Celebrating Docklands’ waterways

Docklands waterways will be on show next month during a major celebration of Melbourne’s heritage.

The Melbourne Regatta and Blessing of the Fleet coincides with Melbourne Day on August 30 and, as in previous years, will see a flotilla of boats fill Victoria Harbour.

Organised by the Melbourne Passenger Boat Association, the regatta aims to celebrate and recognise the waterways and those who work on and around them.

“We want to celebrate the waterways, the people who work on the waterways and those who have arrived in Melbourne via the waterways,” Melbourne Passenger Boat Association president Jeff Gordon said.

“In particular, we want to acknowledge those who have lost their lives on the sea.”

It’s sure to make for a grand celebration, with Melbourne Day celebrations also taking place in Docklands on the day. This year marks the 180th anniversary of the arrival of Melbourne’s settlers in 1835 onboard the Enterprize.

Melbourne Regatta and Blessing of the Fleet event co-ordinator Bill Reid said there was sure to be plenty happening in Docklands, including a free ferry service in Victoria Harbour.

“The official part of the day will commence with a welcome to country ceremony and Father Bob will then preside over the blessing of the fleet,” Mr Reid said.

“Visitors will enjoy live entertainment from Daryl Braithwaite and Russell Morris and you can shop at the Docklands Sunday Market, sample from food stalls and local cafes and listen to mass choirs singing sailors hymns.”

Many charter boats will also be running paid trips into the port.

This year is the third time the regatta has been held in Docklands in recent years. The first ever Melbourne Day Regatta was held on August 30, 1838.

“Docklands has the waterways, which are a great asset for Melbourne and largely underutilised. We feel that an annual regatta and blessing of the fleet is appropriate for a harbour city,” Mr Reid said.

According to Mr Reid, the event continues to grow year on year.

“In 2014 we estimated between 3000 and 4000 people in attendance and this year we hope to see as many as 5000 people flocking to see the rich entertainment,” Mr Reid said.

Mr Gordon said organisers aimed to attract boats moored in Port Phillip Bay to the regatta through a lead-in event on the Saturday afternoon.

He encouraged people of all ages to come along to the Regatta, Blessing of the Fleet and Melbourne Day celebrations.

“It’s a free family day out with plenty of activities,” Mr Gordon said.

Event organisers also encourage attendees to use public transport to travel to and from the event.

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