Plenty of contentious matters to consider.

MMHN has often castigated the governments over time for displaying persistent ‘amnesia’ and an absence of a ‘Vision’ on maritime infrastructure, maritime heritage assets, seafaring skills, shipbuilding, wharves, registered ships etc. In our island nation the policy approach to maritime matters appears to have been found wanting. Regrettably there are several items in MMHN Update referring to our collective maritime woes. Commencing with an event on the topical matter of Energy.


1. Invitation: Bass Strait Energy – Old and New: Panel discussion
2. Antarctica – Australian Ambivalence and China
3. US Antarctic Statement – Lessons for Australia
4. Next-Gen Submarine Tech – PsiQuantum – Maritime value
5. Heritage Yachting in Victoria – Clubs
6. P&O stands for “Peninsular & Oriental”
7. Sandridge
8. Re-Shaping the Yarra 1850s to 1973
9. SeaToSource Plastic Waste Challenge – Parks Victoria
10. Water Pollution – Parks Victoria (PV) and Melbourne Water (MW)
11. Royal Society of Victoria (RSV)
12. The Alma Doepel – Marvellous Milestone News
13. Cerberus News – Cerberus Replica Turret
14. Australian Defence Strategic Review – Indo-Pacific Region
15. Victorian Coastal Marine Issues
16. Marine Traffic Map of the Pacific
17. Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)
18. Red Sea Conflict – affecting 65 countries and 29 Shipping Lines
19. Wharves matter – a lot: Hobart – Australian Antarctic Program
20. Questionable Maritime Tourism Investment – Twelve Apostles Precinct
21. Piers Really Matter – Elsewhere
22. Williamstown Shipyards
23. Alfred Graving Dock
24. Regatta on the Birrarung/Yarra
25. Australian Maritime Museums Council
26. National Maritime Museum – Ireland


1. Invitation: Bass Strait Energy – Old and New: Panel discussion

MMHN/OSSA will bring together a expert panel: Industry, Research and Government to discuss maritime and land-side consequences of Bass Strait maritime industries. Panel representation will include: Star of the South (SoutherlyTen), Ministry of Energy & Resources, CBRE Group, University of Melbourne and Esso Australia.

MMHN recommends you consider pre-reading:
The Conversation – Australia Needs Large Scale Energy Production and
Star of the South – Southerly Ten Charts Course for Offshore Wind

When:  Tuesday, 23rd July at 6pm
Where: CBRE Group office, Level 34 No. 8 Exhibition St, Melbourne

Please RSVP to by Friday 12th July for catering purposes.


2. Antarctica – Australian Ambivalence and China

First a reminder that the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 by the twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica. May it ever continue : “Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only”  See:

The fact the Antarctic Treaty System has not fallen apart yet is not indicative of its success. In fact, there is evidence that it is weakening,
Elizabeth Buchanan writes in ASPI (14/6 2024):

“Australia’s vital interests, including the defence of Australian sovereign territory [in Antarctica] are at stake, but everyone appears happy to pass the problem on to the next government. Canberra has a national interest in Antarctica—a claim to 42 per cent of the frozen continent. Yet successive Australian governments have overlooked Antarctica. We’ve even launched a National Defence Strategy that makes no reference to our sovereign Antarctic territory. China is serious about Antarctica. Australia should be too” Real-time testing of the rules-based order is under way in Antarctica. Earlier this month, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting quietly wrapped in India. No consensus was achieved for new environmental protection zones, or the addition of new voting parties. For the first time since 2022, no reference was made to the Russia-Ukraine war in the meeting communique. The Antarctic Treaty System is in limbo. It fails to reach consensus on practically everything it was crafted to do. Yet the system shows no indication of imminent collapse. The treaty remains intact because it facilitates strategic competition. The maintenance of this treaty system speaks more to its agility to deliver on a vast array of national interests—for a vast array of actors. States such as Australia, the US, Russia, Ukraine and China are all seated at the same table as equals in Antarctica. Australia’s vital interests, including the defence of Australian sovereign territory, are at stake, but everyone appears happy to pass the problem on to the next government. Canberra has a national interest in Antarctica—a claim to 42 per cent of the frozen continent. Yet successive Australian governments have overlooked Antarctica. We’ve even launched a National Defence Strategy that makes no reference to our sovereign Antarctic territory”.

