Opportunities for the Docklands precinct

Jackie Watts

There is plenty of maritime opportunities on offer for maritime enthusiasts in the Docklands Precinct in May – and all of it free!

The Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN) encourages all Docklands residents to enjoy these events bringing along the maritime enthusiasts of the future – their children!


Wednesday, May 3, 5pm to 7 pm: Viking Ships in Melbourne - Indeed!   

Erik Thorup will discuss the interest around the world including Melbourne in replicating Viking vessels and will present images of a recent Viking ship launch in Port Phillip Bay. No need to register, simply arrive.
Location: Magnet Gallery, The District, Docklands (86 Bourke St tram to end of the line).


Saturday, May 6, 10am to 12pm: Ship-Spotting: The Bay and Beyond

The venerable global institution, World Ship Society, founded by a small group of dedicated ship enthusiasts in 1946, has since grown into the largest and most prestigious international organisation dedicated to maritime and naval history. This is an opportunity to gain fascinating insight into the compelling pastime of “ship-spotting” and gain knowledge about the vessels regularly seen plying our waters. Free event, but please register via email: [email protected]

Location: Port Education Centre, 343-383 Lorimer St, Port Melbourne.


Thursday, May 11, 5pm to 7pm: Wreck Diving in the Bay: Wonder in the deep

A fascinating presentation of the wreck riches around Port Phillip Bay by senior archaeologist for Heritage Victoria, Danielle Wilkinson. No need to register, simply arrive.

Location: City of Melbourne, Waterways Office, Suite 120, 439 Docklands Drive, (86 Bourke St tram – end of the line)


Wednesday, May 17, 5pm to 7pm: Melbourne’s Spencer St Bridge – Remarkable maritime infrastructure story.

Led by historian, author and librarian Fiona Campbell. Free event, no need to register, simply arrive.
Location: Magnet Gallery, The District Centre, Docklands (86 Bourke St tram).


Greenline – what is in a “name”? Lots.

Let’s be clear – MMHN staunchly supports the City of Melbourne Greenline Trail project.

Like other Docklands Precinct stakeholders, MMHN was pleased to respond to a recent invitation to participate in further Greenline Project design consultations at the Docklands Community Centre looking at multiple images of the evolving design.

Regrettably, the images presented once again revealed only a minimal grasp of the significance and value of maritime heritage.

For example, the council persists in erroneously designating specific sections of Greenline as “Maritime” and “Salt Water”.

Firstly “Maritime” trade and operations dominated both riverbanks along the entire Birrarung-Yarra River from Birrarung to the Bay. Maritime heritage was not confined to a specific section of Greenline. The river actually enabled Melbourne’s prosperity along its length.

Secondly, inaccuracy also occurs in relation to the section designated “Salt Water”, which is not, and never was, salt water. This section is part of the Birrarung-Yarra River tidal estuary, which was re-configured so successfully by Coode and Brady.

Even more bewildering – this unique section of great heritage significance, a world-renowned marvel of civil engineering (North Wharf and Victoria Harbour is actually not acknowledged in the current Greenline design).

Another bewildering example is that the park at the tip of north wharf is designated “Eco” Park. This is lazy, generic marketing speak. The name of the park should rightly reflect the engineering brilliance of Sir John Coode and Joseph Brady central to the existence of North Wharf and Victoria Harbour. See here.

MMHN argues “names” used along Greenline actually matter – a lot. Place “names” serve to raise public awareness and, in a sense, educate. The City of Melbourne has a responsibility, as well an opportunity, to properly “name” sections of Greenline so as to accurately reflect cultural and maritime history.   

MMHN applauds the environmental and ecological commitment embedded in the current Greenline design but strongly argues that celebrating these aspects of the Birrarung-Yarra River story should not require devaluing the significance of Melbourne’s marvellous maritime heritage.

We encourage all Docklands Precinct residents to have their say on the evolving Greenline Master Plan ...



Central Pier – salvage

In response to maritime stakeholder concerns, MMHN contacted Development Victoria (DV) for confirmation that the demolition contractor for Central Pier has been directed to retrieve the large posters and to salvage the bollards at the wharf edges of Central Pier.

The condition of these posters is generally quite poor and the retrieval may render the posters beyond re-use. As a precaution, DV has taken high-resolution photos of the most legible posters, and this will enable them to be reprinted or reinterpreted in a different format or way.

DV reminds us that the Central Pier Demolition Permit (P37012) calls for a Salvageable Materials Report to be issued by DV to Heritage Victoria to record what, if any, materials were able to be salvaged once the demolition is completed. •

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