“The idea was to create something like a top-notch hotel feel,” quotes The Mercury of Richard Nilsson, the Swedish designer behind the new look of the twin Spirit of Tasmania ferries which travel between Port Melbourne (Victoria) and Devonport (Tasmania).
I won’t bore you with how many return trips we’ve taken aboard one or other of the ferries (strangely, it’s been more often number II), but since the refurbishments were completed in August we have been keen to see for ourselves what has changed. (If you haven’t been before, or if it’s been a while, check out my photos of before the refurbishments here.)
Having received permission to come aboard (you had to apply in the week or two before the Open Day) we decided to catch a tram (well, two trams) across town to Port Melbourne. The route 109 tram stops about 100m from Station Pier. Given we live pretty close to a tram stop, and the high likelihood of experiencing lots of bother trying to find a park had we taken the car, tramming it was definitely the way to go.
Cool! Stilt walkers, balloons, and mini SoT’s! Getting excited now!
There’s the big ship! I’ve never walked through here before!
They even had SoT hats! (and no event is complete without a BBQ)
There weren’t queues, but enough people were wandering in the right direction so it was unlikely anyone was going to get lost – even if there hadn’t been plenty of red-shirted, boat-hatted people greeting people and making sure we didn’t get lost.
Up in the check-in lounge there were a dozen or so Tasmanian tourist stands, to whet the appetite of prospective travellers.
There were about a dozen information stalls to help you plan your next holiday
A bit of Tassie for everyone in the Check-in Lounge
Passing by all the photos in the hall I started to feel the usual excitement I get when we board the big red boat. Pity we weren’t sailing off to Tassie today!
Lots of fabulous photos – many places we’ve been, some still to discover
I guess ‘The Revamped’ would have been a bit long…
Ooooh! How exciting! Everything is about to be revealed!
Hmmm, this bit feels like Crown Casino… (I haven’t boarded this way before so I don’t know if this has changed or not.)
Oooh, I almost feel like I’m in Crown Casino!
First change – no tourism shop. Now there’s a Tourism Hub. There is a desk to the left where (hopefully) a staff member will be there to answer any questions passengers have.
The Tourism Hub replaces Tourism Onboard at the rear of Deck 7
Lots of pamphlets still, and a screen of course
Walking up the port (left) side of the ship there is now a BYO Library (officially named the Reading Room) where there used to be The Leatherwood Restaurant. Clearly this area is for quiet activities – if you want to make noise, there is plenty of space on upper decks.
Leatherwood Restaurant has become a BYO library
The light shade in the ‘library’ was very nice – scrolls of huon pine – Deck 7
Next to the library is the new reception area. I wouldn’t have chosen red, and continuing red along the corridor seemed a little over the top, but hey – that’s just my opinion, and it’s just a small area of Deck 7.
Not sure if it feels more like a school corridor or fire department, but it is very red around this small section of Deck 7 now
Turning the corner was the next surprise – the new shop! The Pantry will almost certainly meet your (or the kids’) sugar/salt/caffeine requirements, but the most notable difference is the lack of souveniers now. (I hope you stocked up on your last trip as we did!)
Tasmania Onboard has become The Pantry
The Pantry has also kicked out the pokies! And I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go. It was the only inclusion I really disliked about the previous layout of the ships.
Ahead was more lounge area, with a touch of blue, and lovely Tasmanian scenery instead of TV screens.
The pokies have gone! And so is all the red furnishings from before. Very club-like here
The use of evocative Tasmanian imagery (all in greyscale) throughout the ship works well
The old reception area is now also lounge, as is where the shop (Tasmania Onboard) used to be.
Reception used to be straight ahead, and the shop to the right
I’m not certain if anything has changed in the cinemas, but this is how they are now. Red on the left, and blue on the right. (I don’t think you have to read too much into that.)
Left-side cinema has red seats
Right-side cinema has blue seats
Onto the cabins.
Not much has changed. ‘Soft furnishings’ simply means the blinds, possibly the upholstery on the chairs, and I’m fairly sure the carpet in the rooms has been replaced. The bunks and bathrooms appear to be the same as usual. The Deluxe suites feel noticeably smaller, but they’re still a lot roomier than any of the other cabins. (Note: the 4 bed porthole cabin photo was from Deck 8)
Four bed cabin on Deck 7
New soft furnishings in the cabins – Twin porthole cabin, Deck 7
Four bed porthole cabin, Deck 8
A corner deluxe suite, Deck 7
A brief spell outdoors (still on Deck 7)…
It’s a nice day to be on the outside deck, and there’s a ship along-side us!
