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North Wharf News - April 2013

04 Apr 2013

The Mission to Seafarers presents itself to visitors as the historic gateway to North Wharf and centre of a growing maritime precinct.

The mission has stood on this spot for 95 years and was once a thriving hub for seafarers whose windjammers would berth outside next to historic Shed 5, delivering goods from around the globe. It was a short walk to the mission where the seafarers would relax and enjoy entertainment affording relief from their otherwise lonely and cramped existence.  Today, the ships have been moved downstream and the mission runs a regular bus service to pick up today’s modern mariners and bring them to their home away from home.

The mission’s unique dome is the Norla Dome. The structure was built with funds raised by the ladies of the Harbour Light Guild as a gymnasium for the health and well being of the seafarers. If you have not visited the Norla Dome lately, then you don’t have long because restoration work is due to commence in May and is expected to be completed by August. The finished result will give renewed vigour and purpose to this iconic feature of the building complex.

Planning is well underway to fully restore the grand old building by her centenary year in 2017. By then tourists will be able to better enjoy and appreciate the maritime history of this area as they casually stroll from the Polly Woodside across the Seafarers Bridge through the Seafarers Rest public gardens to the 100-year-old Mission to Seafarers.  

Gone are most of the goods sheds that once stood here, but today you can enjoy the ambiance of times gone by at the numerous bars, cafes and restaurants that now occupy the remaining refurbished sheds and the World Trade Centre at North Wharf with its calming river views. The Yarra Loop is a ferry service operated by WTC Water Taxis and runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays offering visitors alternative way to experience North Wharf and other Yarra River precincts.

In order for the mission to continue providing a valuable service of caring for the welfare of seafarers, they have to raise every dollar they spend. One way the mission raises money is through functions, regular music nights and Friday lunches.

In March there was a successful music evening with Victor Stranges and DC Caldwell entertaining a very appreciative audience. If you missed that one, then look out for the next music evening on Friday, April 19. This is an evening of blues and a whole lot of soul soothing sounds by the Jacqui Walker Band and Carol McCoy.

Another popular way the mission raises funds is through membership of the exclusive Mission VIP Club known as Crew 717. Members enjoy timely access to information on upcoming events, discounts at the bar and their quarterly newsletter Ship to Shore.

The latest edition of Ship to Shore is now available. This edition tells the story of two and half years of captivity experienced by 22 crew at the hands of nine young pirates aged between 14 and 21 years of age. This is one of the most harrowing and disturbing tales of the hardship and cruelty suffered by modern day mariners. Copies are available now at the mission or download the autumn edition from the website http://www.missiontoseafarers.com.au.

North Wharf is located on the opposite bank of the Yarra to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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