What better way to start of my blog than in my hometown, Melbourne. The one thing that sets Melbourne apart from its interstate rival Sydney is its much-loved tram network. Up to 1961 Sydney operated a tram system but decided to shut it down, a decision they’re now rethinking with the introduction of ‘light rail networks’ (really, just fancy trams!).
Melbourne stuck with its trams despite being unfashionable, and, as the city spread, not always practical. Started in 1884, it has become the worlds largest urban tram network. It has given Melbourne an iconic city landscape, with the historic W class trams trundling along – they might not be as comfortable as the newer classes, but they have a beautiful look that is instantly identifiable. Driving in Melbourne is also unique due to the trams, a fact that leaves many drivers new to Melbourne roads puzzled – in the city-centre a hook turn system operates whereby drivers wanting to turn right must turn in front of the traffic waiting to their left, this avoids traffic stopping across the road and blocking trams.
Trams are such a part of Melbourne any Royal or VIP visitor will be sure to be seen aboard (even if the general public are kept off). Visitors to Melbourne wanting to take the experience one step further can even dine on board a special dinner tram that winds its way around the city while you eat. Possibly the best bit for a traveller, however, is that there is a completely free city circle tram operating daily – not many other cities offer this!