Ding ding on Melbourne’s route 69 tram

“69” – it being out giggles in those of us who have their mind in the gutter, and Melbourne’s route 69 tram used to be fodder for many jokes until it was abolished in 2004.

D1.3529 passes under the Monash Freeway, headed north on Glenferrie Road with a route 69 service

Some history

Route 69 once ran from St Kilda Beach to Cotham Road in Kew, via Balaclava Road, Hawthorn Road, and Glenferrie Road, on tracks constructed by the Prahran and Malvern Tramway Trust (PMTT) in four stages:

  • Wattletree Road (Stop 54) to High Street (Stop 57) was part of the original system opened on 30 May 1910,
  • Hawthorn Road (Stop 48) to Wattletree Road opened on 16 December 1911 as part of the line to Windsor Station,
  • Hawthorn Road to Luna Park opened on 12 April 1913,
  • High Street to the Cotham Road terminus opened on 30 May 1913.

The first trams operated by the PMTT only displayed destinations, not route numbers.

Throwing the points in the depot fan

With the route 69 designation not being applied until 24 June 1934.

Photo by Weston Langford

The demise of route 69 came on Sunday 17 October 2004, when routes 16 and 69 were merged at the St Kilda end, and renamed “Melbourne University to Kew via St Kilda”.

But 69 lives on

Melbourne used to have a tram numbered 69 – Z1.69. Completed in 1977 it remained in service until 2015.

Z1.69 northbound at Swanston and Bourke Streets

Wags also love to display ’69’ on the route number board of W class trams – including the operators of ‘Tram Bar’ at the Arts Centre.

SW6.969 converted in a bar, located outside the Arts Centre

And whoever was responsible for dumping these unwanted W class trams outside the Newport Workshops.

SW6.905, SW5.845 and W7.1005 stored on the ground outside at Newport Workshops


The 2004 media release for the demise of route 69 was titled “New improved routes for Melbourne’s tram network” – I’m having trouble keeping my mind out of the gutter.

Around the world

The November 2004 edition of ‘Trolley Wire’ looked at route 69 trams around Australia and the world – tram systems in Brisbane, Vienna, London, Paris, New York and Philadelphia all once used the number – but Melbourne was the last.

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8 Responses to “Ding ding on Melbourne’s route 69 tram”

  1. Rohan says:

    That was my school tram route in the 70s, along glenferrie rd, I used to daydream about staying on it to the mysterious ‘balaclava’ and the then sordid delights of St Kilda. Also, there was a book written about the social history of the middle-east suburbs, about private schools non-conformist churches and the professional classes, which was called ‘Journeyings, a biography of a middle class generation’ by janet mccalman

  2. Andrew says:

    When route 69 stopped and the extended route 16 took over, I stopped using the line as it became too unreliable.

  3. Tony Smith says:

    In the early naughties, while squeezed into a tight Balaclava share house, in what was a portent of things to come, I once rode a 16 which turned into a 69 en route, with humorous potential it isn’t even safe to dream about.

  4. Drew says:

    The joining of 16 & 69 meant the removal of a lot of dead running to get drivers to/from Luna Park to Malvern depot, for start/end of services and meal breaks. These mainly went via Fitzroy St/Dandenong Rd About 2/3rd of the drivers carried passengers, though I think they weren’t required to.

  5. […] loves to chuckle when the route 69 tram is mentioned, but there is another Melbourne public transport route with a number worth a smirk […]

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