See: ASPI: The Strategist – China is serious about Antarctica


3. US Antarctic Statement – Lessons for Australia

Perhaps inevitably Antarctica will became (or is already) a ‘contested’ resource. Tony Press writes hopefully (Interpreter May 22,2024):
“Different views of sovereignty on the continent [Antarctica ] shouldn’t obscure the many shared goals”. US President Joe Biden has used the occasion of this year’s Antarctic Treaty consultative meeting to release a new high-level policy statement on Antarctica. The “National Security Memorandum nSM-23” revises and replaces the version issued by Bill Clinton in 1994 . Much has happened in the Antarctic in the 30 years since, accelerating climate change not the least, along with significant geopolitical shifts, through the rise of China and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine (a fellow Antarctic Treaty party). A cursory glance would indicate that the new US memorandum reflects a “steady as it goes” approach, but there are important messages in the statement outlining US thinking on the geopolitical and environmental future of the region – and many of these that are directly relevant to Australia’s Antarctic interests.” 

See: Lowy Institute – Biden’s new Antarctic Statement

Image: US National Science Foundation Ken Keenan Palmer Station


4. Next-Gen Submarine Tech – PsiQuantum -Maritime value

Media reported this month that Australia signs deal worth almost $1b with company PsiQuantum to build world’s first ‘useful’ quantum computer. PsiQuantum will attempt to build the world’s first large “fault-tolerant” quantum computer, free from the errors and instabilities that render other quantum computers impractical. This ‘fault tolerant capability ‘would be the world’s first “useful” quantum computer, capable of being used in industry, research and defence without significant errors. This is where maritime application kicks in, Modern ships and planes and their high-tech weaponry are, according to journalist Tom Burton (AFR 23/5/2024) heavily reliant on satellite GPS. Defence planners have long worried how vulnerable military information systems are to GPS being taken out by an adversary. Hence the $1b investment in the company PsiQuantum in Australia. navigation and sensor technologies were part of an early suite of quantum capabilities that will emerge well before large scale quantum computing. The sensor tech is where Australia has a real strategic interest. The US and its allies have long had remote-sensing underwater drones in various strategic hotspots in the world’s oceans, including the western Pacific and the highly contested South China Sea. These UUVs are slow-moving compared with modern subs, so they can be evaded relatively easily. Quantum sensors, highly sensitive to any noise, offer a major lift in surveillance capability. AI algorithms are already helping to sift through the noise to find the signals submariners are looking for. But this will need to be taken to a new level to sort out the enormous data quantum sensors throw off. Clearly, in the event of conflict in the Indo-Pacific, Australia will need to have mature quantum infrastructure located on its own soil. This helps explain why the promised large-scale, error-free quantum computer is to be located in Brisbane.

See: Australian Financial Review – Missing piece to explain PsiQuantum deal


5. Heritage Yachting in Victoria – Clubs

Much maritime heritage significance attaches to the actual premises of historic yacht clubs. Where government, urban planning, property development and significant maritime heritage infrastructure, refurbishment and renewal collide, then the outcome is likely to be highly contested. It is clear that heritage significance, continuity of purpose, function as well as form, are key considerations in relation to premises. 

MMHN thanks Southern Woodenboats Sailing providing an in-depth account of what has been happening in relation to the renovation planning processes at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Club. The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron is a yacht club located at St Kilda Beach in the suburb of St Kilda in Melbourne. The squadron was founded in 1876. which is “significant for its association with the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, a 114year old institution in St Kilda.” MMHN notes that “Buildings can be cited as significant for architectural, historical, or cultural reasons. In this case, the significance of the RMYS building is specifically associated with its historical use”.

