Remnants of the Bondi Trams

There are remnants of the trams everywhere, once you learn how to look. These pictures were taken along the two tram routes to Bondi.

Tracks Tarred Over or Replaced by Concrete
Paddington Town Hall Tram Tracks - Oxford Street
Any time you travel along a road that has bitumen in the middle of the road and concrete at the sides, it's probably an old tram route. It's everywhere in Sydney's inner suburbs.

Oxford Street, Paddington outside Victoria Barracks.
Tram Tracks Oxford Street Paddington
Oxford Street, Paddington, near Glenmore Road.
Tram Tracks Curlewis Street Bondi Beach Curlewis Street, at Campbell Parade, looking from Gould Street.

Note the pale cement in the middle of the road.
Curlewis Street - Gould Street - Bondi Beach Trams Curlewis Street, at Gould Street, looking away from the beach.

More pale cement.

Tram Waiting Sheds
Tram waiting shed Bondi Road - Bus shelter Sydney
Large waiting sheds were erected at many tram stops, especially where there might be a crowd of shoppers, or a lot of people going to a sporting event. These waiting sheds are now very rare and are items of major heritage value. They were built for trams not buses. This one is on Bondi Road near Waverley Park.

Notice the little window, so people seated on the bench inside can see if their tram is coming. In modern bus shelters, this view is blocked by an advertisement.
Bus Waiting Shed Bondi Road - Sydney Bus Shelter
These days, tram sheds have been replaced by smaller glass and metal bus shelters, which are far more exposed to the weather.

Much to their credit, Waverley Council have erected several "Heritage Style" bus shelters - a fitting tribute to Bondi's Trams.

Tracks Visible in the Road
Tram Tracks Bondi Junction Mall Sydney - Oxford Street
Fake tram tracks in Bondi Junction Mall try to remind us of the real thing. Only people over 70 can remember riding on the real trams.

Before the mall was built (malls were a fashion in the 70's), Oxford street was the main road that carried all the traffic as the Bondi Junction bypass had not been built.

Until 1958 there was a tram every few minutes, and Bondi Junction got its name as the location where the tram lines going to Randwick and Bronte separated from the Bondi tram line.

Roads Crossing Over Tram Tracks
Bondi Tram route with tracks under Bondi Road
There are not many bridges in Bondi, but this one is famous. It's quite hard to spot and you may have gone past it a million times already.

You can see it from any bus coming up from the beach. It's on your left at 331a Bondi Road.

Here the Bondi Trams ran in a cutting and passed underneath Bondi Road which, just at that point, is too steep for fully laden trams.

Bridges Just for Trams
Cutler Footway tram bridge - Boundary Street - Paddington Sydney
Despite the roadway, this is still known as the Cutler Footway. It links Paddington to Darlinghurst, with viaducts over Boundary Street and Barcom Avenue.

It was originally used only by trams, with a footway for pedestrians on one side.

After the trams were taken off in 1954, the tracks were taken up and a smooth surface for cars added.
Cutler Footway - Tram Bridge Paddington Sydney
The Cutler Footway was built around 1916 for the second tram route to Bondi which ran via Paddington, Edgecliff Road, Bellevue Hill and Birriga Road.

The 389 bus still follows much of the old tram route including this bridge. Here a bus is crossing over Boundary Street.

Rounded Corners
Bondi Road Rounded Corner Trams - Royal Hotel - Denhan Street
Trams tracks cannot turn sharply, and this was always a problem in Sydney's narrow streets, many of which were later widened. Here's an example at the Royal Hotel on Bondi Road.
Bus at Denham Street - Bondi Road - Rounded corner curve for trams
These corners are everywhere once you know what to look for. Never imagine that a rounded corner is just good design by the RTA (now the RMS), or that the local council has built a nice left turn lane just for your car.

This corner is the most classic case on the the Bondi Tram route. A 381 bus can be seen turning left, exactly where the trams turned left over 50 years ago.
Bus turning left on old Paddington Tram Route
This 389 bus can be seen turning left, at the spot where the trams turned left over 50 years ago. It's in Paddington and the bus is turning into Macdonald Street.
Bondi Junction Mall - Sydney tram remnants - rounded corner on Oxford Street
Bondi Junction Mall. At Bondi Junction, the Bronte trams turned right and went past the Tea Gardens Hotel and past the Star picture theatre.

The Bondi trams continued along Oxford Street to Bondi Road, passing two more picture theatres and the Coronation Dance Hall.
Museum Station - Liverpool Street - Elizabeth Street - Sydney tram rounded Corner
Museum station is a much loved and quite pleasant building where the road curves around the corner when you turn from Elizabeth Street into Liverpool Street.

"Curves", did you say? The Bondi Trams had been going round this corner for 30 years when the train station was built.

Trams in Cuttings
South Bondi Tram Cutting
This small park at the south end of Bondi was built by filling in the cutting where the packed trams gradually climbed up the hill to Bondi Junction.

The tram tracks passed under Bondi Road at this point.

Trams in Their Own Reservation
Bondi Beach - Campbell Parade Tram Reservation The northern end of Campbell Parade looking back towards the Swiss Grand Hotel.

Note the pale cement in the middle of the road.
North Bondi - Tram Reservation for Bondi Trams Campbell Parade, just before the North Bondi surf club. The tram reservation has been tarred over and is now a two-hour parking lot.
Paddingtom Tram Reservation - Gurner Street - Cascade Street Gurner Street at Cascade Street, Paddington. This short piece of road was once a pair of tram tracks reserved for trams. Now there is a bus stop for the 389 bus.

Around 1914, several terrace houses were demolished to build the tram tracks round a tight corner and into Hargrave Street. The house in the background is a modern replacement. Originally the trams went straight across and veered right to reach Hargrave Street.

Roads Designed for Trams
Birriga Road Trams Bellevue Hill Line - old Sydney tramways Birriga Road, Bellevue Hill, is a steady climb up from Bondi, with wide sweeping curves. Think trams.
Birriga Road Tram Route - Bellevue Hill - Sydney tram remnants Whilst the road for cars goes up to the right, the trams used to veer left. These days it's mainly a parking lot opposite a school, but it is still used by buses coming up Birriga Road.
Trams - Woollahra Queen Street Edgecliff Road - Bellevue Hill tram route Sydney This is where Queen Street meets Edgecliff Road in Woollahra. Two tram tracks came round the bend and up a gradual hill. It's now a few parking spaces for local residents.

Clusters of Shops
Tram Terminus - Denham Street Bondi - Sydney tram remnants Little shopping centres sprang up wherever a tram route terminated.

Originally the Bondi tram route terminated at Denham Street. It was extended to reach the Bondi Aquarium and Wonderland City (a theme park that overlooked Tamarama), and thence down to the beach, and later on to North Bondi.
Art Deco Shops - Tram Terminus North Bondi - Sydney This was the tram terminus with its shops at North Bondi. Several bus routes use it now, but it was built for the Bondi trams in 1929.

Check out that art-deco block of flats, one of the best of its period in Sydney.
old terminus at North Bondi for Bondi trams - Sydney tram remnants North Bondi bus terminus originally had three tram tracks. Unlike the present bus terminus, the tram terminus was dead level so that unattended trams could never roll down the hill.

Strip Shopping Centres
Paddington Shopping Centre - strip shopping - Oxford Street - Sydney tram remnants With a tram stop every couple of blocks, busy streets gradually because a continuous shopping strip.

The saying "Shoot through like a Bondi Tram" originated here in Paddington because, in the peak hour, there were express trams to Bondi which did not set down in Paddington.
Paddington Strip Shopping - Sydney tram remnants - Oxford Street Looking west near Paddington markets.

In truth, the best examples of shopping centres following tram routes are in Melbourne, where huge emporium style buildings still stand next to working tram routes.

In Sydney, continual redevelopment and road widening have obliterated much of the old strip-shopping streets.
Paddington Shops - Oxford Street - Jersey Road - old Bondi tram route - Sydney However Oxford Street, Paddington and King Street, Newtown and Glebe Point Road all remain as vibrant examples of a strip shopping centre.

All along Oxford Street you can spot cases where terrace houses were turned into shops as the "shopping strip" expanded. This example is near Jersey Road.

Overhead Wiring and Tram Rosettes
Bondi Beach Tram Rosette All the overhead wiring and power cabling is long gone.

However the support wires for the live overhead wiring above the tracks were attached directly to buildings with a large anchor point, and usually with a decorative rosette. These are quire rare along the Bondi tram lines, but occasionally you will spot one. This example is on Campbell Parade at Bondi Beach.
Bondi Junction Tram Rosette Another anchor point with a decorative rosette. This example is on a shop in Bondi Junction.

Sad to report, all the signal boxes, which looked out above the street at major tram junctions (for example at Bondi Junction and Taylor Square), were quickly removed.
Tram rosette - Obelisk or Sewer Vent - Bathurst Elizabeth Sydney
What's this then?

Tram Depots
Waverley Tram Depot - Sydney tram remnants Previously, this was Waverley Tram Depot.

Trams entered and left the depot by a pair of tracks which were close against the York Road fence.

The office building and the Tramways Institute building (meal rooms, staff amenities etc), both near Oxford Street, have been demolished.
Tram Sheds at Waverley Depot - Sydney tramway remnants It's not easy to picture how the bus depot might have operated as a tram depot. However there are plenty of old photographs to help.

The trams were stored in a large building at the back which now houses buses. There were 17 tracks of trams in the shed, there are now 14 lines of buses in the yard.

There was a large substation at Waverley depot to supply power out to working trams, and this building was roughly in the middle of the site.

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Last Updated - 18th August, 2018
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