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Editions

Jackie’s Docklands maritime vision

28 Mar 2018

Jackie’s Docklands maritime vision Image

By Meg Hill

City of Melbourne (CoM) councillor Jackie Watts has released an independent report into the establishment of a Maritime Heritage Network Project.

Cr Watts put the report together in an independent capacity, with significant help from members of Seaworks, the Heritage Fleet and the Mission to Seafarers (MtSF).

“Although I am aware of strong interest in maritime heritage among my colleagues on council and this is shared by relevant officers, it seems that the Melbourne ‘maritime vision’ has stalled of late,” Cr Watts says in her report. “A consequence is that any such endeavour will fail in the future unless action is taken now. Let’s hope that relevant stakeholders working together in this project will prevent this.”

Criticism of past funding and strong encouragement to invest in the Docklands’ maritime environment are salient parts of the preliminary report.

The report admits that “when viewed collectively” investment from the state government, CoM and private sector benefactors seems considerable, but continues:

“Funding to date appears to have been patchy, sporadic, ad hoc, reactive, and dispersed. Consequently, the overall return on investment has not yet been fully optimised.”

“After extensive consultation with key stakeholders, what has emerged is the urgent need to seriously boost not only the remnant Maritime Precinct in Docklands, but also engage with and harness the opportunity to promote the Maritime Heritage of Greater Melbourne as a whole.”

The Maritime Heritage Network would include local favourites The Mission to Seafarers and the Heritage Fleet berthed at Victoria Harbour, including its on-land facilities.

As such, two of the project objectives are to retain and expand the Heritage Fleet and MtSF sites.

As reported elsewhere in this edition, the caretakers of the tall ship Alma Doepel have just had their operation lease at Shed 2 extended for a further year.

The report states that to support and progress the Melbourne maritime “brand’, the CoM should not only ensure the Heritage Fleet remains in Victoria Harbour, but also attract more heritage ships to Docklands.

But, significantly, the report also calls for new facilities to be built. Cr Watts recommends the establishment in Docklands of a maritime museum, a maritime operations depot and an adjacent education facility at Fishermans Bend.

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