A complimentary ride on Melbourne’s City Circle will introduce my husband and me to a city famous for its network of trams. Wide streets, tree-lined boulevards, gardens and history await us as we travel along Flinders Street in a colorful burgundy tram with gold and cream trim
The city’s first horse trams began on a suburban line in 1884; cable trams were initiated one year later. In 1889, electric trams took over and the City Circle Line has served tourists and city residents since 1936.
We spot the City Circle logo and board at Treasury Gardens; the oldest in Melbourne. Directly to the rear is Fitzroy Gardens and Captain James Cook’s Cottage commemorating the English navigator, his life and his voyages in the southern hemisphere.
The next stop is the Gold Treasury Museum; we’re interested in its permanent collection Built on Gold. Eight of the vaults that stored the gold bullion now show how Victoria’s precious metal fashioned Melbourne’s destiny – the diggings, bush rangers who attacked the diggers on their journey to Melbourne to sell nuggets or dust, buyers working the fields who offered diggers a lower price than banks and bullion merchants and escort troops who charged one shilling per ounce of gold.
By switching to Tram No.16 at Swanton Street and St. Kilda Road, visitors may travel to the Shrine of Remembrance – a memorial completed in 1934 – dedicated to men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve freedom. A climb to the top of the complex is rewarded with magnificent views of Melbourne’s skyline. Tram No.16 also carries beach lovers to St. Kilda where Melbourne’s citizens walk and cycle along the palm lined shore, sit at outdoor cafés, and gaze at Port Phillip Bay’s panoramic scenes.
Back on the City Circle Tram the following day, we arrive at Melbourne’s Aquarium where Giant Sharks and Sting Rays reside in a 2.2 million litre oceanarium then onward to La Trobe Street where Flagstaff Gardens is located on the highest sector of land in the city. A shiver of fear attacks when we stop at the Old Melbourne Gaol, the site of 135 hangings between 1842 and 1929 including that of infamous bush ranger Ned Kelly.
The tram turns on Spring Street where the Princess Theatre home welcomes generations of theatre goers, luminaries and ghosts. Notably, the ghost of the baritone “Frederici,” who died of a heart attack while performing Mephistopheles in Gounod’s opera Faust; another shiver when I learn he returned to take his bow.
We wait for Tram No. 55 on Elizabeth Street; the tram will deposit us at the Queen Victoria Market. More than 1000 stalls offer meat, fish, bakery products, fruit, vegetables and an abundance of general merchandise and knick-knacks. Cafes are close to the Queen Victoria and Sundays a wine market is in residence.
This is the second century of electric trams in Melbourne; providing a delightful and inexpensive overview of Melbourne and the inner suburbs.
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