TOPICS: Reliving light rail

By , 10/02/2019 20:10

MAKING A COMEBACK: Trams first started running in Newcastle in 1887. It is possible we will see trams clattering back to our streets again. SPOILT: Kookaburra at Eleebana.
Nanjing Night Net

COFFINS, dust and waiting rooms – Newcastle’s trams had it all.

And with the possibility of trams clattering back to life, here are some snippets from the city’s first go at light rail.

The hearse tram

In 1896, when the network was nine years old, the government introduced a hearse tram that connected with funeral trains at Honeysuckle.

According to Tramways of Newcastle, by David Keenan, Ken McCarthy and Ross Wilson, the hearse car held three coffins, and was finished with ‘‘highly polished dark wood’’.

Waiting rooms

Busy stops were fitted with waiting rooms, which were wooden shelters fitted out with lights and bench seats.

Community anger over dust particles

Sound familiar? Passengers on the Adamstown and Mayfield lines were, by 1901, having to wipe down their dust-coated seats.

The problem stemmed from crushed sandstone being used as a road surface. Following pressure from locals, the authorities ran sprinkler cars to hose it down.

One for the road

SPOTTED by a reader: a car for sale at City Road, Merewether, with a sweetener.

“Free beer when you buy this car for $3200”.

Friendly natives

IT’s not just possums that pop up in backyards for alfresco dining (Topics, June 18).

Graham and Jenny Parsons, of Eleebana, have a visitor who dines with them twice a day.

‘‘Every morning at about 7am and every afternoon at about 4pm, ‘Kookie’ the female laughing kookaburra arrives at our back doorstep and expects to be fed,’’ says Graham.

‘‘My wife sits on the step with her and passes her diced raw kangaroo and beef pieces, which we buy in the dog food section of the supermarket.’’

Kookie, says Graham, gently takes the pieces from Jenny’s fingers. When she’s guzzled about a dozen she perches in the neighbour’s gum tree awhile, then flies off.

Other kookaburras and magpies drop in for a feed and gobble meat the Parsons toss their way, but they’re shier than Kookie.

Raymond Caves’s yard in Mayfield is home to a family of red wattle birds.

They seem happy to share a bottlebrush tree with neighbouring lorikeets, but not magpies or Indian mynas.

‘‘They’ll even chase crows,’’ says Raymond.

‘‘They’re a bit like F-18s – they can swoop and turn at all sorts of angles.’’

Bruce Kidd, meanwhile, is pleased that locals are making wild friends, but wants everyone to be careful.

‘‘Please do not over-feed them,’’ says Bruce.

‘‘They still need to maintain the ability to forage for themselves.’’

Apparently fruit’s a better meal for possums than bread.

Accounting for taste

RECENTLY at a restaurant, munching through a Mexican-style salad, Topics performed a quick inventory of the meal.

Radish. Avocado. Cabbage, beans and chillies. Wait a minute. Didn’t we used to hate those things?

Into the imaginary trolley of things that were ‘‘gross’’ during childhood, we’d also throw spinach, olives and the entire seafood family except fish sticks, which we can now barely stomach.

Funny how your tastes change.

What did you hate as a kid, dear reader, that you’ve grown to like?

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