Some of Melbourne's best day trips are found at the end of the line...
All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes, and even Melbourne’s
much-loved trams run out of track eventually. But that needn’t be the end of the
journey. Near the scattered tram termini, there are interesting attractions
worth hanging on to the end of the line for – sometimes humble, sometimes
intriguing and sometimes picturesque.
Tram 96 (north): Eco hot spot
A short walk east from the terminus takes you to CERES, the Centre for Education
and Research in Environmental Strategies. Founded in 1982, this community
environment project was ahead of its time – its mission to promote awareness of
urban environmental issues is decidedly mainstream. The former wasteland is
dotted with practical demonstrations such s renewable energy, a bush food
nursery, composting and a worm farm to recycle organic waste. There are also
villages representing African, Indian and Indonesian cultures along with
gardens, farm animals and a café.
9am – 5pm daily, cnr Roberts and Stewart streets, Brunswick East. Entry free.
Details: 9387 2609 www.ceres.org.au
Tram 96 (south): Organic zone
Near the other end of route 96 is another agricultural gem, the Veg Out St Kilda
Farmers’ Market, held on the first Saturday of every month. This produce market
brings the country to the inner city, as all stalls are staffed by the people
who grow the fruit and veggies. In addition to fresh and organic produce you’ll
find free-range eggs, meats, breads, berries, juices, cheeses, sauces, jams,
honey and wine. It’s a plastic bag-free zone, so bring your own carriers.
Outside market dates, take a peek at the adjacent Veg Out Community Gardens, an
urban oasis dotted with flowers, fruit trees, vegetable patches and sculptures.
Farmers’ Market 8.30am – 1pm Saturday of month - 2, Peanut Farm Reserve, Chaucer
Street, St Kilda.
The Community Gardens are at the corner of Shakespeare Grove and Chaucer Street,
St Kilda. Details: 0407 411 198
Tram 72: Diminutive drive-by
The pint-sized Kew Traffic School opened in 1954 to teach kids road safety as
the car came within the reach of the average family. It’s a safe environment of
miniature streets with signs and traffic signals. There’s something delightfully
retro about it nowadays, with its dinky weatherboard pretend shops dotted among
the grounds, between the roads and intersections navigated by youngsters on
their bikes. Oh, for an old-fashioned pedal car.
From Monday to Friday between January 14 and 24, sessions will be held for
children: from 9.30am – 11.30am for 2 – 5’s and from noon – 2pm for 6 – 10’s. It
can also be booked for children’s parties.
Corner of Cotham and Grange roads, Kew. Sessions $8.60 per child. Bookings: 9817
Tram 19: Pentridge picnic
In the good old days, a tram trip to Coburg Lake Reserve would have meant
passing the grim gates of HM Prison Pentridge, a jail since the 1850’s. The grey
walls cast an understandable gloom over nearby residents; so much so that they
rejoiced when the suburb was renamed from Pentridge to Coburg (after the royal
house of a visiting duke) in 1870. The prison closed in 1997, so the pleasant
nearby reserve, just east of the tram line, can be enjoyed without the threat of
the ‘convict stain”. The attractive stretch of parkland along Merri Creek
contains barbecues, art and walking trails and glimpses of the former prison.
Lake Grove, Coburg. Details: 9240 1111
Trams 3, 5, 6, 16, 64, 67, 72: Antiquities
Many trams end their journeys at the Melbourne University terminus, so it’s good
that there’s a suitably grand attraction nearby – the Ian Potter Museum of Art
in Parkville. This august institution houses an art collection ranging from
ancient to contemporary, from across the world. Fans of antiquity will be
particularly interested in the museum’s classics and archaeology collection
which features Cypriot relics during summer. There’s also a changing programme
of art exhibitions to keep things fresh; until February 3, Facing Percy Grainger
highlights the life and work of the Australian composer.
10am – 5pm Tuesday to Friday, noon – 5pm Saturday and Sunday, Swanston Street,
Melbourne University, Parkville. Entry free. Details: 8344 5148
Tram 70: Terminal parkland
Now here’s a thing: a park specifically created to accompany a tram terminus.
