A Sydney tram outside of QVB bound for Kingsford Juniors.

Tramming it in Sydney

Coming from Melbourne, trams run in my blood. But, aside from the Sydney Tramway Museum, no trams ran in Sydney between 1961 to 1997, when the Sydney Light Rail opened between Central to Wentworth Park.

Today there are three light rail lines in Sydney, with another to open later this year in Parramatta and Alex and I decided to ride on a couple of them.

We caught the T8 Line in from Padstow to Town Hall and had an excellent early lunch of nasi lemak and laksa from the Sayong Curry and Laksa in the lower ground food court beneath Pittway Arcade. It’s possibly the best Malaysian eatery in Sydney. Unfortunately, the nearby Momiji Japanese stand was closed for Christmas – New Year. It’s been ages since I had a meal from there.

A plate of nasi lemak with chicken rendang, cucmber, sambal egg and prawn crackers.

After stopping by Books Kinokuniya, we emerged out on the George Street to catch the L3 line to Kingsford Juniors.

The L3 line runs from Circular Quay to Kingsford Juniors in the Eastern Suburbs, using connected sets of two Citadis 305 tram sets for each run. The combined sets make these the longest trams in the world. Both Alex and I had already ridden it between the Quay and Central before as it’s quite convenient for short city journeys, especially when track work saw the City Circle line out of action.

Interior of a Sydney tram with two seats facing back

We pass the George Street cinema and entertainment district, now a Japanese foodie enclave, and skirt the edges of Chinatown, before crossing under the railway line and making a stop at Central Station, opposite the Sydney Dental Hospital.

Central Railway Station corner

The line then swings east, up the hill through colourful old Surry Hills and crossing over the Eastern Distributor and into a tunnel beneath Moore Park, emerging to the east of Anzac Parade. Here the line splits, with L2 trams heading to Randwick and L3 trams to Kingsford. We continue on the Anzac Parade on the L3.

Colourful building with abstract figures painted on it in Surry Hills.

Kingsford is an area well known to us, with B once living there and with our frequent visits to the Asian eateries that line the streets. Sadly, most of these were still closed for the festive period, so upon reaching the terminus at Kingsford Juniors, named for the footy club across the road, we simply caught the next tram back.

Kingsford Junior L3 light rail terminus station with tram, man with backpack and garden bench.

Tossing up what to do next, we decided to change at Central Station to the L1 line to Dulwich Hill. Leaving from the original elevated tram platform at Central, the line winds its way through Haymarket until it joins the old Metropolitan Goods Line opposite the Powerhouse Museum. Continuing through the cutting, we pass the Convention and Exhibition Centres.

Tram arriving at Central Station, under a canopy.

There is a gap in the view where the original Darling Harbour Harbourside building used to be. I had many good times there, eating at the food court between train rides from Canberra and up to Brisbane in my uni days. The monorail that I would catch back to Town Hall has also been removed.

Beyond the ugly stops beneath the buildings of Pyrmont Bay and The Star Casino, the line continues on through a cutting past John Street Square and the Fish Markets, where most people get off. It is then more like a proper railway line. Near Glebe there are views of the city skyline and the harbour. We enter a tunnel and emerge at Jubilee Park, the line running across its famous stone viaduct and another at Rozelle Bay.

Looking through the front of the tram as it crosses over the Jubilee Park viaduct.

Lilyfield has stabling yards and was both the terminus of the tram line and the furthest I had travelled on it previously. The extension now continues on past Leichhardt North, Hawthorne, Marion and Taverner’s Hill to Lewisham West and the old Mungo Scott flour mill. Just prior to that, it passes beneath the major East-West railway tracks, where I used to cross en route to Epping, prior to the light rail conversion. I always noticed the flour mill and adjacent tracks and thought it a pity it was not for passengers.

Former grain silos converted into apartments

In my confusion today, this is where I also thought the L1 line ran to and terminate, confusing Lewisham with Dulwich Hill. After all, there are other “Hills” on the line. But we continue on through Waratah Mills, Arlington, Dulwich Grove until the actual terminus of Dulwich Hill, the dual tracks combining into one.

Looking on a map, I saw that the line once formed a Y-junction to connect to the Bankstown heavy rail line. It would have been faster to return home by the Bankstown Line from Dulwich Hill but that track is out of duty for a month while works towards its conversion to a metro line proceed. So we scan off and on and return to the tram for a ride back to the city.

Dulwich Hill light rail station

Interestingly, if we were able to go directly east from Dulwich Hill we would reach Kingsford again!

It’s a pleasant ride back until we reach the Fish Markets, where the tram becomes crowded. At Central we leave the tram and Alex sees the long distance Endeavour trains destined directly for Bathurst and Bomaderry.

Cricket ground near Rozelle Bay

Another time, kid. I’m tired and I should be working. So we return to the T8 line and ride the train back home.

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