Calls to salvage our “Docklands Squid” mural

Calls to salvage our “Docklands Squid” mural
Sean Car

Many locals may not even be aware that at very end of the North Wharf boat sheds lies a colourful underwater creature greeting those entering Victoria Harbour from the water.

If you’ve never entered Docklands by boat, you may never have realised that on the rugged corrugated surfaces of the shed facing the Bolte Bridge is a giant orange squid mural by Melbourne artist Mike Maka.

Maka has gained global notoriety for his work during a career spanning more than 15 years, with works in private and public collections both here and abroad. He has also exhibited extensively around the world.

His murals will be well known to many Melburnians as he has painted some famous works at many iconic locations throughout the city, including Melbourne Aquarium, the corner of Meyers Place and Bourke St, and ACDC Lane.

In 2017 Maka was commissioned by Development Victoria to paint the end of the boat shed at North Wharf in preparation for the Volvo Ocean Yacht Race as a way of greeting arrivals on their entrance to the harbour and to showcase Melbourne as a creative city.


Mike Maka painting the Docklands Squid in 2017.


Since then, the piece, dubbed the “Docklands Squid” by Maka, has quietly taken up residence alongside the Wooden Boat Centre which is home to Docklands’ fleet of heritage vessels including the steam tug Wattle, the Enterprize and the Alma Doepel. As a means of homage to the area’s maritime heritage, Maka included the Enterprize in the top-right-hand corner of his piece.

With the boat sheds destined for demolition to make way for developer Lendlease’s series of apartment projects along the wharf, calls have emerged for the mural to be salvaged somehow.

Master of the steam tug Wattle Rob Anderson is among those who would like to see the mural spared from the wreckage, stating that it would “be a shame to lose” a mural by such a globally renowned artist as Mike Maka.

Speaking to Docklands News last month, Maka said while he’d always understood his Docklands Squid was destined to be torn down, it would be a great story if it could be preserved elsewhere.

“It was always going to get knocked down, so it’s funny that if that one gets preserved in a special way it would be a great story for me and a quirky thing to happen in the art world I guess,” he said.


It was a bit of a bugger to paint those corrugated surfaces, so personally I don’t think it’s one of my best quality murals but it’s a great location and it was a fun job. I would love to see it salvaged somehow.


Using a scissor lift to access the far reaches of the boat shed, Maka said it took him eight days to complete the Docklands Squid, with its evolution stemming from a narrative of “the ocean coming back and taking over”.

“You just can’t do as much detail on those rough corrugated surfaces. Doing one large thing is the best way to go and there are a lot of little dots on there as you can’t really get a paint brush or a roller to do a straight line,” he said.

“I then used big fades with a spray gun and then [painted] lines with a spray can and used a method there called pointillism, which is where you use a whole lot of dots and create the shape.”

“The eyeball [of the squid] kind of creates the depth of character but you sort of see all of these dots making it up so your brain kind of makes up the information.”

With the sheds not to expected to be removed for some years to come, a spokesperson for Development Victoria said that any works impacting the mural would be taken into consideration.

“There are no works planned at North Wharf in the short- or medium-term, so the mural will remain in place. In the event of any works in the future, we would consider the impact of works on the existing structure and surrounds including the mural,” a spokesperson said.

Know a good location where our Docklands Squid might be rehomed?

Send your ideas to [email protected]

Waterways team to the rescue

Waterways team to the rescue

November 29th, 2023 - Docklands News
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