My first memory of anti social music listening was in 1988 when my parents gave me a dodgy little walkman casette player and I listened to Kylie’s first album in the back seat of the car on the drive up to Maleny. I thought it was the best thing ever because I could listen to MY music instead of theirs.

Since then I’ve gone through a variety of portable music players such as sony walkmans, compro mp3 cd player and iriver slimx and the current ipod. When sitting on the train today I noticed that 99% of the people there had headphones plugged in to their ears. It occurred to me that there must have been a time long ago, before portable music devices didn’t exist, say in the 1970s. I wondered what it was like to be on a train or tram in those days and you didn’t know what it was like to have a guy blasting his Sepultura in to his ears so loud you could hear it at the other end of the carriage.

Did people on trams talk to each other in the 60s? Or did they do their daily commute ignoring each other like we do now. I know that I get a little twinge of annoyment when someone I know gets on the train with me because it takes away my listening time. It doesn’t matter if they are my favourite person on earth, I still get a little bit peeved.

While I’m on the subject of trams and annoyment I’ve decided today that ex Lord Mayor of Brisbane Clem Jones sucks. Primarily because I’ve discovered that he is the reason why Brisbane doesn’t have trams anymore and instead we have a horrible freeway/road system that will not sustain the growth of this city. Apparently he disdained trams and was convinced car travel was the way of the future. So when a tram terminus burnt down in Paddington ruining 65 trams in 1962 he jumped on that misfortune and began to phase it out so that by 1969 Brisbane was tram free. (Just a note, I read this on only one website so I’m not a 100% it’s true, but I’m happy to blame somebody)

Trams seem to add a romance to a city. I’ve been to Melbourne, San Francisco and Amsterdam and loved the way the trams offered a new dimension to public transport. The tram bells of San Francisco add a sound that immediately yell “I am in San Francisco!”. They even have some of our discarded trams! The Melbourne Tramcar Restaurant that takes you to St Kilda and back, feeds you and lets you get raucously drunk is an incredibly fun and romantic experience. It’s even appeared on Kath and Kim!

Trying to navigate your way past cyclists, cars, buses and trams in Amsterdam makes it seem like a vibrant city full of danger and excitement. I’ve recently discovered that Nottingham has also got nice new modern trams. When I lived there for a year they had banned cars from the inner square so it’s nice to know that they have implemented some other great transport ideas such as trams. I wish they had it when I was there.

Brisbane TramsImagine how nice it would be to come from Carindale over the hill at Coorpooroo on a clear night on a tram and see the lights of the city in all their glory. Or take a tram from West End where you just had dinner in to the Valley to listen to a band. Or a quick trip at lunch time from King George Square to the Botanic Gardens. Sure you can do it on a bus, but the problem with buses is that people don’t always know where they are going. With a tram or a train you can see the tracks and know that someday a tram will come by. Plus trams don’t spit out black smoke.

It was a sad day for me when I found out they had nixed the idea of a light rail system from West End to New Farm, I was rejoicing when I heard the proposal but it’s now just a blip in history. Instead we have a busway in front of the art gallery that hurts my eyes. At least I can go and see how it used to be in the glory days by going to the Brisbane Tramway Museum.



1 thought on “Begins with music but ends with trams

  1. dbee says:

    New Orleans has trams aswell!..which is just an extra added element to an already fantabulous city!! The clinkety clank of the trams really fits in well with the hot and humid climate of a southern city, with it’s jazz and blues sounds, voodoo shops and plantation houses :0)


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