I guess we’re refuelling
…past the place we used to hang out, read a paper and have a drink whilst waiting until it was time for dinner – the lavender of Bridestowe has been replaced by the Aurora Australis…
Different furnishings again, now heading down the starboard side of Deck 7
Celebrating the Aurora Australis, the southern lights
…before finally getting a look at the new dining area. Goodbye Captains Table. Hello TMK (The Market Kitchen)! No more table service and white table cloths, I’m afraid. Now we’re all taking a tray and loading our own plates, I think. The menu looks familiar, but I wonder how long it’ll last. As for the condiments rack? Hmmm, classy.
TMK is now the only dining area aboard
The menu from the Leatherwood, the service from the Captain’s Table
I think the condiments rack does spoil it a little
Dining area extends all the way down to the stern of Deck 7
More scrolled wood lightshades for the Tasmanian touch
I think this light was there previously…?
Well, that’s Deck 7 covered. Sleeping, eating, and a bit of lounging.
Unless you’re sleeping on Deck 8, there won’t be much there to see for you – unless you’re here on an open day! So, check it out!
The Recliners have all been replaced. I had a brief sit in one. It felt pretty good, but I’m not in a hurry to give up booking a cabin in favour of the ‘cheap seats’ – especially as I like having a shower at least once every 24 hours. But if you’re not so fussy, and if you’re not taking a whole pile of luggage with you (or planning to bring a lot of souvenirs back), then these might be the best option for you.
The Recliners on Deck 8 have all been replaced so they should be better than ever
Native Tasmanian woods are much admired. It was nice to see them used onboard
Moving up to Deck 9 now – brace yourselves!
Rear of Deck 9 is where things started to get realy funky
Well, they said it would be different. It’s all to encourage more day sailing passengers.
Fake grass is an interesting idea
Another bar which will apparently be open for day and night sails
More funky furnishings – I didn’t test how well they slide around
I thought I’d discovered the pokies, but no – it’s a different gaming space!
It actually looks nice outside today, but the sheltered door is designed that way for a reason
Deck 9 always felt more weather tight than Deck 10, so having lounge areas here wasn’t too surprising. But would there be more of the same upstairs?
Well, no. It was More.
Deckchairs and fake grass on Deck 10
Deck 10 is for lounging with an ‘outdoorsy’ feel
Lights and TV’s everywhere
A play area for small, but not too small kids on Deck 10
I’m sure they’ve thought about things sliding around in heavy seas. Of course they have. Because not every sail is a pleasant day like this one was.
Spirit of Tasmania 1 sign and flags
Outside on top Deck 10 – it’s often too cold and windy to stay out here too long, but today was perfect
It was breezy enough to fly the flag
Now how do you get everyone up on Deck 10 to come down again? Send up the band!
Hey hey! It’s the band come to entertain us on Deck 10
It turns out the engaging trio were a ruse to get us to follow them the stairwell and out
They were very good, and I’ll wager that most of the people upstairs followed them to see where they went, not knowing that we were being surreptitiously being escorted out.
Playing and walking down the stairs was quite a trick. I’m not sure where the trio exited, but we had to walk down to Deck G3; this is usually a cargo/freight deck. Cars are usually parked on Decks 5 & 6, sometimes Deck 4 if it’s really busy.
Never been on G3 before – usually freight comes on this level
The stairwell-lift area mid-ship
Head for the light!
And that was it! We disembarked at ground level and were treated to a fantastic sight of the Spirit of Tasmania – you may recognise it from their ads. I find it fascinating the way the sides at the front also come away from the ship.
So, overall impression?
Bass Strait is not the Mediterranean; the weather ranges from windy to blowing a gale, so the ‘bringing the outdoors in’ idea with the use of the fake grass and garden furniture struck a chord that didn’t resonate true with my memories of previous crossings.
I didn’t test the furniture to see if it was bolted to the floor, but there is a lot on Deck 9 & 10 that looked like it wasn’t secured. If bad weather is forecasted, there may be a lot for the staff to put away for passenger’s safety. It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts.
