July 2021 MMHN Update contents:
1. CSIRO – Research in a Maritime Industry
1. CSIRO – Research in a Maritime Industry
2. Australian Heritage Council (AHC) appointment
3. Indigenous Maritime Heritage – Your help is sought!
We are delighted to discover that this important topic is being progressed in further academic research in a project titled: Global Encounters and First Nations Peoples: 1000 years of Australian History.The project, supervised by Monash Professor Lynette Russell AM, seeks to reframe our telling of the who, when, where and how contacts occurred between Indigenous peoples and those who came from across the sea. We are aware that there is a great deal of interest amongst community historians, divers, and ‘detectorists’ in pre-British visitations to the Australian continent, and as part of the project we are undertaking a survey of Torres Strait and the Australian East Coast evidence of contacts which might, for example, involve Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Melanesian or Polynesian visitations. We are seeking to catalogue digital images of artefacts that may have arrived in Australia prior to European settlement, the stories of their discovery, and especially information regarding the location they were found. This includes items in private hands. We acknowledge there may be concerns regarding the laws governing heritage artefacts, especially items that might have been in a family for generations, and anonymity, if requested, is assured. It would be greatly appreciated and acknowledged if curators could advise if they have such items in their collections. The evidence might be scant, contestable and difficult to assess but we would like to hear about it so it can be added to the big picture. We would also, where possible, like Indigenous groups to share with us stories of external contact. Anyone wishing to engage with this great project should email: Lynette.email@example.com See project details at https://www.monash.edu/arts/monash-indigenous-studies/global-encounters-and-first-nations-peoples
4. Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre
Global comparison reveals that Australia can once again count itself the lucky country holding the world’s third largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with a marine territory larger than its landmass. Australia has enormous potential to use its ocean domain to increase seafood and renewable energy production. 80% of our EEZ is classified as offshore i.e., beyond two nautical miles from the coast and subject to oceanic waves, tidal currents and wind – in locations suitable for energy capture and transformation into energy ‘carriers’ such as hydrogen, for storage or export. Examples of research include:
In a report from the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, Adam Morton reports in The Guardian Australia (Online: 22 July 2021) that Australia has ten offshore wind projects under development. The report highlights the as yet untapped potential of this renewable energy resource estimating that potentially more than 2,000GW of offshore wind turbines could be installed in areas within 100km of an electricity substation, noting that the Latrobe and Hunter Valleys close to both transmission grids have strong offshore winds at times in the year when solar and onshore wind output is limited.
In a new book Blue Economy CRC Research Director, Professor Irene Penesis and CEO Dr John Whittington discuss opportunities in Australia’s new Blue Economy industries focusing on offshore aquaculture and offshore renewable energy and the role of the Blue Economy CRC reflecting on the way in which Traditional blue economy industries transition into new environments and sustainably grow in ways that are not currently possible. https://blueeconomycrc.com.au/book-chapter-published-preparing-a-workforce-for-the-new-blue-economy/
Further on maritime workforce transition, The Guardian Australia (22 July 2021) reports that the MUA expresses similar optimism about the potential for blue economy wind farms’ capacity to generate employment for seafarers and offshore rig gas workers presenting an opportunity to transition into the important work delivering Australia’s clean energy future.
Scientific and public scrutiny of the mining industry, cattle feed lots, dairy farming, chicken etc. is familiar to us all – but what of the new areas of exploitation/extraction potentially of immense importance to our economic future where new ethical challenges seem to arise continuously. Aquaculture is no exception. Netting, lines, tracking, krill, kelp, tuna – and salmon. The recent book by Tasmanian Richard Flanagan describes the evolving exponential growth trajectory and looming environmental threat facing the Tasmanian offshore salmon industry. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Gabriella Coslovich (26 July 2021) describes farmed salmon as the battery hens of the sea.See https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-battery-hen-of-the-sea-the-fight-to-clean-up-tassie-salmon-farms-20210624-p58433.html
As the blue economy grapples with rapidly emerging technologies, it’s good to note that the Blue Water CRC recognizes these problems. Blue Water CRC hosted an important roundtable webinar on 28 July on the topic What are the key ethical values relevant to the Blue Economy? Regrettably a recording of this fascinating and topical webinar is not publicly available. MMHN encourages you to register with the Blue Water CRC to receive invitations to such events in the future. See https://blueeconomycrc.com.au/contact/
5. History Council of Victoria (HCV) – Diverse Maritime Heritage Research
Given that due to to varying degrees of lockdown we can’t go far away from home, it is perhaps no surprise that recreational fishing is booming. Although Brisbane joyously secured the 2032 Olympics, Victoria successfully competed for a significant event (depending on your enthusiasm for fishing) of our own! The state government secured hosting rights for the 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference in 2023. Perhaps we can boast a little too – recent surveys of Port Philip by fisheries scientists have recorded the best sand flathead spawning in 24 years!! This augurs well – but how then to reconcile this with the growing litany about the neglect of our much loved and well used Bay piers by Parks Victoria? Note also that the very popular Melbourne Boat Show is now scheduled for June 2022, pandemic permitting.