Having built their spanking new tram route as far as the remote wilds of
Burwood, the Hawthorn Tramways Trust opened Wattle Park in 1917 with the intent
of drawing passengers onto their shiny trams for weekend excursions. It was
developed extensively in the 1920’s and 1930’s with volunteers planting 12,000
wattle trees. Parks Victoria looks after it now, although the Melbourne Tramways
Band still plays once a month during spring and autumn. It’s home to loads of
sports, including golf, with plenty of greenery to walk through and native birds
1012 Riversdale Road, Burwood. Details: 131963,
Tram 82: Multicultural market
OK so you think you’re a markets connoisseur, doing the rounds of the Queen Vic
and dropping by the Prahran and South Melbourne versions. For a bit of variety
however try the Footscray Market. This centrally located shopping precinct
highlights the huge ethnic diversity of the suburb, as you can find fascinating
foodstuffs from Africa, Asia and Europe on its stalls. There’s plenty of fresh
meat on sale, including an array of seafood, poultry and every variation of
pork. You can also buy jewellery and clothes. Footscray railway station is just
across the road.
7am – 4pm Tuesday and Wednesday; 7am – 6pm Thursday, 7am – 8pm Friday; 7am – 4pm
Saturday, corner Hopkins and Leeds Streets, Footscray. Details: 9687 1205
Tram 57: Vanished tearooms
Pleasant public parks seem to be a recurrent feature of tram termini, but it’s
still surprising to find one so near this terminus, given that it’s next to the
former Defence Department explosives factory. However if you walk along Cordite
Avenue and cross the Maribyrnong River, a path to the right leads to the Tea
Gardens Reserve. This riverside spot was once home to the Riverview Tea Gardens.
Established by Daniel Hicks in 1909, the site offered a variety of diversions,
including sports grounds, tennis court, aviaries and kiosks. The energetic
businessman also operated boat cruises to the gardens, where visitors could
partake of scones and hot beverages. Times changed, the team gardens closed
after the war and the remaining buildings burnt down. However the remaining
terraces and some of their original trees remain for picnickers as of course do
the river view.
Tea Gardens Drive, Avondale Heights Details: 9243 8888
Tram 67: Immersion therapy
If it’s a blazing hot summer day you could do sores than hop on the no 67 to
Carnegie. A short stroll away is the Caulfield Swim Centre, formerly known as
the Caulfield Memorial Swimming Pool. As it’s a classic, suburban 50 metre
outdoor pool, rather than the mammoth covered venues built nowadays, this pool
will take you back to those nostalgic days before people knew anything about
skin protection or the ozone layer. Factors in the dive pool, learners’ pool and
toddlers’ area, along with barbeques and the Y Splash school holiday programme,
and there’s plenty to keep the family happy on a summer day. Even better – on
days where forecasts are greater than 30 degrees, the pool stays open until 8pm.
6am – 7pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday, Moira Avenue,
Carnegie. Entry $4 adult, $2.60 concession, $2 child. Details: 9571 8143.
Tram 109: Urban bushwalk
The Port Melbourne tram has one of the most dynamic end-points, dropping you off
at Station Pier, home of the ferry to Tasmania, good restaurants and bay views.
However, head west along the footpath from the pier, and you’re following a
walking/cycling trail that winds through the lesser-visited parts of Port
Melbourne and deposits you at Westgate Park. As the name suggests, this
sprawling area of greenery sits beneath the West Gate Bridge – you’ve probably
seen it dozens of times while inching across in peak hour. It’s a refreshingly
unfussy patch of native bush land close to the city centre and at the park’s far
side there’s a punt waiting to take you across the Yarra to the landing below
Scienceworks. From here it’s an easy walk to Spotswood station, to head home via
different kind of rail.
Tram 1: Sandy getaway
There’s something a bit Harry Potterish about this tram terminus, sitting just a
few metres from palm trees, the beach and Port Phillip Bay. As with the
fictional Platform 9 ľ, it’s temping to suspect that the right incantation will
see the tramline magically extend into another dimension, unseen by Muggle eyes.
The location is enchanting enough anyway and a good spot for a swim. The Plum
Garland Memorial Playground is also here, ready to keep kids occupied. Next to
the terminus on Victoria Avenue is the Beach Hotel if you need a drink, and the
Stavros Tavern if you fancy some Greek food. Walking and cycling paths stretch
in either direction, so you can have a stroll and rejoin the tram system at Port
Melbourne at St Kilda.
South Melbourne Beach, corner Victoria Avenue and Beaconsfield Parade, Albert
Park. Details: 9209 6777