Ditto with the bars on those levels. I was advised that the Bars on Decks 9 & 10 would be open for day sailings (as you’d expect) andwinter sailings (for at least a few hours. Something to watch with interest. I certainly hope that Deck 10 is a little more air-tight now, as it used to get a bit chilly up there during winter.
We are both very sorry that The Leatherwood restaurant has been scrapped. Having only one sitting a night did not improve profitability, but the demand was certainly there to do two sittings – even in winter. Now, instead of racing to get a restaurant reservation, I wonder if we’ll be hurrying to get a small table for dinner – despite the expanded dining area.
It’ll be interesting to compare our next voyage to our previous experiences.
Many Melburnians escape winter by flying north, desiring sun and sandy beaches on their too-short escapes from our traditionally cold and wet weather at this time of year.
Redcliffe, actually – just north of Brisbane. The best I could lay my hands on right now, but you get the point.
We travelled south for a holiday of fire and ice.
Fire Organ en flambe at ‘Dark Park’ during Dark Mofo
An icy morning in South Hobart
And it was awesome!
To contrast our summer holiday in Hobart, we thought we’d return to experience winter. Happily, our holiday almost perfectly coincided with this year’s Dark Mofo celebrations (we arrived the day after they started), so we were once again out on the streets with many Hobartians enjoying the festival atmosphere – just somewhat more rugged up now compared to how we’d been dressed 5 months prior.
Dark Mofo is what you make of it. Feasting? There were five nights of gorging available this year. Entertainment? If you were too full to waddle or groan your way over to ‘Dark Park’ (aka Macquarie or “Mac” Point) or participate in the numerous other Dark Mofo events happening around the city, then there were entertainers circulating at the Winter Feast.
%22Uptown Brown%22 entertaining the queue waiting for the Winter Feast to open
An entertainer at Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast
One of the two ‘clouds’ with sparkling red shoes and stockings in the crowd on the last night
The audience kept warm around fires in metal drums while listening to the live music and feasting from the stall both inside and outside the Princes Wharf Shed
However, making that effort to wander over to Dark Park was definitely worth it, even if we didn’t get to see everything…
“Angry Electrons” by Jason James where the lights pulsed as people moved beneath
A celebration of pigs in the courtyard behind the Henry Jones Hotel
Hendricks Parlour of Curiosities was in the lot between the Fire Organ and the Solid Light Works at Dark Park
Anthony McCall’s “Solid Light Works” was enthralling
I’d recognise that head anywhere – it’s mine!
Fire Organ en flambe at ‘Dark Park’ during Dark Mofo
But aside from the Dark Mofo events, which were mostly run of an evening – what did we do in Hobart for 10 days?
We visited the Cascade Female Factory and learnt what life was like for many women who were sent to (or chose to) come to Hobart. The re-enactment tour called Her Story really brings this period to life, but both this and the pure historical tour are worth doing.
Simple but effective use of materials recreates structures in our minds that have ceased to exist in physical form
A chance for audience participation in the ‘Her Story’ tour at the Cascade Female Factory
Cascade Female Factory is run by the same organisation who runs the Port Arthur Historic Sites. We have been meaning to visit Port Arthur for quite some time, and I can finally now say I’ve been – albeit possibly on the coldest and wettest day of our holiday!
Ahhh – toasty warm by the fire. But the inmates wouldn’t have felt its warmth – The Separate Prison
Artifacts on display in the old Asylum
The lichens here are fantastic, but erode the sandstone – behind the Penitentiary, Port Arthur
I found the ballroom at Hobart City’s Town Hall which is gorgeous, then did a tour of Australia’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal on Campbell Street.
The ballroom at Hobart City’s Town Hall is just stunning!
View from the stage of Hobart’s Theatre Royal on Campbell Street
Having taken our Bromptons on holiday with us we were keen to explore Hobart’s bike paths – and found we were staying right next to the Hobart Rivulet track; a very convenient and safe way to either walk or ride into town from South Hobart – better than braving either Macquarie or Davey Streets as a cyclist!
Riding our Bromptons along the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city from South Hobart on an icy winter’s morning
Although we had visited MONA on our summer holiday we wanted to visit again. Our first attempt ended with having lunch across the road and a ride home in the rain as we hadn’t checked ahead and only found out on arrival that MONA is closed of a Tuesday! Our second attempt was much more successful – and worth the re-visit for the new exhibits and permanent features we missed last time.