Mark Chew writes“There are three big sailing clubs at the top of Port Phillip Bay, all active for some 150 years. They also have pretty good buildings. Hobsons Bay YC was rebuilt after a fire in the 1950’s. It’s a stylish ‘Moderne’ frontage of curved cream brick with a skilful contemporary addition behind. Around the corner in Williamstown, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria is a 1970’s brick & beam period home built after another ‘red bull’ destroyed the old timber clubhouse. The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) on the St Kilda side, is a fine 1920’s Arts & Crafts confection in the Catani Gardens. From time to time these buildings need refurbishment to better serve purpose and hold back deterioration from ocean front sites. The Royal St Kilda YC building we know today was opened in 1926. This subsumed an earlier two storey timber building from 1905. Additions and alterations of ordinary design quality have been ongoing through the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. St Kilda residents are an active community and love the old Arts & Crafts building. It stands at the end of Fitzroy Street in the Catani Gardens fronting the foreshore. It’s a period companion to Walter Butler’s Mission to Seafarers in Flinders St from 1916-19. This has similar bits-n-pieces merging Arts & Crafts and Spanish Mission styles. They are often described as having ‘nautical flavour’, but this is really about occupation and use rather than the design itself. Perhaps the prow windows and roof deck at St Kilda {yacht Club} are like a cruise liner.”

For more of an in-depth discussion on the wrangle, MMHN recommends you see: Southern Woodenboat Sailing – Mahogony Box

Image: RMYS design 2021. Brushed stainless steel rooftop pavilion.

Image: Southern Woodenboat Sailing Pinnace from HMS Renown delivers the Duke of York to St Kilda Pier in 1927.


6. P&O stands for “Peninsular & Oriental”

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, abbreviated to P&O Line, to many of us felt like a ‘fixture’ in Australian maritime consciousness – until now.

After 90 years Carnival Cruises Lines which operated P&O will ‘sunset’ early in 2025. P&O cruises with vessels: Pacific ExplorerPacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure will be integrated into other Carnival Cruises.

A long list of P&O vessels have sailed through the Heads. Founded in 1837, the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) first offered voyages known as ‘excursions,’ when passengers from England travelled with the Royal Mails to ports on the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean, returning home on other P&O mail voyages. The company really began in 1815 when Brodie McGhie Wilcox opened a ship-broking firm in Lime Street, London. After partnering with a former seaman, Arthur Anderson, the company called Wilcox and Anderson began trading with a small fleet of sailing ships between England and the Iberian Peninsula countries of Spain and Portugal. Wilcox and Anderson prospered and worked hard to secure return cargoes. The two countries allowed the firm to combine their colours – the blue and white of Portugal and the red and yellow of Spain, to form the company flag. This flag would become synonymous with passenger shipping services and cruises from England to the East and Australia. The P&O House Flag dates bears the colours of the royal families of Portugal (blue and white) and Spain (red and gold). This royal seal of approval was granted to P&O’s founders, Brodie McGhie Willcox and Arthur Anderson, following their support for the legitimist causes in the Civil Wars in Portugal and Spain in the early 1830’s. Cruising changed in the 1980s.

See: P&O Cruises History


7. Sandridge

The name Sandridge is potent in maritime heritage. MMHN thanks Port Places from an evocative illustrated timeline 1930 – 1990.


Image: The steps at Sandridge, Rose Series, State Library of Victoria


8. Re-Shaping the Yarra 1850s to 1973

MMHN congratulates Sebastian Gurciullo, professional archivist, curator, editor and writer for his recent work drawing on material from the Victorian Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) and the University of Melbourne Archives. A fascinating ,most thorough and informative deep-dive into form of the Birrarung/Yarra we see today and what might have been! Sebastian writes:
“Government archives, like those held at Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), provide documentary sources that allow us to visualise changes to natural and built environments over time. Using maps and plans from PROV’s collection, this article explores plans and decisions associated with the Yarra River and the developing Port of Melbourne from the 1850s to 1973. The article explores changes to the course of the river and the surrounding area, as well as proposals for changes that were never implemented.”

MMHN reflects in relation to Docklands Precinct today, the absence of imagination or Vision, no proposal to rescue this massive yet languishing State investment should be ignored as “too fanciful or because circumstances changed, rendering them unfeasible, undesirable or otherwise invalid”.

