Operated by Yarra Trams Southbank Depot.
Melbourne's City Circle tourist tram has no actual start and finish points, so let's start our journey on the historic W class tram, painted burgundy and gold, at Southbank Depot, where the tram is stabled at night.
Our journey from the depot will start at around 9.30 am, so we can take up our position by 10 am. Leaving the depot, our W class tram (It may be a Heritage Fleet tram such as W 380 or W1 431 during events such as the Victorian Government's "Agenda 21" Open Day) joins the Port Melbourne light rail line to Port Junction, where trams from St Kilda join. We swing left into Clarendon St past the restored Tea House, where the Crown Casino is on the right and the Melbourne Exhibition centre is on the left, and cross the Spencer St bridge over the Yarra River and arrive at the corner of Flinders and Spencer Sts to take up our normal running.
Heading along Spencer St, we pass the Grand Hotel on the left. This building used to be the administrative headquarters of the former Victorian Railways, and has been restored and developed to include the hotel and apartments. On the right, the Terrace Pacific Hotel, which used to be the Great Southern Private Hotel, and the Batman's Hill Hotel can be seen as our tram arrives at Collins St, where passengers can alight for the short walk up Collins St to the Rialto Towers with its observation deck on the 55th floor. At Collins St, trams to Brunswick St Fitzroy and Mont Albert turn right, and West Preston trams terminate in Collins St just up from the corner.
Our City Circle tram then goes past Spencer St railway station on the left and the Savoy Plaza Hotel on the right. Spencer St station was rebuilt in 1962 for the opening of the standard gauge railway to Sydney, and is the terminus of V/Line passenger trains from country areas. It is also the terminus of Countrylink XPT services to Sydney, while Great Southern Railways is responsible for the "Overland" to Adelaide and "The Ghan" to Alice Springs. The station buildings have been shortened slightly to allow construction of the Bourke St pedestrian bridge to the Colonial Stadium in the Docklands, which was opened in February, 2000. Bourke St is the terminus of the Bundoora RMIT tram service, and trams to East Brunswick turn right into Bourke St via a triangular junction installed in 1987 as part of the St Kilda and Port Melbourne light rail conversion. City Circle trams also used this junction from 1994 to 1997 to run in and out of South Melbourne Depot.
Lonsdale St is the next street, our W class tram passes the Spencer St coach terminal and the former Melbourne Mail Exchange to get their. A crossover near the Lonsdale St corner is used by other City Circle trams to reverse direction so they can operate the City Circle in the other way to which we are going. Our tram will use this crossover when it has finished for the day to get back to Southbank Depot.
After passing The Age newspaper offices on the right and the Melbourne Mail Exchange on the left, we arrive at the LaTrobe St corner, where trams from east Burwood terminate in a stub terminus on the other side of Latrobe St, trams from North Balwyn turn into LaTrobe St to terminate and our tram follows the North Balwyn tram. We can see the Melbourne Remand Centre (full of bad guys) on the left as we turn and a pause is made for timetable purposes in LaTrobe St opposite the William Angliss College.
City Circle tram 866 at the LaTrobe St stop about to turn left into Spencer St. The new LaTrobe St extension bridge, which will carry the City Circle past the Colonial Stadium can be seen ahead, behind the red and white safety barrier.
Photo - Clive Mottram.
As our tram travels along LaTrobe St past some small businesses, it arrives at the King St corner, where we can see the Flagstaff gardens to the left. At the top of the hill in the gardens we are at the highest point in the City, a lookout used to be kept here for ships in Port Phillip Bay, and a gun fired whenever one was sighted. On the other side of King St we can see a small white building. This building is one of the oldest houses in Melbourne, and has been converted to a period coffee shop. To go in is to be instantly transported back one hundred years, and is well worth a visit.
The next street is William St, where some of our passengers may alight for the Royal Mint, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when tours are held at 11 am. A connection can be made here for the West Coburg tram, which goes past the Royal Melbourne Zoo, or can go down to Flagstaff underground railway station and board the Upfield train to Royal Park station for the zoo.Why not go both ways? Flagstaff station is not open on weekends.
At Queen St, passengers can alight for the Queen Victoria Market, a short walk to the left of the tram, where there are over a thousand stalls selling fresh food and a selection of other products too diverse to name. On the right of the tram, a green building houses the Celtic Club, meeting point for Melbourne's Irish community.
Down the hill towards Elizabeth St we can see the Welsh Church to our left, this is one of the few churches left in Australia that holds its services in Welsh. At Elizabeth St, connections can be made with trams to North Coburg, Airport West and West Maribyrnong, while the western entrance to Melbourne Central shopping complex and railway station is to the right. On Sundays, zoo travellers can board the West Coburg tram here, as is doesn't run along William St on that day.
Swanston St is one of Melbourne's major streets, and Melbourne's major tram street, hosting trams to East Coburg, Moreland, South Melbourne Beach and the St Kilda Rd services to the southeastern suburbs. Cars are only permitted in Swanston St between 7 pm and 7 am, at other times only bicycles, delivery vans, tourist buses, taxis and trams are allowed. A short walk along swanston St takes us to the RMIT University, and down the hill takes us to the Greek Precinct in Lonsdale St, Chinatown in Little Bourke St and the Bourke St Mall, the city's major shopping centre. The Myer Emporium, David Jones and the GPO are the most important denizens of the Mall, while many other shops can be found here as well. At Collins St, we find the Melbourne Town Hall and the City Experience Centre, a multi media and multilingual visitor orientation centre.
