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Sorrel checks out the Tram Museum.
Sorrel checks out the Tram Museum.
The old trams of Sydney.
Darling Street Wharf Tram.

Sydney Tramway Museum

Thursday, July 19, 2001
Take a sentimental journey through the "good old days" and check out the trams that used to rattle across Sydney.

Sydneysiders over 40 will vividly remember the days when trams rattled across the city, taking people to work on weekdays and the beach on weekends. A visit to the Sydney Tramway Museum in Loftus will be a real sentimental journey for them. For anyone who can't recall those times, the experience will give them a little taste of the "good old days".

The first trams were horsedrawn and started running in 1861 from Circular Quay to Cleveland Paddock. They were replaced by steam trams in 1879 but because of hills on the north shore and around Edgecliff, cable-drawn trams were installed.

Finally, electric traction was developed in the 1890s and in 1899, the Ultimo Power House was built. Tramways were quickly laid and became the predominant mode of carrying people around the city. New lines stretched to unsettled areas and supported rapid residential development to places previously inaccessible.

With the horseless carriage becoming a viable proposition and the advent of diesel buses, trams slowly became redundant and abandoned. The wisdom of this is still debated in some quarters, especially considering their continued use in Melbourne.

Fortunately, their history is recorded at the Sydney Tramway Museum, which is run by volunteers with a love of trams. They also have vast knowledge of the treasures on display. The pride of their fleet is one they managed to save from being scrapped, and they have other beauties from Brisbane, Ballarat, Melbourne, Germany, San Francisco and Nagasaki.

Their star attraction was also used for transporting people, but in a more sinister way. Prison van 948 once carried prisoners between Darlinghurst Court and Long Bay gaol. One of Australia's most notorious felons, Darcy Dugan, escaped by cutting a hole in the tram's roof, but was recaptured three days later.

Visitors to the museum are encouraged to take a ride on one of the fully restored trams. One line runs 3km into the Royal National Park, following the original Princes Highway. The red gravel road was built in 1920 and named after the Prince of Wales who was in Australia on a visit and wanted to drive to Wollongong in a new fangled motor car.

Taking the tram into the park is a wonderful way to spend a day. Tram in — enjoy the beauty of the bush and have a picnic lunch — then tram back.

The other line takes passengers to the museum, and there is also a shop, kiosk and picnic area.


Loftus, a suburb in Sydney's south


The Sydney Tramway Museum costs $12 for adults and $6 for children. Tram rides are unlimited. They are open Wednesdays 10 - 3 pm, Sundays 10 - 5pm and also Public Holidays 10 - 5pm (except Christmas Day).
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

The Sydney Tramway Museum
Pitt Street and Princes Highway
Ph: (02) 9542 3646
Fax: (02) 9545 3390

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