MMHN highly recommends a close read of this excellent account:
PROV Provenance Journal 2023-24 – Reshaping the Yarra

Image: PROV Plan for the port area and surrounds from the 1929 ‘Plan of general development’, PROV, VPRS 10284/P0 Reports, Report 1929 Volume (unit 3A)


9. SeaToSource Plastic Waste Challenge – Parks Victoria

Be warned – the sheer volume is a shock. MMHN is not sure if the Birrarung/Yarra Yarra output is included but an estimated 1000 rivers globally are responsible for nearly 80% of global annual riverine plastic emissions. constributing to circa 13 million tons of plastic ending up in the ocean we share,. It’s estimated that there are about 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, which breaks down into microplastics, forms giant plastic patches in the ocean, sinks to the ocean floor, and washes up along the coast. The adverse impact on marine species and ecosystems, food safety, human health, tourism, fisheries, aquaculture, etc is irrefutable. Australia consumes 3.8 million tonnes of plastic annually, a figure three times the global average. Clearly action from us all is required. MMHN recommends maritime stakeholders wherever they are, establish collection plans to capture nearby waterway.


You may also wish to take part in SeaToSource Plastic Waste Challenge, a program over two weeks to systematically analyzing your household waste. See: &
Conservation Volunteers – SeaToSource Plastic Waste Challenge


10. Water Pollution – Parks Victoria (PV) and Melbourne Water (MW)

In the previous MMHN Updates, MHHN repeatedly raised the deficient approach by Parks Victoria relation to litter traps left lingering in the Birraqrung/Yarra full of degenerating plastic litter being left to degrade/disintegrate PV responded to our complaint with the bizarre notion of public education. They had initially collected the litter, then deliberately left on the CBD river banks as a public deterrent!

MMHN notes similar deficiencies waterways litter mismanagement elsewhere in Victoria. The Elwood Canal Action Team (ECAT) constantly retrieves waste from the concrete channel canal section of the creek before it reaches Port Phillip Bay. The volume of litter flushing into Port Phillip Bay is no mere trickle. In fact it Melbourne Water (MW) is the responsible State authority managing 40 square kilometre upstream catchment area. The solution is not rocket science. ECAT are calling for MW to simply install a purpose-built end-of-line litter trap to catch waste before it enters the bay. MW inexplicably refuses to act. MW Why? Their answer beggars belief. “Litter traps, bubble barriers, nets — all of them have limitations or other consequences such as the risk to wildlife that use the canal or risk of exacerbating the flood risk,” So no action. PV and MW are united in adopting this “behavioural change” response aka “litter is not our problem” approach. MW steps even further away from the problem. It claims “litter is a behavioural issue so we even will need to address people’s behaviour if we want to stop it and have a long-term effect.” Ah well – that should do the trick then ? Or not? Perhaps PV and MW could have a look at more sophisticated approaches which actually work now.

See: &
ABC News – Elster Creek Melbourne Water Litter

Images: ABC Elwood Canal Action Team (ECAT)


11. Royal Society of Victoria (RSV)

MMHN congratulates RSV on its 170th Anniversary. We are delighted to be as Associate member of the RSV which has been promoting and advancing science in Victoria as a collective of research scholars, educators, policy leaders, innovators and change makers. It’s the blink of an eye in the long history of human activity in SE Australia, but in terms of the much shorter history of the Colony/State of Victoria. Committed as we are to the wisdom of a ‘network ‘approach, functioning productively over the past 170 years is remarkable effort! Formerly the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science (founded 15 June, 1854) the RSV continues its engagement with unique nature of Victoria’s landscapes, plants and animals through sharing and exploring expertise in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). Matters maritime obviously intersect with all such areas of research. The Royal Society of Victoria’s historic headquarters, designed by Joseph Reed, purpose-built in 1859.


12. The Alma Doepel – Marvellous Milestone News

Hearty congratulations all around. After has been 15 long years to get to this point when the Alma’s masts once again sit over her elegant form in Victoria Harbour, Docklands. A milestone was reached on May 5th – masts were raised once again. In keeping with tradition, the team at Alma Doepel placed a 1903 penny under the main mast saying following words may this coin maintain among us cheerfulness and a good ship’s spirit in all we do both ashore and afloat. Grant us fair weather in all our voyages and always bring us safely to port”.