MONA is closed on Tuesdays
Cellist & singer, Helen Gillet, was amazing as she constructed music that sounded like it was being performed by at least half a dozen people
The Chamber of Silence – Instructions for the Public. Wear Earmuffs. Be Still. Be silent.
Not hard to meditate in the Chamber of Silence, with such a lovely view
In the barrel room during the Moorilla winery tour
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) was also on the list of places to re-visit as we didn’t finish exploring it in summer. This time, the Central Gallery was lit with red lights in celebration of the winter festival, lending a slight macabre feeling to the space, but it definitely fit in with the tone the that surrounds Dark Mofo. We made sure to explore the Bond Store Galleries – another fantastic old building, brilliantly fitted, maintained and suited for the displays contained.
TMAG’s Central Gallery bathed in red for Dark Mofo
Learning about our history inside the Bond Store
I love the staircase inside the Bond Store, too
We rode along the Intercity Trail to the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Glenorchy; admired their collection, saw some volunteers hard at work, and discovered a rail line (still in use) in the north-west that we hitherto knew nothing about.
Engine M5 being driven back into the shed
A double-decker Hobart Tram – more signs of civilisation lost, as Hobart no longer runs trams or trolley buses
Exploring the Salamanca Market is always on the cards when we’re in Hobart of a Saturday morning. On this trip we both wanted to buy more Mongrel Socks, but we picked up a range of things from a number of stalls; from apple liqueur to fresh passion fruit, fudge, a hand-crafted silver thistle broach for my floppy breton (cap/hat), and Tasmanian-themed screen-printed calico shopping bags.
Even in winter Salamanca Market is bustling by mid-morning
The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street in the CBD is open every Sunday morning. If you think that Salamanca is too touristy, then this is probably the market for you. It’s definitely the farmers market to go to for local, fresh produce direct from the grower/maker that you can walk to from your city-based accommodation.
The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst St is packed with fresh produce and freshly cooked or home-made food
There’s space in the middle of the market to eat some of the great fresh food you’ve just bought
We only had time for a day trip to Bruny Island this trip, so it was more in the nature of a scouting mission for next time. Crossing the d’Entrecastaux Channel from Kettering, my hopes of walking up South Bruny Island’s Mt Mangana were dashed when our fears were confirmed – the C Grade roads (maintained by Forestry Tasmania, not the local council) were far too potholed for our Mini to traverse. I don’t think even rental cars ventured much further than we did – and that’s saying something! So, like everyone else, we had to be continent with a walk up the big sand dune at the northern end of the isthmus which connects the two islands, as well as a couple of short walks on some gorgeous beaches around Adventure Bay.
Adventure Bay sure looks perfect for a family holiday!
Bruny Island isthmus from another angle
Atop the sund dune overlooking the isthmus connecting north and south Bruny Islands
The Huon Valley is renown for good food and bountiful harvests of apples! The Apple Shed at Grove is a scenic drive from Hobart. The museum cleverly tells the story of the family who now produce Willie Smiths Cider – indulging in a delicious treat at the cafe while you’re there is highly recommended.
The Apple Shed is right on the road to Huonville, so you won’t miss it
Tools of the trade in the foreground, apple varieties on the wall in the background – the Apple Shed is a great place to learn how Tasmania became known as the ‘Apple Isle’
Mulled cider and an Apple Rillette – a heavenly winter treat at the Apple Shed
The ‘new’ Lake Pedder was on my list of places that I wanted to see, and towards the end of our trip we thought we’d drive out there. Since Mt Field National Park is on the way, we thought we’d stop for lunch and stretch our legs on the short walk to Russell Falls. If you like fungi, this really is the place for you! Mt Field really is a mycological hotspot. (I’ll come back and name them properly.) Oh, and the falls were lovely, too.
Fungi at Mt Field National Park
Yellow coral fungi at Mt Field National Park
Deflated fungi on a log, Mt Field National Park
Blue Fungi, Mt Field National Park
Fungi with peaked caps at Mt Field National Park
Green Fungi, Mt Field National Park
Possibly (not) bracket fungi, Mt Field National Park
Russell Falls, Mt Field National Park
Strathgordon is the township on the shores of Lake Pedder; it’s the last settlement on the road – 84 km of well-made, winding road along from the Mt Field NP visitor centre. Stephen had fun driving; I was amazed by the view out the window. The very end of the road is the Gordon Dam where you can park and climb down to walk along the top of the dam wall. When you’re done taking photos and playing with echos, it’s another 184km back to Hobart.
