In May 2018, the Victorian State Government announced they that would be giving Victorians the opportunity to acquire one of 134 Retired W Class Trams. Schools, community groups, not for profit organisations and other public institutions were invited to submit an Expression of Interest in order to acquire one.
The Rotary Club of Diamond Creek was approached by the Diamond Creek CFA and the Diamond Creek Men’s Shed to put in a joint submission to acquire one for Diamond Creek. A small group of members from each organisation worked closely with the Nillumbik Shire Council to do this.
It was agreed that the tram would be sited in a significant place in Diamond Creek and after restoration and refurbishment, would be turned into a ‘pop up’ coffee shop which would be run on weekends by local community groups. These groups would be rostered in turn to run it, and would recoup the profits from it.
In September 2018, the successful applicants were announced and we were proud to be deemed as the best successful application from the 1500 which were submitted. A story appeared on the Channel 9 News with members of our group being featured.
In the meantime, the Nillumbik Shire Council had received $2.5 million to construct a new state of the art playground in Diamond Creek. As well as traditional playground equipment, the playground includes educational apps that support augmented reality discovery learning experiences. It was deemed that this playground would be the ideal site for the tram.
Whilst still supportive of the project, the Diamond Creek CFA and the Diamond Creek Men’s Shed have stepped back from the project and it is now being solely run by the Rotary Club of Diamond Creek.
The quest for the tram has been ably led by Joshua Allen, a member of the CFA, and now a member of the Rotary Club of Diamond Creek. Without Josh’s hard work, none of this could have happened! He has lived and breathed ‘the tram’ ever since it arrived and we are all proud of his efforts!
On 13 June 2019, the project really came to life with tram 812 being delivered to Diamond Creek after being in storage at the Newport depot for approximately twenty years.
And what a journey it has been since, renovating the tram into a coffee shop configuration whilst trying to keep as many original components as possible.
Fast forward a year and we find the tram nestled up on a small hill between trees, on the only parcel of council land, above the flood zone in Diamond Creek. The construction phase of the project has been completed and the Tram Café opened on 31 October 2020.
The fully refurbished tram café with a large deck and pergola and the state of the art playgrounds will become huge attractions – not just to local residents but we also envisage to the wider community.
Most of our members have now completed their Food Handling Certificates and are volunteering at the Tram Café. Araluen, a disability support service in Diamond Creek, run the café three days a week. Local community groups are invited to participate in running the café on weekends for an opportunity to share in the profits. If your community group would be interested in participating, please Email Diamond Creek Rotary Club.
This project is up there with the biggest that the club has ever undertaken. It has seen community support and business donations of an absolutely incredible nature. The generosity and support for this project has led to a facility that will serve the community for years to come.
A crazy idea, that many doubted would eventuate, has been made a reality by good people and hard work.
Secretary – Rotary Club of Diamond Creek