Ferny Grove Tramway Museum – A Rattle Through Time

I’m a history lover, so when I found out there was a museum in Brisbane dedicated to the city’s old trams, I was in. Better yet, a few of these are operational and you get to have a short ride on them around the museum! Running since 1980, the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum is maintained by volunteers, has a shop with tram memorabilia, pleasant surrounds and a shed dedicated to the history of Brisbane’s trolleybuses.

As I was hoping to ride on all six trams that run at the museum, my partner and I arrived at the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum just after opening. We walked across the dry-grassed courtyard (please rain Brisbane) and over to the shop where we purchased our tickets. As soon as we stepped outside, we were beckoned over to tram number 47 to start our tour.  

The Atmosphere

The Ferny Grove Tramway Museum – also known as the Brisbane Tramway Museum – is a sweet little place located in Brisbane’s suburb of Ferny Grove. It’s not big but it’s large enough to accommodate a tram tour nicely. As I’ve mentioned, Brisbane is particularly dry at the moment, and getting hotter, so the museum grounds felt a bit parched.

Looking out at dry Brisbane – note the original safety grips inside the tram

Saying that, there were a few trees around and the shop, trams, waiting stations and sheds provide respite from Brissie’s unrelenting sun. The tram track starts off out the front of the shop and travels up towards the main tram shed, which is named in memory of Ferny Grove Tramway Museum’s first president, Bill Daniells. The track doesn’t quite complete a full circle, but the museum is hoping (and waiting) that funding will change this.

Bill Daniells Memorial Tram Shed

There are a few bits of memorabilia lying about – such as the old city electric light switch box, but apart from that the museum grounds are fairly non-descript in appearance. However, inside the trams, sheds and the shop, the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum will show you a new side to Brisbane for a couple of hours. I particularly loved the old posters on the tram walls, which tell you a bit about the times.

The Trams – Ferny Grove Tramway Museum

The Ferny Grove Tramway Museum has six operating trams that you can experience in motion and you’ll typically be taken on a chronological adventure, riding on the oldest first, right through to the newest. I’ll only provide brief descriptions here so you can find out more for yourself. The following are the trams we rode in order.

Tram 47

This is the oldest tram and forty-seven is my favourite number. I’m not joking! Anyway, this little beauty was built in 1901 and was known as the standard combination car, as its seats run both horizontally and vertically. I love this one as it’s more novel-looking.

Tram 47

Tram 65

The next one you’ll likely ride on is Tram 65, which was built in 1921. As you can see, it was quite the looker.

Tram 65

Tram 99

This was another favourite of mine, which I termed ‘the silver bullet’. This one’s very small, as it was designed solely to transport passengers up the very steep street of Gregory Terrace, which other trams couldn’t do. Our guide told us that it contained sand, which could be dropped both in front of and behind the tram to stop it from crashing into cars or people! Great lateral thinking contingency plan!

Tram 99, sporting a sign of the times

Tram 341

This one was built in 1936 and it was able to carry more passengers, it had air brakes and it was more enclosed to protect passengers and the driver from the weather.

Tram 341 on the move

Trams 429 & 554

As you can see, the design gradually gets more modern, adding conveniences and luxuries. Tram 429 was the last tram design and tram 554 entered service on Brisbane’s roads in 1964 and was the tram that marked the final closure of Brisbane’s tram system. Interestingly, tram 554 was one of eight trams built from the scraps of trams destroyed in the Paddington Tram Depot fire in 1926, which was one of the largest fires in Brisbane’s history.

Tram 429
Built from the ashes, Tram 554

Note: not all the trams listed in this post are guaranteed to run when you visit, as they require constant upkeep.

Our Journey

It really was fun riding in the trams at the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum, I’m not just saying that! The track is very short, but on the straight the ‘motorman’ (the tram driver), gave it a little bit and it felt like we were really travelling. Especially on the newer trams! Check out my video at the end to see what I mean. The trams were moderately crowded at times but there was room enough to sit where you wanted to.

Tips for a Better Experience:

  • Sit in the middle if you want to hear all the stories clearly from the volunteers. We sat up the front and back for fun and often missed what was being said.
  • You might catch a little sun on a hot day, so just be mindful to wear a hat, or if you’re wearing shorts like I did, keep your legs out of the sun.
  • There were a few young kids on our tram rides and they seemed to love it. However, when the guides talk about the history, or when we had to wait to change trams because of a minor mishap, it gets a bit much for the kids. One couple with five young kids (five!) just left early. You can get off whenever you want to, provided the conductor or motorman tells you it’s safe to do so.
The tour is good for the little ones, but they might get bored!

Our Guides

Our Ferny Grove Tramway Museum guides were Max, Alex and Sel, our motorman. These guys were great, as they were super knowledgeable, patient and being volunteers, they did it all for free! They know a lot about Brisbane and its trams and trolleybuses, so if you’re an enthusiast, be sure to ask them questions. I love how they were decked out in old-fashioned garb too – as conductors and motormen. This certainly added to the atmosphere.

Alex on the left, Max on the right. Love the attire!

The Tramway Shop

Tram and history enthusiasts will enjoy the tram shop, as apart from a few snacks, there are old photographs, books and videos to look at. One cool thing inside the shop is the tram driving simulator. I tried to operate it, but didn’t have much luck. Let me know if you manage to get it working.

The museum shop
Tram simulator

Tram & Trolleybus Shed

Other points of interest at the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum are the tram & trolleybus sheds. I particularly enjoyed exploring the trolleybus shed, as you could walk in an old trolleybus and we enjoyed looking at the photographs of modern trolleybuses in use all around the world today. The tram shed also had some interesting information on the old tram routes around Brisbane neighbourhoods (see below).

The trolleybus shed
Old routes displayed in the tram shed


There are toilets on site and the shop sells water, chocolate and soft drinks. There’s also a large grassy area with seats and some shade between the shop and the tram tracks should you need a rest. The museum also has an old waiting station (original) that provides shelter. Unfortunately, the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum is not wheelchair friendly.  

Space to relax at the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum

Our Experience Overall

Unless you just jumped straight to this part, you can probably tell by now that we enjoyed our time at the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum. There were times when the waiting and stories got a tad long, but that didn’t really detract from the experience overall. Some stories told on the tour were quite interesting, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.  

The fact that our ticket prices maintain the upkeep of the place and it’s run by volunteers, certainly makes you appreciate the experience in all. The boys had a few minor repairs to do while we were riding, so I can’t imagine what it’s like when there are major repairs. I appreciate the hard work fellas!

One more thing is that the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum is hoping to run the trams in a complete circle around the site but they need more funding to do so. Still, it’s good as stands but may improve even more in the future!

A Few Fast Facts

  • The Ferny Grove Tramway Museum is also known as the Brisbane Tramway Museum and it’s located in the suburb of Ferny Grove.
  • We drove there but you could also walk to/from Ferny Grove Train Station, which takes about 15 minutes. There’s plenty of parking on site.
  • The tour goes for roughly two hours (at least it did for us), but people were coming and going all the time.
  • The Ferny Grove Tramway Museum is open on Sundays, from 12:30 to 4pm. However, you can also visit by ‘special arrangement’. Check out the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum website for more info.
  • Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $13 concession, $9 for children and there’s a family pass of $50. Children under school age are free. Of course, these prices cover all tram rides.
  • The Ferny Grove Tramway Museum doesn’t open on rainy days, for safety.

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