Last weekend, two friends took me up to Bendigo for a surprise birthday dinner on board Bendigo's Restaurant tram - NineSevenSix (W6.976).
Despite being "mad" on trams since my youth, I have actually yet to have dinner on the Melbourne Restaurant tram, so riding on 976 was my first encounter with a restaurant tram as such.
For those unaware, the evening begins at Wine Bank (a wine bar on View St) where you are offered a complimentary drink. Following this, staff from the tram collect you from the upstairs bar and walk you down to the Alexandra Fountain, where 976 sits all illuminated and ready to roll.
The trip all up is about 2.5 hours, with two stops - one at the Tram Depot (sadly the shed doors were locked, but myself and mate had a peek through the gaps) and another later in the evening at the Deborah Gold Mine.
At times I was not paying attention to where we were going, but the journey roughly went as follows:
Alexandra Fountain -> Deborah Gold Mine entrance -> Joss House -> Tram Depot (toilet stop) -> Joss House -> Deborah Gold Mine entrance (toilet stop) -> Gas Works Depot -> Alexandra Fountain
I might be a little off course towards the end there!
I must say the experience was very enjoyable and my friends who took me up both said they found the tram much more spacious than the Melbourne restaurant trams - I believe 976 seats less which explains the difference. I enjoyed seeing Bendigo at a slow pace, I discovered buildings and features I have missed on trips on the Talking Tram.
For those interested, the menu is online at www.bendigoninesevensix.com.au
I personally had the Tiger Prawns as an entrée, Beef for the main and the ice cream for desert. The food was top quality, mixed in with a good selection of premium beers and local wines.
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