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The first thing you will notice when you turn off the main road into the sports ground car park that adjoins the train station is just how busy it is. The car parks are full, the toilets have a queue and people are lining up past the ticket box waiting for a ride on one of the miniature trains. There are fast food sellers and the local Lions club sausage sizzle is located between the train station and the playground. Not to mention pony rides down the back towards the equestrian centre that charge $5 to walk 50 metres one way then back again.
Before writing this review we visited on consecutive weekends. Our first visit was on the teddy bears picnic weekend that saw over 6,000 people ride on the trains. We revisited to find smaller crowds but still more people than we expected on a cool, event free day.
Further reading shows that in July 2006, DVR celebrated their two and half millionth customer since their first passenger in 1961.
When you arrive for your train ride make sure you go straight to the ticket box to buy tickets so you don't loose your spot in the queue. Tickets are only $3 per person per ride whilst under 2's ride for free.
The queue moved very slowly on the teddy bears picnic day, with both of the platforms full and people queuing way past the ticket box, it took about 50 minutes. But on the following Sunday with still a fair few people queuing and one platform open we got on the train within 15 minutes.
Whilst standing at the platform it will give you a good amount of time to see some of the many miniature steam and diesel trains whiz by with excited passengers.
The train journey is scenic and set in natural bushland. The two kilometre track goes over bridges, through two tunnels, up and down slight rises and descents, through the middle track of the main station for a second smaller loop. All up the ride lasts about 15 minutes depending on the train you get assigned to (diesel trains are slightly faster than the steam trains).
The Diamond Valley Railway is run entirely by a dedicated bunch of volunteers who keep the track in tip top condition they service and look after the various engines and take passengers on rides around the track. New members are always in demand so if you think it could be for you then have a look at the information available here from their webpage.
Next door to the train line is the Lower Eltham playground. The playground is lovely and new with great play equipment and is fully fenced. But the downside is that it's extremely popular and young children are going to find it difficult to get a turn on most of the equipment. Another great alternative is to visit the nearby Eltham North Adventure Playground.
If you're not fussed on what weekend you're going to visit the railway then why not visit the Eltham Community market for something extra to do in the area.
So why not make a day of it, visit the playgrounds, buy some items from the local market, have a BBQ lunch next to the railway and most of all enjoy your miniature railway ride.