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Renewed push for maritime museum

Calls for a new maritime heritage museum in Docklands were heightened last month at the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network’s (MMHN) inaugural annual general meeting (AGM).

Held at Melbourne Town Hall on October 23, the event was well attended by a variety of prominent maritime, heritage and business figures and was spearheaded by MMHN chair and City of Melbourne Cr Jackie Watts.

The inaugural MMHN board was established last year in an effort to recognise Melbourne as one of the great maritime cities of the world; something that Cr Watts said was not given “due recognition.”

“It is languishing, squandered, mired in a tangle of conflicting agendas and competing responsible authorities,” Cr Watts said. “Comparable cities around the globe acknowledge, celebrate and exploit their maritime heritage.”

“Our maritime riches are hidden, ignored or widely dispersed and lack connectivity. We must change this!”

As part of its five key actions, the MMHN said that it would continue to work to establish a Docklands Maritime Museum, as well as a Marine Skills Specialist Centre at Kangan TAFE in Docklands.

Speaking at the AGM, City of Melbourne CEO Justin Hanney said that the council stood ready to assist the network with the “significant resources” necessary to ensure our maritime heritage was brought to life.

“We should be looking at ways for Melbourne to emulate the strategies that other cities have had success with,” Mr Hanney said. “There is a lot more we can do and the lot more that the state government can do.”

“One of our priorities is to ensure that the right space in our city is used for key maritime buildings and Docklands should absolutely be a focus in this regard.”

“I think there is great potential for Melbourne’s rich maritime history to be shared and represented to the benefits of all parties.”

Guest speakers at the event also included former City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Trevor Huggard and executive director of Heritage Victoria Steven Avery.

The meeting was also attended by head tenant of Central Pier and Atlantic Group CEO Hatem Saleh, who pledged his membership in support of the network’s mission to preserve Dockland’s heritage maritime infrastructure at Victoria Dock.

“It’s no secret what’s happened down there with Central Pier and obviously it’s very important to hear Justin speaking and of course Trevor and Steven about the importance of Victoria Dock and the fact that it’s the last remaining working pier,” he said.

“Congratulations to the network. Central Pier will become a corporate member. It’s always great to see the enthusiasm and I think this is a completely lost area in the city and unlike San Francisco, Chicago and all of the other places that manage to create an incredible working pier, it’s quite sad what’s happened down in Docklands.”

Other key actions of the MMHN include a maritime waterways trail, a marine operation service depot and expanding Melbourne’s foundation heritage fleet in Victoria Harbour. It is also advocating for a single maritime authority to coordinate all aspects of maritime management.

For more information visit mmhn.org.au

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