7. Piers under threat
Parks Victoria is responsible for managing a diverse estate of more than 4 million hectares including 3,000 land and marine parks and reserves making up 18 per cent of Victoria’s landmass, 75 per cent of Victoria’s wetlands and 70 per cent of Victoria’s coastline. Yet is appears to have minimal interest in, or grasp of, there being value at all – social cultural or economic – in the preservation of maritime heritage, or any informed enthusiasm for maritime infrastructure at all. The most recent Parks Victoria Annual Report 2019-2020 (https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/search?search=+Annual+Report+) makes it abundantly clear that maritime matters are not high on the agenda for Parks Victoria. There is scant mention of waterways infrastructure or other relevant maritime matters anywhere. A telling example: current media reports that several heritage piers are degenerating to the point of no return, deemed unsafe. Parks Victoria would not know how well used piers are as pedestrian numbers on piers are not recorded. Maintenance is zero except on matters where public liability rears its head. No wonder piers are falling into the Bay! And what of the Point Nepean National Park, the Quarantine Station of particular significance in these pandemic days and a key maritime heritage site? Such a marvellous location through which to engage meaningfully with the public. See https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/point-nepean-national-park. Parks Victoria have simply looked the other way, their gaze and best efforts are, by default, directed inland.
9. Liverpool Docks Degraded – Parallels with Central Pie
Sobering parallels can be drawn between the sorry saga of Liverpool’s degraded maritime precinct and Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, specifically regarding Central Pier and Victoria Harbour. Both, like Liverpool’s famous dock area, have been awarded significant maritime heritage status. But in 2013 Liverpool council approved a Docklands Re-development Plan worth £5.5 billion for skyscrapers, a cruise liner terminal and thousands of apartments on the Docklands site. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned Liverpool that such insensitive planning (particularly the Everton football stadium on heritage waterfront land) would have adverse consequences, including the possible loss of Liverpool’s World Heritage status. UNESCO said the planned developments could irreversibly damage the city’s historic Docklands Precinct, warning that Liverpool may lose the outstanding universal values for which it was granted World Heritage status in 2004. Together with outstanding universal values is of course, the ‘elephant in the room’: potential economic loss of declining property values, which are eroded over time.
Fast forward to 2011, UNESCO expressed concern that the height of planned buildings including the tallest tower outside London, which would significantly alter the skyline and fragment the dock area and threatened the heritage significance value of the city’s waterfront. There are, of course, differences today between Liverpool, recognised as a former major trading centre during the British Empire; and Melbourne, which remains a fully operational major national port city – one with a rich maritime heritage.