You can walk down to the Gordon Dam wall – the water level seemed pretty low to us
Dedication plaque at the Gordon Dam
The road curves its way around the base of the Sentinel Range and makes for a fantastic drive
So that’s what we did. As for what we ate? Well!
Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast ran for five nights this year (we went along on three nights). Five nights of gorging on sensational dishes from the best local restaurants and businesses. There was plenty of red meat – Tasman Quartermasters‘ Wallaby Bites with Pepperberry Aioli were very moorish, and I’ve never had a better steamed beef dumpling than those by Written on Tea, but there were also stalls preparing seafood and vegetarian meals. Naturally there was local wine, beer, cider and spirits to go with the local food – and a better selection of warmed beverages I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. Gluhwein, mulled cider, a gingery hot toddy – what a way to celebrate mid winter! But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t also get ice-cream. The deserts were every bit as marvellous as the savoury dishes! Ashbolt Farm did a marvellous crumble (they also did the fantastic gluhwein), but special mention has to be given to Lady Hester’s sourdough doughnuts! The three nights we attended just weren’t enough to taste it all; maybe if the feast was run over, say…10 days?, we just might be able to pace ourselves and have enough time to get to try all the stalls…
Ashbolt Farm’s Gluhwein and heirloom fruit crumble were both fantastic, and I love Lost Pippin Cider!
Ashbolt Farm’s Gluhwein and heirloom fruit crumble were both fantastic, and I love Lost Pippin Cider!
There was plenty of action happening outside as well
Spilling out onto the grassed areas, people enjoy dinner under the created boughs above, continuing the nest theme from inside
MONA had a number of Heavy Metal Kitchen stalls selling woodfired BBQ dishes
Ethos Eat Drink on Elizabeth Street is a perfect example of fine dining in Tasmania. With a set six course degustation menu that is completed in a more modest time frame than what you might expect when you hear ‘degustation’ and one that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re too drunk to walk out, I highly recommend Ethos to get a taste of Tasmanian produce at any time of the year. (Reservations required.)
Ethos Eat Drink – we’ve finally arrived!
There are fine cocktails (or aperitifs) to be had in The Carriageway
BarCelona was a stroke of good luck. We were hoping to eat at Smolt, but the wait staff seemed disinterested (on a Monday night we thought it’d be the opposite) so we tried the restaurant opposite to them in Salamanca Square. It’s a funky bar/restaurant with great lighting highlighting the sandstone walls of the old building. A warm fire (and adequate overhead heating) matched the warm welcome we received from the waitstaff. We weren’t overly hungry that night so we shared a tasting plate of (locally sourced produce) but succumbed to temptation and had a desert each. It was just perfect.
BarCelona is in one of the old warehouses at Salamanca Place. They’ve really used lighting effectively to highlight the original stonework – Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania, June 2015
The bar in BarCelona was quite impressive – Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania, June 2015
Le Provincal is a French restaurant one block away from where were staying on Macquarie Street in south Hobart. In summer we never saw it open (because they were on holidays) so we were intrigued. Turns out it’s a very well-known restaurant and it pays to make a reservation more than one day in advance! The dishes are expertly prepared and delicious which you expect from the reviews. It’s the murals on the walls that I was most entranced by! Extraordinarily well done, if we hadn’t been dining in winter and at night I would have believed that we were actually in a farm cottage in France in late summer! Beautiful ambiance and fantastically authentic food.
Le Provincal is a very, very short walk from the Firemans Loft – Cnr of Macquarie & Weld Streets, South Hobart
The national symbol of France is well represented at Le Provincal, in all it’s many forms
And sometimes you just feel like fish ‘n’ chips. Flathead Cafe was also just up the road from where we stayed. Since they’re a fish monger as well as a cafe, you can check for yourself just how fresh the fish is that you’re going to be eating. It looked pretty good to me (as you’d hope)! What’s more, it tasted great – not just the fish, which you’d expect, but the coleslaw too. A place that puts as much consideration into the preparation of the ‘side dish’ as they give to the main is a pretty good catch, I reckon. (Pun intended.)
