Young people REALLY matter to MMHN!

Jackie Watts

Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN) is intent upon growing maritime heritage “awareness” among young people; that is, creating maritime enthusiasts of the future! We have hurdles to overcome.

Melburnians have forgotten that we live in Australia’s major Port City of our island nation. Today, our ports remain the basis of prosperity and they are now largely hidden from public gaze.

The maritime sector is still at the heart of our national economy and our defence. What can be done to bring this crucial knowledge into focus for the young – whose future it is after all.

First things first – let’s start with the obvious

All of us, regardless of the topic, don’t “know” what we don’t know. MMHN perceived this to be true about maritime heritage. We noted that for children there was little information available to them.

So, MMHN commissioned and recently launched, the very first-ever historically accurate children’s book (years 7 to 12) about Victoria’s maritime history entitled River to Bay. The cost of this 40-page, beautifully illustrated, hardcover publication is $25. Docklands parents can order by email [email protected] or phone 0400 305 323.


Former Victorian Premier Ted Ballieu, Jackie Watts and Deputy Lord Mayor Nick Reece launch River to Bay.


Again, stating the obvious. Many of us fail to “see” what we are not actually looking for.

Although Docklands children (and all residents) live in a unique maritime location, it comes very much “alive” if we actually take a purposeful look around at their maritime environment. This is why MMHN established the Annual Children Art Exhibition at Docklands Primary School. An award ceremony takes place at Centre Stage at the Boat Show.

Finally, MMHN recently hosted a Children’s Maritime Heritage Medley Program, a strategy directed at engaging young people, but which actually seemed to be of considerable interest to adults too!

At the Library at the Dock theatre, the medley three-hour program showcased six maritime related organisations. e.g., Heritage Victoria (Wrecks), Seaworks, Offshore & Specialist Ships, Steam Tug Wattle, the Polly Woodside, Waterways Branch (City of Melbourne), U3A Maritime Quiz and Mission to Seafarers Sea Shanty Singing.

It was a program somewhat akin to “speed-dating” or toe-dipping in that each maritime organisation gave a 10-minute presentation on a fascinating maritime topic and, we hope, a tantalising range of information and activities.

There was plenty to excite and engage many in the community – as well as the children. •

MMHN is keen to hear your thoughts or suggestions about events or activities to best engage children. Please email [email protected]


Main caption: Photos from the Children’s Maritime Heritage Medley Program hosted by the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network. Photos: Hanna Komissarova.

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