Fast forward again to 2021 – Liverpool Docklands is set to lose its World Heritage Status. Without question, the unique maritime heritage in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct is significant to Melbourne and to Australia as a whole. Across the globe, for example in Europe, South America, China and the USA, Docklands precincts like ours are celebrated, enhanced and genuinely valued. Yet the threat of ‘investment’ pressure from rapacious, inappropriate real estate development in Docklands continues to threaten. How perplexing it is to consider that Liverpool, granted such elevated World Heritage Status – site of the most marvellous Royal Albert Dock opened in 1846, the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood as well as the first non-combustible warehouse system in the world, later to feature the world’s first hydraulic cranes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Albert_Dock,_Liverpool
Yet despite this extraordinary world-renowned maritime heritage, Liverpool appears to have succumbed to the irresistible lure of inappropriate and insensitive development. Liverpool appears to have been induced by developers to squander its maritime heritage values. Although initially reluctant to value its maritime heritage assets, Melbourne now seems, to an extent, to be ‘pausing’. A pandemic induced re-focus perhaps? A realization that Docklands developments which detract or threaten our remaining maritime heritage assets are simply ‘not on’? Maritime heritage enthusiasts are only too aware of this. There is still time for Central Pier to be sensitively restored and redeveloped; derelict wharves enclosing Victoria Harbour can be restored; ferry infrastructure to enable expanded waterway activation can be installed. With intelligent development planning in Docklands, maritime heritage can be preserved and celebrated. This will benefit us all.
10. Stella Maris Seafarers Centre
11. Seafarers plight during COVID
12. Cruising – Post Pandemic Denmark to reopen for cruise calls from 26 June
13. MMHN Maritime Museum of the Month
The Canowindra fauna is a very rich Late Devonian fish fauna. All of the fossil specimens are preserved on a single bedding plane, part of an ancient fish community which had been trapped in a pool of water, which dried up, killing the fish. Incoming sediments later buried these fishes quickly and quietly, with minor disturbance to the fish skeletons. The Canowindra site is listed as part of Australia’s National Heritage because of its international scientific importance.
14. More on Dead Fishes – of the most regrettable kind
Board members of MMHN and OSSA met via zoom this month with senior officers from the Office of Minister Gayle Tierney. In essence this meeting was to share our serious concerns that Skills Training is lurching into an ever more serious deficit. We are attempting to counter the ‘amnesia’, which permeates the education sector in relation to maritime skills. The same type of ‘amnesia’, identified by MMHN, which has prevented due recognition of our rich maritime heritage, also seems to be ‘blind-siding’ the development of our national maritime skills capability. This deficit ‘creep’ is insidious. The diversity and scope of maritime industry careers is poorly understood within the education sector, with unfortunate flow-on effects – fewer options for careers being offered to students, supressing the demand for courses, diminishing the number of skilled teachers, therefore industry demand for skilled workers can’t be met, and the result? Off-shore recruitment of workers while our national maritime capability spirals downward. OSSA and MMHN are tackling this ever more serious problem by meeting with government to inform and influence decision-makers at all levels of government. Should any maritime enthusiast with education sector expertise please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the MMHN Board met via zoom this month to discuss the implementation of the Yarra River Implementation Strategy with officers from office of the Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Water . MMHN expressed the view that the governance for properly managing our urban waterways needs urgent reform. The unwieldy multi-layered current structure impedes progress and stymies optimum use of this valuable public asset. MMHN commended those at Melbourne Water who respectfully and thoughtfully sought wide stakeholder engagement. MMHN is pleased that the views we submitted in relation to achieving due recognition of maritime heritage were incorporated in the final document – soon to be put before the Minister. If this plan is adopted then the task of implementing the plan will be determined by the Minister. We trust that Melbourne’s maritime heritage will feature in all strategic policy documents on waterways in the future.
16. Heritage Anecdotes – an invitation
MMHN is grateful to receive any such information maritime enthusiasts care to share – it’s important to be lost. Email: email@example.com
17. Electric and Flying Ferries – not so far away
Drawing on the concepts for the wing-in-ground effect vehicle (WIG) advanced by Soviet and German engineers in the 1960s, a Boston-based start-up REGENT (Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport) is developing a modern, all-electric, WIG that could become a zero-emission flying ferry according to Brittany Ferries. REGENT expects the first commercial passengers to travel on smaller electric craft by 2025. Brittany Ferries has signed a Letter of Intent with REGENT to explore the potential for using electric ‘seagliders’ to transport passengers between the UK and France. See
The seagliders operate using the concept of ground effect, where high-pressure air is trapped between the wings of the craft and the ground or water while it is flying at low altitude. Following departure from port, the craft rises on foils and takes off in open waters, riding on the air cushion until it reaches its destination. Wing-mounted propellers provide the necessary thrust for the seagliders to take to the air at low speeds, while electric motors regulate air flow over wings when they are riding on the air cushion. Seagliders are expected to be able to fly from existing ferry ports at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour, with a battery-powered range of 180 miles. This would reduce the time for a journey between Portsmouth, UK and Cherbourg, France to as little as 40 minutes. Brittany Ferries plan to introduce seagliders with 50-150 passengers sailing between the UK and France by 2028. REGENT currently expects the first commercial passengers to travel on smaller electric craft by 2025.
