A TRAM that had been operating as a bed and breakfast is being lovingly restored for the second time after a tree crashed through it during a storm in July.
The 1920s tram was falling into ruin when Angela Henley bought the property it was sitting on six years ago. Ms Henley took the tram on as a passion project and had recently completed the restoration when the June storms raged through the Macedon Ranges and Lauriston property.
"It was just a shell (when we bought the property) with its windows smashed and parts of it caved in," she said. "It was the reason I bought the place because I thought it was something I could bring back to life.
"I spent the last five years chipping away at it and finally got it to a point a couple months ago where there was nothing else to do. And then 'ka-bam'."
Ms Henley said she was in shock when her husband came back with the news the tram - known as Jean-Claude Van Tram - had been destroyed.
"I just couldn't quite believe it. (The tree) has gone straight through the middle," she said. "Once we cleared the branches and foliage, it wasn't as bad as we initially thought. The bedroom was completely untouched but part of the lounge, kitchen and bathroom are completely gone."
Repairs and restorations are estimated to cost around $100,000 with Ms Henley having to cut down number of other trees following the storm. Her friends have rallied for her and set-up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the project.
"There were so many others struggling from the storm that I was a bit hesitant (about a GoFundMe)," Ms Henley said. "We are midway through having $20,000 worth trees taken off the property and I am hoping for a government grant (for people who lost assets in storms). We will have a garage sale at the place.
"It will be about $60,000 for the tram to be rebuilt and some income loss as well. The day it happened, I had to cancel about $25,000 worth of bookings. It's a unique build but we haven't been able to get into parts of the tram until we start demolishing it."
Since being set-up as a BnB in 2015, the tram has attracted hundreds of five-star reviews. After being closed for most of 2020, Ms Henley had not long re-opened the doors to her unique accommodation.
"I reckon we had about three months of being open last year," she said. "People love and appreciate the option to escape the city, sit around by the fire and look at the stars.
"It's a passion project for me. If I didn't restore it, I would be disappointed I couldn't bring it to life. It's a 95-year-old tram and a piece of history.
"It's been a long labour of love and I am just determined to do it again."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: