I had great difficulty persuading anyone to take my admission money when I checked out the Sydney Tramway Museum. Eventually, a gentleman dressed as a tram conductor, on the second tram I rode, correctly answered my question “Do you think I look like a concession?” and I decided the operation was simply relaxed.
Similarly, when I made my second visit to the deserted refreshment cabin it was another tram driver who actually provided me with a plastic cup, a teabag and a large carton of milk – and a ceramic mug to dispose of the wet teabag. The whole experience was very relaxed.
Finding the Museum is a matter of deduction. There’s virtually no signage: resting trams can be seen from the platform of Loftus railway station, but it requires navigation to find a way into the site.
Two tram-rides are on offer in opposite directions, out-and-back trips where the entertainment at the outer end is watching the crew reverse the trolley poles.
The display hall has a fascinating collection, not always well displayed. There are welcome invitations to climb aboard some trams, including the Sydney prison tram, 948, which is difficult to photograph because of the photo display boards propped against its sides. Displays throughout are copious and labelled in detail.
It’s apparent, though, that a significant proportion of the fleet of trams is off limits to visitors. It’s a pity there isn’t an escorted tour of the workshops and other storage areas where interesting-looking relics in a variety of liveries lurk.
A huge amount of volunteer effort has gone into this well-resourced museum, and further development is afoot behind a fine Victorian façade beside the track. In time to come, when there are attractions at the termini and high-quality shop and refreshment facilities, the Museum will provide a magnificent day out.
This is the place to learn about Sydney’s complex, interesting and much lamented tram system. If you’re passionate about steel wheels on steel rails it’s a must. At present, though, for a simple outing it’s a bit of an effort. http://www.sydneytramwaymuseum.com.au.
There is well-edited footage of the final week of Sydney’s tram services in 1961 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SADQyImniSI.