18. Propulsion News – Reusable Steel waste
Off-season maintenance continues as the images below show. Significant maintenance works rely upon skills and knowledge taught by the Enterprize ships’ engineer to enable the volunteers to do this crucial work. This skillset involves using traditional methods and materials from the 1800s. The major task underway commenced prior to Lockdown 5, making and installing new shrouds (standing rigging) located on each side of the mast to hold steady. Attached to the shrouds are ratlines (pronounced ‘rattlins’) which are lengths of thin ‘line’ tied between the shrouds of sailing ships to form ladders. Currently sails, all running rigging, the yards, booms and gaffs have all been removed from the ship. So too has the top mast along with the standing rigging, the shrouds and ratlines of the foremast in preparation for the replacement of the foremast shrouds and completion of the new foremast rigging. New replacement shrouds have been made in the boatshed on Collins Wharf. Ten metre lengths of hemp rope for each new shroud have been reinforced by the traditional method of worming, parceling and serving the rope – each layer being treated with Stockholm tar. All running rigging once removed from the ship is inspected, where required repaired, and dipped through hot Stockholm tar. The booms, yards and gaffs as well as the fore topmast have all been cleaned and treated with spar tar. All of this is essential maintenance on Enterpize as it was on ALL sailing ships.
Michael Womack, General Manager of the Enterprize invites anyone interested to contact him. The Enterprize is always looking for people to join the volunteer crew for both ship operations and maintenance tasks. No prior knowledge is required and Enterprize offers its volunteers a comprehensive training program – a new program is starting soon.
An E-petition campaign is underweigh to persuade the state government to rescue this decommissioned Australian RAN Oberon class submarine – and itsurgent: Emergency direction: Keep your distance from listing submarine ex-HMAS Otama Mariners are advised that the Ex-HMAS OTAMA (Oberon class submarine) approximately 800 metres north of Crib Point refinery jetty in Western Port has listed significantly and has the risk of capsizing or possibly sinking imminently. You can access and sign the E-petition on: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/373
Organisers fear Parks Victoria and the Port of Hastings will take the vessel away for scrap. The hope is that the vessel will be brought ashore, stabilized and made open to the public. A supporter writes: I do recall many years ago when I was a young lad, open days at Station Pier the whole weekend Navy members, their families, members of the public would line the walkways of the pier to see our nation’s navy ships. The most visited attraction was the Oberon class submarine. There was a distinct air of mystery and undeniable enthusiasm by all to see these sharks of steel that protected our nations shipping lanes from beneath the waves. This is a unique opportunity to have this project and the museum to have pride and place right near The Cradle of the Navy, HMAS Cerberus. It is only fitting that we continue to support this fine group of volunteers and dutifully request our local, state and federal government representatives to give this project its final resting place for which it had been set aside for all these years. Thank you for your hard work thus far members of the Victorian Maritime Centre, Western Port Oberon Association.
20. Williamstown Dreaming – can we make this happen?
In 2019, the [Sydney] Harbour Trust spoke to the community and other stakeholders about the future of this important place. We heard that people value its many layers and stories but would like to see its untapped potential realised. Informed by this feedback, we released a Draft Concept Vision that seeks to honour the layers of cultural, natural and historical importance that make up the past and present of this place. Here is the Vision https://haveyoursay.awe.gov.au/cockatoo-island-draft-concept-vision
Should this vision be an inspiration encouraging stakeholders to demand more of our state government in relation to the re-development Williamstown? Certainly the ‘bones’, or should we say ‘steel girders’, of a major maritime industrial complex remain in Williamstown today. There is unquestionably great potential for an ambitious transformation project.
Until next month,
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Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network
The membership form is available on https://mmhn.org.au/