Calling all shipping enthusiasts!
By Jackie Watts
Now that we are unmasked and strolling about unencumbered by compulsory mask-wearing, Docklands residents are literally very well placed to enjoy a bit more ship “spotting”.
It’s a fun pastime enhanced by knowing more about what you are seeing around the waterways of your Docklands neighbourhood. The World Ship Society (Victorian Branch) produces a wonderfully informative monthly newsletter about all sorts of vessels to be seen regularly around at Docklands. For example, the record-smashing CMA CGM vessel Ural container ship built in 2015 which departed Melbourne in late September having recorded the largest container exchange to date (8094 TEU) from Webb Dock from September 22 to 26, eclipsing the former record holder, the vessel Maersk Sydney’s (7430 TEU) a few weeks earlier at East Swanson Dock. (For your information – a “TEU” is a measure of volume in units of 20-foot long containers, which stands for twenty-foot equivalent unit. Very Large container ships are able to transport more than 18,000 TEU (a few can even carry more than 21,000 TEU)). Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN) encourages you to follow ships online with shipping news updated hourly! See: vicports.vic.gov.au/operations/Pages/ship-movements.aspx:4
Turning from huge ships to charming heritage vessels, did you hear the cast of the Good Girl Song Project singing sweetly while filming their production on vessel Enterprize on Collins Wharf on a warm still night recently? Listen to this and see plenty of Docklands images: thegoodgirlsongproject.com. The project offers a female perspective of an early Australian immigration story set in Australia’s complex colonial past. Amid the convict boats arriving each week from Britain, another boat carrying a different “cargo” set sail for Australia. On board the boat are 287 single and free women heading off to the “end of the world” where a “better” life awaits. These “good girls” have been promised good wages, good work and good marriage prospects in the new colony. However, to reach this new and “better life” they had first to survive the long dangerous voyage and then survive the prejudice and poverty in the colony. The Good Girl Song Project is the work of Helen Begley and based on the book Single and Free by MMHN board member Dr Liz Rushen.
Moving now from the versatile ship to stage Enterprize to a more recent heritage vessel literally undergoing repair at your Docklands doorstep at Southbank.
The MV Grower, built in 1924, for the Kincumber Grower’ Co-operative in NSW to transport produce from the many market gardens around Brisbane Water – an estuary located in the Central Coast region. In 2002 she was brought to Melbourne in a very sad state of disrepair. Fortunately for those of us concerned about maritime heritage, the current owners, Classic Steamboat Cruises, has gradually and very comprehensively restored her over the years by replacing all of the ribs, 60 per cent of the planking, installing a new stem post, wheelhouse, deck and deck beams, sponsons, rudder and engine. Maritime heritage stakeholders everywhere are pleased to see she has been given such meticulous care and attention – and a lot of the work has been visible from the banks of the CBD at Berth 3 Southbank lower Promenade. Classic Steamboat Cruises is expanding the Yarra heritage “flotilla” in 2022 to include the SL Protector built in 1917, currently under restoration. See classicsteamboatcruises.com.au.
Leaving the waterways now, the MMHN is delighted to discover that the long-awaited Docklands Primary School has plans to embrace the spirit of its unique Docklands location and its new school logo indicates this.
MMHN hopes to develop an ongoing supportive relationship with this brand new school and that all students, teachers and parents come to understand the significance of Docklands in our past and in our present. Melbourne’s prosperity in the past originates from our Docklands and continues today. Melbourne is the largest port in the nation. Melbourne is indeed a great maritime city and pupils at the new school will be at its heart. May all of those involved in establishing this Docklands school, and all the new students, have great fun and become the maritime heritage enthusiasts of the future.