A reminder that the project to restore the Alma Doepel is a $5.5m project, and to-date, over the last 15 years, we have raised more than $4.3 million through the support of diverse group from individuals, corporates and philanthropic trusts donors. Chairman Matt McDonald said recently “We now put a stake in the ground to commit to recommencing our commercial operations by the beginning of 2026. Matt reminds heritage enthusiasts much as the restoration of the Alma is a delight in itself – it will also profoundly influence the lives of all young people who said on her in Sail and Adventure Voyages ahead.

See: now/
& Sponsorship Prospectus may be found:

Image: Alma Doepel Team


13. Cerberus News – Cerberus Replica Turret

Due to the expansion of the general collection at Seaworks, the Cerberus Replica Turret is looking for a new home. Interested people may follow up this offer by emailing:

The rest of the Cerberus collection is to remain at Seaworks including the most impressive of these is one of the Engine Order Telegraphs from Cerberus. Known as the Chadburn type of telegraph, the Engine Order Telegraph which was only invented after Cerberus had been completed. First sold in 1875, the telegraph below was fitted to Cerberus in 1883 when the original square box boilers were replaced with locally built cylindrical Scotch Boilers. A line in the invoice for the new boilers reads “Fitting Engine room Telegraph gear, £79.9.2“. Located in the Engine Room, this telegraph like telegraphs on the flying deck were of the flat type. What type of telegraphs were fitted in the conning tower is not known.

Images: The three photos above show one of the two Engine Room telegraphs on board Cerberus from 1883 onwards.


14. Australian Defence Strategic Review – Indo-Pacific Region

MMHN thanks RUSI Victoria for alerting us to a presentation by Adam Lockyer, Associate Professor of Strategic Studies, Macquarie University for Lowy Institute on the Australian Defence Strategic Review (DSR) which focuses on the broader geopolitical trends in the and how it supports the United States’ strategy vis-a-vis China. “Australian defence strategy has historically been on the premise that Australia’s security is best ensured by the presence of a reliable, established, and powerful ally, which involved sending our defence forces for overseas wars and conflicts (forward defence); and the traditional defence approach to defend the nation’s borders and their approaches” (Defence of Australia). The author opines that the DSR addresses both concepts.

Within this geopolitical context, Australian defence strategy begins to converge on one focal point. Australian defence strategy has historically been torn between two forces. The first, is that Australia’s security is best ensured by the presence of a great and powerful friend. That is, as long as Britain and, later, the United States ruled the waves through the Indo-Pacific region, then Australia’s security was assured. This realisation has been at the foundation of Australia’s defence strategy stretching back even before federation.


Image: Site of the RUSI Library is within Victoria Barracks


15. Victorian Coastal Marine Issues

The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) produces a great deal of information which describes DEECA ‘actions’ as “reforms’ which is puzzling and not strictly accurate. MMHN encourages you to decide for yourself for yourself. DEECA is spending $1 million across 8 local councils and land managers to ‘progress planning’ action (note not implementing action’) to address the impact of climate change on coastal areas – ecological, cultural, community social and economic value of an area to inform coastal hazard adaptation planning for the area. These DDECA grants are part of Victoria’s Resilient Coast – Adapting for 2100+ Program now in its 3rd. year with the intent to provide a strategic approach to coastal hazard risk management and adaptation. Grants total of $2.8 million over 25 projects underway across the State.

MMHN suggest you the 2021-2022 Annual Report and Delivery Plan on

There are designated Coastcare Victoria Officers for Port PhillipWesternport Officer and Barwon South West Officer.

To access the newsletter regularly see:
DEECA Marine and Coasts newsletter

Image: Spatial extent of Port Phillip Bay Western Shoreline Regional and Strategic Partnership with place names


16. Marine Traffic Map of the Pacific

By way of inspiration? MMHN thanks MMHN member Mark Chew for so aptly describing a look at the Marine Traffic map of the Pacificat this time of year, you will see a scruffy line of (purple) cruising boats making their way across the Ocean, like a procession of ants across the kitchen bench towards a puddle of spilt honey. It’s great that sailors with the resources, a modicum of curiosity and a working GPS can now safely cross oceans, but surely this herd mentality, is what they were trying to escape when they bought their fine vessels in the first place?

