Friday, 25 November 2011

Monday Morning Photo. 21/11/2011.

Have finally sorted out my problems with this posting and attached the right photo.
G'day all, wintry, gloomy Ballaarat again, 1970 or '71, this time we're looking east, down the Sturt Street hill and along Bridge Street. Ballaarat isn't always like this but its winter days are apt to be cold and overcast, that is if it is not actually raining.
The City Loop is accomodating four cars, three single truckers tucked in behind maximum traction bogie car No. 37.  Another single trucker has made the stop amongst the shoppers and strollers in busy, bustling Bridge Street and just behind the tram is the junction of the Victoria Street and Mount Pleasant lines. The former continues up the hill in the background and the latter swings away to the right into Main Street. The weather may be miserable and the light hazy and flat but the scene is definitely lifted by the presence of these five old green and cream tramcars.
By the time this photo was taken street public transport in Australia ran mostly on rubber tyres. Brisbane's Lord Mayor Clem Jones having recently realised his long held ambition to banish trams forever from his domain and having replaced them with a fleet of Leyland Panther buses. The Ballaarat and Bendigo tramways also were not long for this world. That left only the large Melbourne network and Adelaide's line to the Bay at Glenelg. Both survive to this day and both have been extended in recent years.
My thanks  for with this and last weeks postings must go to my editorial assistant and encourager Jennifer Crow, two heads are better than one.
Peter Bruce.
P.S. Thanks to John Gilmour for the correction. Leyland Panthers not Leopards, I got my beasts and buses of prey mixed up. And thanks to Leonie for correcting my spelling mistakes.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Monday Morning Photo. 14/11/2011.

G'day all, it's five to two by the Ballaarat Town Hall clock and my sometimes unreliable memory tells me that it is a cold and miserable Friday arvo during the winter of 1971. The final and much postponed closure of the Ballaarat tramways is only months away. More about that later.
Putting  memory aside the scene certainly has the busy air of an old-time Victorian Friday afternoon when everything closed at five..... or five thirty at the latest and the shops closed at midday on Saturday. The weeks business had to be tidied up and the shopping done. Hence the bustle.
My camera was a Pentax Spotmatic and the lens a Takumar 200mm and I was standing part way along Bridge Street looking west along Sturt Street, the city's main drag. I don't know the make of that approaching sedan but the cars in view are typical of the time. They are the cars that killed the tram. The line was single track in Bridge Street but at that waiting shed at the bottom of the Sturt Street hill it divided to run either side of a broad central plantation.
The two single truck trams in Sturt Street are stabled in the City Loop awaiting the PM peak and further up the hill a bogie car has turned out of Lydiard Street North and passengers are boarding for the trip out to Sebastopol.
The Ballaarat system and it's sister tramway in Bendigo outlasted the huge Sydney operation by a decade and the very efficient Brisbane system by a couple of years thanks to the pecularities and the odd alliances of Victorian parliamentary politics.
Several attempts had been made to close these working museums in the post war years but our State was governed for 20 or so years by a coalition of the conservative Liberal Party with the perhaps even more conservative Country Party and up until the '70s they could reach no ageement re closure and so the little tramcars continued to ply their provincial streets carrying fewer and fewer people and losing more and more money every year. At night during winter when the cold and the TV kept people indoors they were empty more often than not.
Trams still run in both Ballaarat and Bendigo thanks to the energetic efforts of the preservation movement and Bendigo has a very active workshop that undertakes work for all comers. A Google search for the Bendigo Tramways and the Ballarat Tramway Museum is worthwhile. All my previous Monday Morning Photo postings can be found at
I'll post a photo next week taken looking down the Sturt Street hill and along Bridge Street to the east.
Best regards,
Peter Bruce.
P.S. A couple of books that might be of interest.
The Golden City and its Tramways.
 Alan Bradley.
Published by the Ballarat Tramway Museum Inc. 2005.
Last Tram at 11.
William. F. Scott.
Published by Full Parallel Productions. 2008.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Monday Morning Photo. 31/10/2011.

I count myself very lucky to have been born in the mid 1940s and into the relative prosperity of Australia in the immediate post war period. Our parents were able to provide us with a pretty secure and comfortable upbringing and a good education by dint of hard work and with just a bit of help from the government of the day. At the time I didn't really appreciate my good fortune but I did put it to good use from about 1962 on along with my new found independence. Along with others of my age I witnessed the end of the steam age in Australia. Talk about lucky!!

Enough reflecting on my good fortune. The photo attached is as good an illustration of that as I can find.

Tuesday 24th of January 1964, Junee, New South Wales just after 11am and the "Riverina Express" will depart for Sydney at 11.21 led by 3823.

On a Tuesday the train originated at Griffith and I had travelled up from Albury behind 3801 with just a couple of cars behind the tender to connect with the train pictured here, having camped in the Waiting Room at Albury overnight.

3823 had come up from the Junee roundhouse with a shed crew and the Goulburn men are leaning on the platform railing waiting for departure time.

I took this photo and headed back to the cars, I wanted to ask for a cab ride but I chickened out and pretty soon we belted out of Junee in that inimitable and unique NSWGR way with me back in the cars reproaching my fainthearted self. Needless to say before we drew to a stand at Cootamundra I was at the steps of the cab asking for a ride up front.

"Yeah righto son, up you get, you OK with the shovel?"

So I got to fire a 38 up Morrison's Hill and I've gotta say I thought I managed pretty well, the 38s rode well and the firedoor was air operated by a treadle and of course the driver and fireman kept a close eye on me.

I went back to the cars at Yass Junction, the crew didn't want to risk taking me into Goulburn, too many bosses there.

An unforgettable experience, the planets lined up for me that day. And since that day just before my 20th birthday I've always counted my lucky stars.