Does finding a table for breakfast at 9:30am on a weekday morning in a South Hobart cafe sound tricky to you? We didn’t think so, but then we didn’t realise until we arrived at Ginger Brown that it is The place to go for brekkie in South Hobart. (Even so, you can still reserve a table! That’s unheard of in Melbourne!) So why is it so popular? Could it be because of the delightfully plump, giant marshmallow they serve with each hot chocolate? Surely it’s not for the jaffa accompanying your cappacino. No, my guess is that it’s the creative way they construct breakfasts. My house-baked crumpets were light and fluffy, Stephen’s crumble was equally delicious. We went twice (both times lucky just to get a seat in the window and not out on the cold footpath) and were impressed on both occasions.
Ginger Brown is a very popular cafe on Macquarie Street in South Hobart
Naturally we couldn’t pass up at least one brekkie at Jackman & McRoss at Battery Point. It was a cold morning when we rode in on our Bromptons, but there was enough room behind Stephen’s chair to put both and have them out of the way. The rooms aren’t crammed full of tables and chairs as you’d expect to find in a Melbourne cafe. On the other hand, you may need to wait to be seated. Since Jackman & McRoss are a proper bakery, their huge selection of baked goods to purchase and take away are all mouth-wateringly tempting – even after a filling breakfast!
Bromptons at breakfast inside the famous Jackman & McRoss bakery at Battery Point
Bromptons outside Jackman & McRoss, Battery Point, with Mt Wellington in the background
Our accommodation this trip was once again Fireman’s Loft in South Hobart. The location is perfect, especially if – like us – you’re planning to use your accommodation as a ‘base camp’ and go exploring each day; the carpark isn’t a long walk from your room, you don’t have to tackle the city traffic and there are so many conveniences nearby like Hill Street Grocer, The Lost Sock (Laundrette), chemist, newsagent, postoffice, bakery, cycle shop – it’s a great little village along Macquarie Street. On this trip we also discovered the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city was just a stone’s throw away from the Loft. The Hobart Rivulet Track is a shared path that connects Collins Street in the city with the Cascade Brewery. It’s the easiest and most pleasant (and sometimes coldest) route into and out of the city, and the safest route for cyclists. Although it is a dirt path that can freeze in winter, I still feel it’s better than mixing it with the traffic on either Macquarie or Davey Streets – it’s a much easier gradient, too.
The entrance to Firemans Loft – our accommodation in South Hobart
Bathroom at Firemans Loft
Loungeroom at Firemans Loft
The kitchen-dining room at Firemans Loft
You can book to stay at Fireman’s Loft (upstairs) or Flourish (downstairs) through either Stayz or Airbnb, but why not contact Tracey directly via the Facebook links?
I aim to (eventually) write separate posts about each of the places we visited – as well as update my Tasmania pages – as we have plenty of photos and enjoy sharing our love of Tasmania. It’s a wonderful state to explore.
When you think of Melbourne icons, our trams must surely rank in the top 5.
A Melbourne B-Class Tram (Route 86) turning at top of Bourke Street onto Spring Street in front of Parliament House
The Melbourne Tram Museum at Hawthorn is just off the Main Yarra Trail (a shared path along the Yarra River); a worthy destination for this month’s group ride.
Meeting up at Federation Square we took a few snaps (because you can’t let the chance go by), before walking past the temporary ice skating rink (as instructed) then we were underway!
Meeting up at Federation Square
Brompton folding bikes at Federations Square, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background
Walking past the temporary iceskating rink (as instructed)
Underway at last, along Princes Walk
It’s a pretty cruisey ride along the river. We followed the Yarra Trail along the north bank of the river the whole way to where Wallan Road crosses the Yarra River. Some of it is a floating walkway, but mostly it’s firm river bank.
Approaching Morell Bridge, a pedestrian and cyclists bridge which connects the Royal Botanical Gardens with the Olympic Park precinct
Some of the path ducks under CityLink (M1)
Church Street Bridge – links Church Street in Richmond on the north bank with Chapel Street in Prahran on the south
Ducking under CityLink again – almost literally along here!
