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Good News Bill - April 2016

31 Mar 2016

A reflection on Docklands’ history as autumnal leaves begin to fall, the days grow shorter and Victoria Harbour, like a gigantic mirror, reflects the mood of the changing seasons with aplomb.

As always, a beautiful time to be in Docklands.

Docklands is symbolic of a by-gone era. Author and historian Dr Gary Presland describes in a recent paper he wrote in The Victorian Naturalist 131: 96–105 (2014) – “A boggy question: differing views of wetlands in 19th century Melbourne” – the reasons Melbourne was chosen as a place to build a village.

He wrote” “The specific location chosen was largely determined by the presence of reliable source of potable water. An area on the northern bank of the river adjacent to a rocky bar that was the limit of tidal reach, represented the most suitable site available for settlement, lightly timbered and sufficiently raised above the flood level.”

Governor Richard Bourke described it as “a beautiful and convenient site”. As Melbourne developed, Docklands emerged as the logical place for a port with its existing wetlands providing perfect conditions to accommodate the growing number of ships arriving in Melbourne.
Docklands has been stripped of many symbols of the past – what we have left “doth butter no parsnips”, as the saying goes. The on-going development of Docklands should strive to preserve our relics and breathe life into the modern precinct that it is becoming.  

Places Victoria is recognising the importance of preserving our history as custodians of some rich historical records. Currently under development is an interactive walking tour for visitors to discover the history of Docklands.

This is a great initiative and is part of the jigsaw to further inject a sense of place into Docklands. Further elements include establishing public exhibits reflecting the past to enable visitors to take a step back in time and immerse themselves in a distinctly unique Docklands experience.

We know from global experience that cities that preserve and celebrate their heritage and history are high on visitor destinations.

Docklands is not an ancient city, however there is a tremendous story of discovery to be told and a rich history of the people who lived in the area for 50,000 years before European contact.

We are fortunate to have a number of heritage vessels such as the Enterprize, the Alma Doepel, Polly Woodside and the Steam Tug Wattle that call Docklands home. Putting these classic vessels prominently on display would be a great tourist draw card.

It is not difficult to imagine the spectacle of tall ships resplendent on the harbour front as you travel down LaTrobe St, or stand in awe as they are illuminated on a winter’s night.
Docklands, with this backdrop, would become the destination of choice and another great reason to claim Melbourne as the most liveable city in world.

The question “what is there in Docklands?” would be answered once and for all. The scenario is within our grasp, the community should ask for it!

You can start by discovering more about the Docklands’ heritage fleet, located at the far end of Collins St down North Wharf Rd, and start imagining what Docklands would look like with these majestic vessels on permanent public display.

This would be the gateway to Docklands and be a place to tell the many stories of how Melbourne and Docklands came to be.

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