See: Marine Traffic map of the Pacific

Image: Screenshot from Marine Traffic Map website


17. Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)

Several recent studies have raised real-world alarms that a crucial ocean current that circulates heat to northern countries might shut down this century, with potentially disastrous consequences.

That scenario has happened in the past, most recently more than 16,000 years ago. However, it relies on Greenland shedding a lot of ice into the ocean. In late July, a study published in Nature Communications warned that a critical ocean system that brings warm water up the North Atlantic, also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), was at risk of collapse by 2095 for want of drastic emissions cuts. While AMOC was already known to be at its slowest in 1600 years, the latest research ushers in a much closer time estimation for a collapse between 2025 and 2095, with a central estimate of 2057. If proven correct, this scenario could see temperatures drop by 5 to 10 degrees in Europe, with devastating consequences for life as we know it. New research, published in the journal Science, suggests that while Greenland is indeed losing huge and worrisome volumes of ice right now, that might not continue for long enough to shut down the current on its own

The timing and implications of an AMOC tipping point are contested.

See: The Conversation – Collapse of the Atlantic Ocean Circulation


18. Red Sea Conflict – affecting 65 countries and 29 Shipping Lines

Attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi group in the Red Sea have affected the interests of 65 countries and 29 major energy and shipping firms, according to a new report issued by the US Defense Intelligence Agency today.

The Yemen-based group publicly has said it is targeting Israel-linked ships in response to Jerusalem’s strikes in Gaza, but the report says, “many of their attacks […] have been against civilian ships with either tenuous or no known Israeli affiliations or port calls.” The report says dozens of countries have been caught in the crossfire, including the United States, Britain, Turkey, Russia, China, Qatar and the Houthis main purported benefactor, Iran. Since 2023, the group has used missile, drone and even unmanned surface vessels to attack commercial shipping in the vital Middle Eastern shipping lane DIA reports “Houthi actions have damaged regional security, impeded international humanitarian relief efforts, and put stress on global maritime trade”.

See: Breaking Defense – 65 Countries affected by attacks in Red Sea

Image: A table in a DIA report on June 13, 2024 about Houthi attacks in the Red Sea


19. Wharves matter – a lot: Hobart – Australian Antarctic Program

More evidence of Australia’s apparent inability to grasp the critical importance of maritime infrastructure. Antarctic reporter Jano Gibson ABC 19/6) reports: 

WA signals interest in Antarctic program amid funding dispute over RSV Nuyina’s wharf in Hobart” The WA Ports Minister says his government is open to discussions with the federal government over the future of the Australian Antarctic Program. It comes after the federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek warned Hobart’s status as an Antarctic gateway was at risk because of a contract dispute over upgrades to the ship’s home port. Tasmania’s Premier Jeremy Rockliff is to meet with Minister Plibersek expecting her to “put aside the politics” and for federal Labor to “be true to their word in ensuring Hobart remains the Antarctic gateway”. The Commonwealth recently signed a long-term lease keep the Australian Antarctic Division located at its headquarters in Kingston, south of Hobart .Concerns have been raised about the “exorbitant cost” of redeveloping aging facilities at Macquarie Wharf 6, where the ship docks. The state-owned company TasPorts estimated the wharf upgrades would amount to $515 million over 30 years — 14 times the current cost paid by the Commonwealth to berth the Nuyuna there. The Port of Fremantle in WA has long been touted as a potential alternative base for the Australia’s Antarctic operations. Antarctic constitutes ‘big business’ for Tasmania The Antarctic program employs around 1,000 people in Tasmania and is estimated to boost the state’s economy by about $180 million per year. The Tasmanian Polar Network has 70 members in research, transport, logistics and tourism”.

See: ABC News – WA signals interest in being Antarctic ship home port

Image: ABC website – RSV Nuyuna off Tasmania


20. Questionable Maritime Tourism Investment – Twelve Apostles Precinct Redevelopment

MMHN has noted that Parks Victoria, despite having responsibility maritime infrastructure around the coast tends to prioritise upkeep of land-based recreation assets. Given the acute degeneration of so much maritime infrastructure in Victoria, does the State government and Parks Victoria (PV) in particular really need to re-think investment priorities.