Greg and Stanley zipping along the path
The Tram Museum is in a beautiful red and cream brick building on the corner of Wallan Road and Power Street, Hawthorn. Next year will be the celebration of its 100th birthday! The museum doesn’t occupy the whole of the premises any longer, and isn’t as large as the Hawthorn Depot was in its heyday. Despite now including residential units in the main building, and having a new apartment building at the back where the second shed used to be, the facade has remained as it’s protected by its listing on the Victoria Heritage Register (read more here).
The exterior of the Hawthorn Tram Depot, now containing residential apartments and the Melbourne Tram Museum
Arriving at the Tram Museum – the entrance is off Wallan Road
Totally unfazed by the arrival of a group of ‘folders’, we set our bikes and bags down while one of the volunteers gave us a bit of history about the history of the depot and a couple of the trams they have. Then we were welcome to explore and take as many photos as we wanted.
One of the volunteers giving us some of the history about the Tram Museum and trams on display
Learning about the trams and cable tram at the Melbourne Tram Museum
At the front of the tram lines (photo by Stanley Tan)
Cable Tram Trailer 256 – built in 1887 and ran on the Toorak route
Out in the public the stained glass windows wouldn’t have lasted long. In the museum they can be appreciated properly
The inside Cable Tram Trailer 256 is quite beautiful with all the wood and glass fixtures
Elsie walking between trams
Reminders of harder times
The seat back can flip around so you’re always facing forwards – love it!
Here tram drivers learn how a tram works – not just how to push the buttons that make it move and stop
Old uniforms and euipment used to teach drivers
A recent addition to their collection is the Z1 81 ‘Karachi W11’ (the link provides information on the history of the Z Class trams as well as how tram 81 came to be ‘Karachi W11’ as well. Definitely worth a read!)
In line before the eye-cathing W11 ‘Karatchi’ Tram
The inside of the W11 ‘Karatchi’ Tram was quite amazing
Everything was decorated with stickers or beads on the W11 ‘Karatchi’ Tram
The middle-door steps on the W11 ‘Karatchi’ Tram welcomed local and international visitors during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006
Folded in formation, our Brompton before the W11 ‘Karatchi’ Tram
This gorgeously extravagant tram is the work of 5 Pakastani artists and was run on Melbourne’s City Circle loop during the 2006 Commonwealth Games. A recent addition to the museum, I hope it becomes a permanent resident!
Although no questions were asked as we carried our bikes in, it’s not to say that they didn’t draw any comment at all…
“What make of bike is that?” was the first question (it’s usually a good starting point). Before long, the museum volunteer who asked had all – and more – of his questions answered by our enthusiastic group!
Discussing Brompton design with one of the tram museum volunteers
At present, the museum also has a Tramway ANZACs exhibition to honour the tramway employees who went off to fight in the Great War and the role of the tramways during that time. If you can’t visit the museum you can read more about the displays and personal stories here.
Special exhibition – Tramway ANZACs
Part of the Tramway ANZACs exhibition at the Melbourne Tram Museum
Unlike other Australian state capitals who ripped up their tram tracks years ago, Melbourne has grown its tram network over time, although we no longer run cable trams anymore. You can compare a map of the lines that were in service in 1916 here compared to today’s network managed by Yarra Trams here. The irony is that “light rail” is now being (very slowly) reintroduced to the Gold Coast and expanded in Sydney. I don’t know of any plans to expand Adelaide’s single line, but at least they kept that as a functional means of transport for commuters – if you happen to live close-by.
The afternoon was getting on; we’d explored the trams, seen the ANZAC exhibition and answered Brompton questions in return, so it was time to say goodbye and head back to the city the same way we’d come. Just before leaving Stephen kindly bought each of us a badge from the gift shop to remember the trip.
Stanley’s badge from Stephen – photo by Stanley Tan
Elsie waiting for the rest of us to catch up!
It’s Siew Mee in the lead, followed closely by Stanley, Stephen’s coming in third, and Greg’s hiding behind the tree
Riding single-file along the Main Yarra Trail
Practice walls for rock climbers underneath CityLink was something I didn’t expect to see on the ride
So nice not to have to contend with traffic on a bike – unlike those people heading out of the city opposite
Cycling along the Yarra River on an overcast winter’s late afternoon
End of another successful ride; time to part ways
It was another enjoyable ride with the group.
Next ride planned for the weekend of 26-27 July. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Strava to keep up to date with rides.
Thanks to Stanley for letting me use a couple of his photos in this post.