A LIT­TLE FLIGHT READ­ING

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

AUS­TRALIAN HER­ITAGE The Melbourne Tram Book

Ran­dall Wil­son and Dale Budd (UNSW Press, $24.95) AU­THORS Ran­dall Wil­son and Dale Budd are de­scribed as tram ex­perts and theirs is a par­tic­u­lar pas­sion. But they can’t be alone in their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Melbourne’s ven­er­a­ble trams as this is the sec­ond edi­tion (the first was in 2003) of their colour­ful homage. There are abun­dant pho­tos, in­clud­ing of trams with spe­cial liv­ery to cel­e­brate an­niver­saries and, this be­ing Melbourne, AFL teams and their mas­cots. (One tram, run­ning through Hawthorn and Colling­wood, is pic­tured with paint­ings of hawks on one side and mag­pies on the other.) Also in­cluded are spec­i­fi­ca­tions and di­a­grams, from the 52-seat W6 class model in­tro­duced in the 1930s to ’ 50s to the sleek 64-seat D2 class. I imag­ine the book is on sale (and will be de­voured by the con­verted) at the Tramway Mu­seum at Kil­more, 56km north of Melbourne, where many trams have been laid to rest. Ap­par­ently, El­ton John bought a Melbourne W-class tram and shipped it to Eng­land to pop at the bot­tom of his Wind­sor gar­den. Susan Kuro­sawa

CITY GUIDE

Bei­jing En­counter Eilis Quinn (Lonely Planet, $18.95) THIS handy guide, small enough to fit in a back pocket, hits the mar­ket at an un­for­tu­nate time, with China reel­ing from a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake. Even so, it pro­vides some in­valu­able point­ers to the Chi­nese cap­i­tal. The Olympics, be­ing hosted by Bei­jing from Au­gust 8 to 24 across 31 venues, mer­its just three pages, but noth­ing is dwelled on in this fast-mov­ing guide to a fast-mov­ing city. Au­thor Eilis Quinn crams in a lot about what she de­scribes as, at present, the world’s ‘‘ most fas­ci­nat­ing place to be’’. On the Olympics, be warned: she says the city has had min­i­mal suc­cess tack­ling en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. Bei­jing’s best-kept se­cret, the au­thor says, is its res­i­dents: brash and out­spo­ken (lit­tle choice in a city of 15 mil­lion, per­haps) with a healthy cu­rios­ity and wicked sense of hu­mour. It’s good to see Pek­ing duck, with best-restau­rant rec­om­men­da­tions, hasn’t mor­phed into Bei­jing duck, which I for one find hard to swal­low. LP has also brought out a sim­i­lar guide to Shang­hai (same cover price). Barry Oliver

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