The 861 Footplate Experience is now available, departing from Belgrave 40km east of Melbourne, for an unforgettable do-it-yourself ride on the iconic Puffing Billy. This is certainly the ultimate for train enthusiast but surely anyone would be delighted at the chance to drive a 120-year-old Footplate locomotive, with direction from an expert Puffing Billy Railway Driver, or go along for the ride as friends and family are welcomed with exclusive use of the carriages.

Coaching in lighting the fire, steering, and (luckily) braking is provided as the train steams along the challenges of the finely preserved railway line through the gorgeous Dandenong Ranges.

Refreshments and a certificate of completion are included, with the options of booking morning and afternoon tea and lunch for the entire party. No previous experience is necessary and The Puffing Billy Railway is a not-for-profit organization with the proceeds supporting the Climax Locomotive Restoration Program – a first class gift idea.

Available weekends in March to November with other dates negotiable. Costs $1500, (03) 9757-0607, www.puffingbilly.com.au