For example, the Twelve Apostles Precinct Redevelopment – the consultation phase is completed and the State Govt. is now about to tendering for builders as the Twelve Apostles Precinct Redevelopment project as part of the re-vitalised Geelong City Deal. A Federal and State government collaboration project absorbing a further State Govt $18 million to upgrade the visitor, a further $24.5 million to support local sustainable tourism , a new Lookouts at the Blowhole and Loch Ard Gorge a pedestrian bridge at Port Campbell Creek.

See: The Urban Developer – Twelve Apostles Precinct Redevelopment

Image: Urban Developer, A render of the inside of the new centre at the Twelve Apostles Precinct in regional Victoria


21. Piers Really Matter – Elsewhere

Given the shabby state of Station Pier, the ghost of Princes Pier and  demise of Central Pier, MMHN is inspired by London  and Hamburg acknowledging that waterways create economic uplift   as exemplified in a proposal afoot in unveiling PPPs engagement with to create from piers.

Two central London piers could be transformed into “destination” tourist attractions under plans being explored Central London piers earmarked for ‘state-of-the-art’ redevelopment by Transport for London (TfL) plans  Festival Pier by the South Bank Centre and Greenwich Pier near the Cutty Sark have been earmarked for potential transformation, with officials hoping the “dated” piers could be turned into money-makers while still serving boats. Journalist Josh Salisbury writes (24/5,2024) inspired by Hamburg’s famous riverside. Currently, both passenger piers operate at a net cost to govt. but under the proposals, private companies would enter into a partnership with govt. to redevelop the piers, turning under-used pontoon space into retail or themed experiences. Partly inspired by Hamburg’s Landungsbrücken, a tourist attraction on the River Elbe with a floating promenade featuring gift shops and restaurants. Some of our piers are in need of modernisation and we want to reimagine these spaces with private investment to be state-of-the-art passenger spaces, with interesting new brand partnerships We are looking to enhance the long-term future of our piers, maximise capacity and investigate ways to generate revenue to reinvest into our transport network, including river services. 

See: Standard UK – Greenwich Pier Festival Redevelopment

Image: Standard – Festival Dock waiting room


22. Williamstown Shipyards

MMHN fears the worst – once again.

Who knows what will become of this unique maritime infrastructure precinct? Will the cash-strapped State government have the vision or the capacity to somehow ensure that this significant maritime heritage precinct is not lost to the public. Williamstown ship yard, is the last of its kind in Victoria.T he owner, BAE Systems, is selling the precinct sale 8 years after the last vessel plunged down the slipway and ship-building ceased. Given that the federal shipbuilding business is being directed elsewhere interstate, it is not surprising that BAE cannot simply hold on such maritime infrastructure assets. The sad trajectory for the Williamtown Shipyards was set in train in 2017 when the Coalition federal government of the day adopted political policy approach to sustainiing maritime capability for our island nation, The ABC reported (16/5 2017) that the Williamstown shipyard been “left on the brink of closure having been being snubbed in the Federal Government’s new naval shipbuilding plan. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today released Australia’s largest shipbuilding and sustainment program, including more than $1 billion worth of infrastructure upgrades at the Osborne shipyards in SA and at the Henderson shipyards in WA . Noting that “The plan acknowledges South Australia will struggle to provide the thousands of skilled workers needed for the massive expansion of the Navy’s fleet, with foreign workers and interstate talent needed to meet” .

MMHN has consistently castigated the Federal government for its lack of strategic vision in relation to maritime skills, shipbuilding, wharves, registered ships, etc. Such a political policy approach to investment in maritime capability in our island nation is obviously a serious concern.

