The Bendigo Tramways
Bendigo Tramways is a living piece of history that has been entwined with the city’s identity since 1890. As soon as you step aboard a Vintage Talking Tram you become immersed in the artistry of the vehicle. The carefully crafted seats, stain glassed features and intricate details are all indicative of the skilled craftsmen who meticulously built and restored each tram by hand. In 1972, the future of the tramways was at risk due to declining revenue and there were moves to sell off the trams to other tramways around the country. However, a small group of rebels rallied the community to stop the trams being sold off and even barricaded the depot to prevent the trams being moved. Thanks to their efforts the tramways was saved and is still running as a successful tourist attraction today!
Who are the people behind your business
Whether it be our board members, employees or our dedicated team of volunteers, all of our people share a passion for the tramways and its continued success. Some of our older staff fondly remember riding the trams to school in their youth, while our younger team members have joined the organisation because they believe in the importance of preserving heritage and making it accessible to all.
Tell us something quirky or memorable about you, your customers or your business
Our tram drivers are real characters and come from all walks of life including: ex-magistrates, pilots, ex-CEOs and more. You never know who you’re going to meet here, but you can be sure that they are up for a chat and have some great stories to tell. Our tram driver instructor has been involved with the tramways for over 45 years and was one of the rebels who barricaded the tram depot to stop the trams being sold off back in the 70s … we call him “The Oracle”. We are also really creative with the way that we use our heritage trams … in Winter, we have a tram that is completely yarn bombed inside and out; at Christmas we run Santa Tram which has become a family tradition in Bendigo; and on Friday evenings we have a Drinks Tram to help everyone unwind … any excuse for some fun!
What is a thing you love about your business?
The thing I love the most about the Bendigo Tramways is the enthusiasm and passion of our people and the way that they share their enthusiasm with our visitors. Those who join our team may not be tram enthusiasts to start with, but it doesn’t take long for them to decide which of the heritage trams is their favourite. I also love the way we reimagine the trams and collaborate with other businesses to create events like the Blues Tram, the Foodie Tram, the Comedy Tram and more. Trams are wonderfully intimate spaces where you can spend a happy occasion celebrating with your friends while at the same time enjoying Bendigo’s striking city centre views.
What is the company background?
Bendigo Tramways has been around since 1890, but only started running as a trial tourist service in December 1972 when it was taken over by The Bendigo Trust, now trading as Bendigo Heritage Attractions, which also manages the Central Deborah Gold Mine and Bendigo Joss House Temple. In the beginning, it was run by a band of tram enthusiasts who were determined to ensure that Bendigo’s trams remained as part of Bendigo’s streetscape. Today the tourist service is award winning and the Bendigo Tramways Depot and Workshop is renowned as a specialist heritage tram restoration facility. In addition to our restoring our own fleet, we have most recently restored and completely rebuilt Melbourne’s iconic City Circle Trams for Yarra Trams.
What is your ultimate vision for your business?
In 20 years time, we hope to look back and celebrate the days when Bendigo’s heritage trams became entrenched as a vital part of our city’s modern lifestyle, through offering experiences that brought people together and taught them to embrace their heritage.