christmas symbol Santa Trams in Ballarat christmas symbol
By Alan Bradley

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Between 1964 and 1970 the Myer’s store in Ballarat sponsored the “Santa trams” in Ballarat.  Children could ride a specially decorated tram and meet Santa.  One of my first tram trips in Ballarat was on a “Santa tram”. 

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Ballarat 18, the first Santa Tram in 1964, at the corner of Wendouree Parade and Macarthur St.

Photo: Tramway Museum Soc. of Victoria from the collection of the Ballarat Tramway Museum.

Late in 1964 No. 18 was repainted gold for the Sebastopol centenary.  After the centenary celebrations it was then repainted white to become the first “Santa tram”. It was publicised by this ad in the “Ballarat Courier”: “See Santa arrive by his special tram at Myer’s tomorrow!  Be in the fun!  Meet Santa at 9.10 am.  He will be accompanied by BTV6 personality Max Bartlett, and the Christmas Band…See him arrive right in front of the store on his Santa Special Tram…then follow Santa and his band through the store to the gala opening of Santa’s toy kingdom”.  The ad announced the date and times for Santa and Max to leave the Victoria St, Lydiard St and Barkly St termini, and the Wendouree depot, over the following Saturday mornings.1  

In 1965 The “Courier” ad announced that Santa would be accompanied on the “gaily decorated” Santa special tram by BTV6 personalities Rob and Scotty [Rob was the ventriloquist, Scotty was his puppet].2 

In 1966 Santa visited the Ballarat Orphanage [at the Victoria St terminus] to hand out sweets and balloons.  The “Courier” pictured Santa making farewells to parents and children “before boarding a specially decorated tram in which he made his official entry into the city”.3

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No. 17 as the Bridge St Traders Christmas Tram, 1967 at the Victoria St. terminus.

Photo Richard Jones.

In 1967 Ballarat had two “Santa trams”.  No. 32 was sponsored by Myers, and No. 17 by the Bridge Street traders.

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No. 32, as the Myers Christmas Tram, 1967, Wendouree Parade.

Photo Jim Seletto.

The Interior of No. 32, the Myers Christmas Tram. Don't be too tall!

Photo Tramway Museum Society of Victoria, BTM Collection.

In 1968 No. 21 was spectacularly decorated in a paddle steamer theme as “Santa’s showboat”, complete with portholes for windows.  Early the following year No. 21 was recycled in the same decoration as the Begonia Festival showboat!

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No. 21 lets off school children outside the Myers Store, November 1968. It was necessary for the crew to control the traffic as the children were let off on the "wrong side" for the tram stops in Sturt St. Normally passengers boarded and alighted into the Sturt St. median strip.

Photo Theo Dunstan.

No 21 at the depot, 16/11/1968. For a photo of the tram, "recycled" as the showboat, see our Online Exhibition page "Ballarat Botanic Gardens and its Trams".

Photo Bob Prentice.

In 1969 No. 18 appeared in a blaze of red, white and green with bunting.  The photo on page 100 of “The Golden City and its Tramways” (that does no justice to the bright colour scheme) shows this tram on a charter for Nazareth Boys’ Home.          

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No. 18 at the Lydiard St North Terminus, 1969.

Photo Richard Jones

No. 18 at the intersection of Sturt St and Lydiard St, 1969.

Photo Richard Jones.

In 1970 No. 14 was the last Santa tram.  By the time Christmas 1971 came along, the Ballarat tramway system had closed. 

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No. 14 at the corner of Macarthur St and Drummond St North, 21/11/1970.

Photo Bob Prentice.

and Bendigo had Santa Trams too -

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A Bendigo Birney decorated for Myers in 1969 at the depot entrance.

Photo Bob Prentice.

This article first appeared in the December 2008 Issue of the Museum's house magazine Fares Please!


1. Ballarat Courier 12 November 1964

2. ibid 12 November 1965

3. ibid 21 November 1966

Text Alan Bradley, Layout Warren Doubleday

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