On Thursday 3 August, Bendigo Tramways and Fosterville Gold Mine officially launched the “Bendigo – Built on gold” tram which pays homage to the foundational role that gold has played in Bendigo’s past and continues to have for the future.
The newly wrapped tram which will join Bendigo Tramways’ Vintage Talking Tram fleet, sparkles gold in the sun and recognises that gold is still as important to the city’s prosperity today, as it was in the past.
Former manager of Central Deborah Gold Mine (which now operates as a tourist attraction), the late Ray Beer, remembered the Bendigo of his childhood in the 1940s and 50s as "streets that literally flowed with gold".
"The streets around Bendigo were all dirt back then. After a good rain, in just about any gutter, you could pan for gold. We used to do well out of it too, enough to buy our drinks, lollies and comic books. For those of us who came from large families we would give a bit back to our mothers," Ray recalled.*
While the Bendigo skyline is no longer defined by poppet heads, the influence of the gold rush is still evident in the city’s broad boulevards, ostentatious public buildings and iconic
gardens. The city of Bendigo is built on gold and the unique geology of the Bendigo region continues to bring prosperity to the region.
“In March this year, Fosterville Gold Mine, located just 20 mins north east of Bendigo, poured its four millionth ounce of gold since current operations commenced in 2005,” said Lance Faulkner, General Manager of Agnico Eagle’s Fosterville Gold Mine.
In the same way that the original gold rush brought prosperity to Bendigo, Fosterville Gold Mine’s success has continued a legacy of prosperity for the broader region, with over 800 people employed at the mine and millions of dollars invested into community-led initiatives through the mine’s social responsibility program.
However, Lance was also keen to highlight that: “Modern mining is very different in terms of scale, technology and environmental management”.
“As an organisation we are determined to meaningfully and consistently give back to the communities in which we operate, while at the same time minimising our impact on the environment, so that we leave a positive legacy once mining ceases,” said Lance.
“It has been a privilege to partner with Fosterville Gold Mine to introduce the “Bendigo - Built on gold” tram as a key part of our Vintage Talking Tram fleet. The transformation of Tram No. 880 included refurbishment by the skilled Bendigo Tramways workshop team. We believe this tram will be an icon which the Bendigo community can be proud of, and one which will inspire visitation to the city,” explained James Reade, CEO, Bendigo Heritage Attractions.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with Bendigo Heritage Attractions on this project linking Bendigo’s rich history of mining in the past to the present day and thank them for making it a reality,” Lance concluded.