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Published January 4th 2013
Take a ride on a wooden tram to Brunswick St or Docklands
It's hard to believe this tram has been running the streets of Melbourne since 1923. And it does feel as if it can go on without too much trouble to celebrate a century in another ten years' time. I'm talking about Tram 30 that runs from St. Vincent's Plaza to the Docklands via La Trobe Street.
The familiar green and yellow toy look-alike has saved me tonnes of dollars in terms of inner city parking. I hop on at St. Vincent's Plaza where it begins its trip and get off anywhere along Latrobe street at either Lonsdale or Elizabeth street corners and make my way to Bourke or wherever.
Point is, I love that ride. The little wooden tram chugs along with an old world charm making it easy to believe you're a time traveller peering into the 21st century. The tram has its own spot under the massive evergreen trees along Vic Parade where it waits while the driver grabs refreshments before setting out to the CBD yet again. The swanky new Collins St trams go by bringing into stark contrast the world of difference between the 1923 creation and the modern version.
But in spite of all the comforts and streamlined proportions of the modern version there is an elegance about the old tram that the new ones simply do not have. Made of sturdy timber and sporting glass sliding doors and windows it looks like it just drove off the pages of an old history book. In all the time I've been riding this tram it's never ever been filled to capacity. There will only be a handful of people lost in reverie and staring out the window. In fact when I first saw this tram I couldn't believe it was actually taking passengers.
The only modern gizmo here is the new Myki that really stands out like an ugly pimple on a pretty face. The seats are old-world and kind of lumpy and the interior almost primitive compared to the rest of the Yarra tram fleet. But you can imagine men in top hats and women in long skirts boarding this very tram when it was probably hailed as a modern convenience in the 1930s.
The historic contraption springs to life with a shudder and then harrumphs into action almost like an octogenarian waking up from a nap on the couch at some unexpected racket the grandkids made. It makes its way along the picturesque route 30 towards the city passing Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Buildings before turning onto Latrobe Street. Right along this route are RMIT, the State Library, Melbourne Central, Flagstaff Gardens, Etihad Stadium, and so on to the Docklands.
The dark red city circle tram is probably of the same era, but then Tram 30 is as far as I can tell, the only one of its generation that's still doing duty as a passenger tram. From the city you can hop on if you're intending to go to Brunswick Street or thereabouts or the other way onto the Docklands. It's a ride with a difference any which way you look at it. You can get more details about the route and the timetable here.