.
For more information, or to book, visit www.puffingbilly.com.au.