See: SMH – Williamstown Shipyard hits the slipway

Image: Williamstown Shipyard, SMH


23. Alfred Graving Dock

The heritage listed Alfred Graving Dock is a key element in the Williamstown shipyards precinct. Constructed between1864 and 1873 for the Victorian Government at a cost exceeding £300,000. It has been in continual use for ship repair since 1874. It was a globally important facility for the Southern Ocean. In 1918 the Commonwealth purchased the site and in 1924 the Melbourne Harbor Trust (MHT) purchased the dockyard. After the outbreak of World War II the MHT used the dockyards for the conversion of merchant vessels and trawlers for war purposes and the construction of naval vessels. Requisitioned in 1942 by the Royal Australian Navy it was then sold to a private company in 1988 bought by BAE Systems in 2009. Despite major alterations to the wider dockyard area, the Alfred Graving Dock itself remains substantially intact. It is an excavated pit, approximately 126 metres in length and 30 metres wide lined with closely interlocking basalt blocks, measuring a metre cubed. It. A floating caisson or dock gate is located at the seaward end of the dock. There are capstans at the land  and seaward  end of the Dock. In 1987,188 basalt blocks ranging in size from 50x30x70cm to 200x30x70cm were removed from the base of the dock and mortared together to form a patio at the north of Nelson Place. MMHN recommends that you take any opportunity you can to see it is a wondrous maritime infrastructure asset.


Images: Government Graving Dock, 10 June 1878, State Library of Victoria alongside a more recent photo of the dock from the Victorian Heritage Database.


24. Regatta on the Birrarung/Yarra

MMHN congratulates the East Melbourne Historical Society for hosting a excellent event celebrating the iconic status of the Birrarung/Yarra River. Presented Ian Penrose who became the first Yarra Riverkeeper in 2006 leading the community’s campaign to improve the wellbeing and appreciation of Melbourne’s special waterway. The waterway, of course, was the very reason City of Melbourne exists at all. Fresh water drew indigenous people to banks and abundant food was to be found in its billabongs and swamps provide abundant. It also attracted and enabled colonial settlement. Later wharves and goods sheds supported the maritime trade upon which Victoria’s prosperity was based.

It was also fun!

Image: Henley on Yarra, c.1908, Postcard, State Library Victoria


25. Australian Maritime Museums Council

MMHN Board member Martin Dixon recently attended the Australian Maritime Museums Council workshop in Sydney. Martin presented a session on the role, successful and current initiatives of MMHN. He toured ANMM and some of the vessels berthed nearby. Important topics were presented and discussed by the delegates from all states and the Northern Territory including: ship restoration, funding models and ideas, different models of operation, advocacy and networking the forthcoming the International Conference of Maritime Museums (ICMM). The ICMM session mainly concerned the new Global Histories Program funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a potentially substantial funding source for our sector.

  • For those of you who have responded to the MMHN invitation to the CEO of ANMM to meet maritime stakeholders in Victoria. 5 pm. RHSV, we look forward to any comments you care to share with us.
    Email info@mmhn,
  • A reminder that the ICMM has accepted the MMHN paper to be presented at Rotterdam 2024.


26. National Maritime Museum – Ireland

MMHN is always delighted to share recommendations with maritime enthusiasts as then travel. MMHN Board member Michael O’Brien recently visited Ireland and writes:“Ireland’s National Maritime Museum is housed in Dun Laoghaire’s 180-year-old Mariner’s Church. The museum’s greatest artefact is probably the building itself, one of a few custom-built places of worship for seafarers remaining intact in the world today. (See note below) One permanent exhibit with special Australian links relates to RMS Leinster. On October 10th 1918, the passenger and mail steamship of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, was on her way from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead. A 6 months old German submarine UB 123 fired 3 torpedoes just before 10 am near Kish bank lightship. The first torpedo missed and as the second torpedo hit, the captain tried to manoeuvre the ship to return to Kingstown. The third torpedo impact was so severe that the ship was cut in half.

At the latest count, 567 of the 806 passengers and crew perished as a result of the sinking. There were military personnel from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA in addition to many British troops and civilians. A team of Post Office worker sorting the mail en route perished almost entirely. Seven Australian and three New Zealand soldiers perished – they are buried together in a Dublin cemetery.

This wartime maritime disaster caused more deaths than the well-known Easter Rising and must be placed at the top of the list of significant events in Irish history. Within 10 days after the attack on RMS Leinster, the U boat was lost to a mine with all 36 crew, all in their twenties.”


Closer to home perhaps – The Mission to Seafarers Chapel between Flinders Street and the Birrarung/Yarra Melbourne is another rare seafarers church to visit.

Images: The church was built in 1837 for seafarers and remained open until 1971. In 1974 the Mariner’s Church became the Maritime Institute of Ireland. Source: Wikipedia.


Until next time,

Dr Jackie Watts OAM
Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network