We now head to Russell St, passing the State Library on the right and the RMIT on the left. The former Melbourne Magistrates Court can be seen on the corner, and a little further along is the Old Melbourne Gaol, where Ned Kelly wae hanged in 1880. It's open daily from 9.30 to 4.30, and enquire about the night visits.
Our W class tram now passes Exhibition st and Spring St, arriving at Nicholson St where the Carlton gardens and the original Exhibition Buildings, home of federal Parliament from 1901 till it moved to Canberra in 1927. The Exhibition buildings are home to the Museum of Victoria and the IMAX Theatre. Our tram now turns right over a 3/4 Grand Union. Trams from Bundoora and East Brunswick that have been rerouted along LaTrobe St use the left hand curves, they normally use the straight track along Nicholson St. Peak hour services from LaTrobe Sr use the straight we have just turned out of, and another set of curves on the other side of Nicholson St is provided for emergencies. At Albert St, a fine example of an early Victorian "pissoir" can be seen. Various examples of this can be seen around Melbourne, but this is one of the few to have a roof, this means that the girls in the ICI building opposite need something else on which to focus their binoculars! Just along Albert St can be found St Patrick's cathedral, Melbourne's main Roman Catholic cathedral, built in the Gothic Revival style.
Get ready to bow here, we are just about to get to the top end of Bourke St, where our beloved Premier rules from his Parliament House, and the Princess Theatre can be seen on the other side of the street. The entrance to Parliament underground railway station is on the footpath next to the hard Rock Cafe and the Windsor Hotel, one of Australia's few remaining 19th century grand hotels.
Passing the Treasury gardens, our tram arrives at the Collins St corner, where the treasury buildings can be seen on the left just next to the Old Treasury Building, which is open for tours seven days a week from 10 am to 4 pm. Going down the hill, ws pass more of the Treasury Gardens and arrive at Flinders St where passengers can walk along Wellington Parade past the Fitxroy Gardens and Captain Cook's cottage to the Hilton Hotel and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Our W class tram turns right into Flinders St and paralells the Jolimont rail lines to Exhibition St where a new bridge carries the Wattle Park tram line over the railway (trains used to be stabled here and the major electric train workshops could be seen until the Jolimont Rationalisation Project closed the workshops and cut the number of tracks from 53 to 12) towards the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Park and the Multi Purpose Venue. At Russell St, the Forum Cinema is on the right as our tram goes past Federation Square and arrives at Swanston St, with St Paul's Cathedral and Young and Jackson's Hotel on the right and Flinders St station on the left.
A short walk to the left brings us to batman Ave and Princes Bridge, where ferryboats can be boarded for trips up and down the Yarra River. These ferries also pick up at Southbank, an area of shops, cafes and the Crown casino, which can be seen on the right. Just over Princes Bridge is Melbourne's Arts Precinct, with the Arts Centre and National Gallery prominent.
Proceeding along Flinders St, we pass Elizabeth St and the Sir Robert Risson tram terminus, which serves trams to the northern and western suburbs. This was named after Sir Robert Risson, former head of the Melbourne and metropolitan Tramways Board and the saviour of Melbourne's trams. If it wasn't for Sir Robert, Melbourne's trams would have gone the same way as all the other Australian tram systems and we would now be touring Melbourne on the City Circle Bus. A short walk along Elizabeth St takes us to the Met Shop, where tickets and souvenirs can be purchased and the friendly staff wil answer any queries you may have regarding getting around Melbourne by public transport.
The next street is Queen St, where the Banana Alley vaults can be seen on the left. On the other side of Flinders St is the Immigration Museum, housed in the Old Customs House and back on our side of Flinders St is the Yarra Turning Basin, wherer John Batman once said
"This is the place for a village" before he got off the boat. Next to the Turning Basin is the Melbourne Aquarium, opened in December 1999. All these places are guarded by the railway viaducts which carry trains between Flinders and Spencer Sts stations, and a view of the Crown Casino can be seen as our tram crosses the King St flyover and descends to Spencer St next to Batman Park, which features the famous and usually graffiti ridden "Yellow Peril" by J. Robertson-Swann, which used to live in the City Square but was banished here. And so our journey ends.
You can stay on the tram if you like, for as many circuits as you like, or maybe get off and board a tram going the other way. It won't cost you anything - it's all free!
The City Circle tram runs seven days a week except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Eight Heritage W class trams provide a ten minute service in each direction from 10 am to 6 pm, and to 9 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday when daylight saving is on, usually November to March.
There are eleven trams especially set aside for the City Circle. All are W class trams built between 1936 and 1956. They have been converted to one person operation, but lack automated ticketing equipment as they are not used on regular route services. Eight are normally in use with three in reserve, and they are ---
Please note that the City Circle will operate at a 20 minute frequency until the W class tram problems are resolved.
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This page was last updated on 21st February 2001.