VICTORIA’S MARITIME HERITAGE ASSETS
HERITAGE SITES, PIERS, WHARVES AND SHEDS
Station Pier – within the City of Port Phillip
Managed by the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) (VPCM) in the municipality of Port Phillip. Cruise ships numbers visiting Melbourne are increasing and enhancing the passenger experience on Station Pier. The ferry to Tasmania leaves from this neglected ‘gateway’ to Melbourne. Station Pier replaced an earlier pier in the 1920’s is clearly an important maritime infrastructure asset, a crucial public asset, both currently and historically.
It is integral to the Maritime Heritage Precincts Network. The neglect of Station Pier over decades exemplifies the ‘deficit’ mindset in relation to maritime heritage. Given that so many migrants arrived on this Pier and so many soldiers departed from it is a concern that its significance is undervalued. There is a paucity of informational signage about its past to inform the many visitors passing through this less than impressive structure which is the ‘gateway’ to Melbourne. As a modern terminal it compares poorly with facilities provided in the International Terminal in Sydney. This may change. The State government has funded a feasibility study on the re-development of the pier. Community in-put is sought.
Princes Pier – within the City of Port Philip
Managed by the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) (VPCM) in the municipality of Port Phillip, 580 meters long, formerly known as the New Railway Pier.
Restored and modified to allow safe public access. Construction commenced in 1912. Princes Pier closed in 1989 and reopened in 2011 after great investment in restoration of timber pylons and timber port buildings. Extensive rail lines have been left in situ. Remains a magnificent, well-signed yet under-utilised heritage asset of great significance in relation to commerce, union movement, immigration and wartime troop transport, Originally the area was known as Sandridge.
Stakeholders are proposing that the restored ‘Wyuna’ could be eventually be relocated at this pier. Currently used for fishing and sightseeing.
Yarra North Wharf area
See History at Work (3 Reports) August 2018. Commissioned by Riverlee. Melbourne’s first ‘constructed’ wharf precinct. Refers to the work of John Coode, possibly the most prominent harbour engineer of the nineteenth century. Works began around 1841 just below Yarra Falls to construct a government wharf known as Queens Wharf. Unplanned private wharves were constructed further downstream until the Melbourne Harbour Trust was formed in 1877. Trust works later included realigning the Yarra to improve navigability, draining swamps, dredging and widening, designing new docks etc.
The external shape of Goods Shed 5 is protected within the Riverlee development permit, as is the electric crane located adjacent to Seafarers Rest Park. At Enterprize Park there is a large Ships Propeller installed in the park near a car park, and in the river, marking the edge of the re-constructed Turning Basin, there are three large floating buoys. No information on these artefacts is provided at all.
Former Port Control Tower, Collins Wharf, Docklands
Development Victoria is required to both restore and make the tower accessible to the public.
No known tenant or use is yet proposed but Lendlease, who are redeveloping the Collins Wharf, have ideas about its conversion in to a viewing structure of some sort.
Yarra South Wharf area
The National Trust vessel ‘Polly Woodside’ currently floats in the last remaining example of the multiple dry docks, the ‘Duke and Orr’s Dry Dock’, which once lined this section of the Yarra. The mechanical system driving the dock remains but is not displayed in the public realm. There is no informative signage. Commercial goods sheds once lined the bank along this area. A City of Melbourne heritage review is currently being conducted. A plan to establish a serious maritime museum focused on the National Trust vessel the ‘Polly Woodside’ was abandoned.
Further along the southern bank of the Yarra in the Bolte West Precinct the ‘Heritage Shed 21’ has heritage protection and is being re-purposed by Development Victoria.
Duke & Orr’s Dry Dock and machinery (1901-1904)
The last remaining, but significant heritage machinery, is encased in a glass “Pump House’ shed. It is the largest centrifugal pump in the Southern Hemisphere capable of emptying the dock in one hour. Pumps, boilers, engines all remain but are inaccessible.
The informational signage is tucked away in a corner, a location that fails to do justice to this remarkable maritime industrial heritage. It was restored in 2014 by Engineering Heritage and the State Government. It is a relic of a once extensive shipbuilding and repair industry that stretched along the south bank of the Yarra River for 5 kilometres below the Queen Street Bridge.
Note that with the construction of the Spencer Street Bridge, cargo wharves further upstream on the Yarra were rendered obsolete.
Port of Melbourne Heritage Trail
Between 2007 and 2010 the Port of Melbourne Corporation produced an impressive document mapping 12 key areas and sites of significance in the 150 years of port activity in and around Melbourne:
Point Gellibrand, Riverside Park, Spotswood, Stony Creek, Francis St, Whitehall St, Footscray Wharf, Confluence of Rivers, Rotten Row, Westgate Park and Station Pier – all the way along the commercial waterways of Melbourne from Hobson’s Bay to Port Melbourne – earthworks, railways, wharves etc.
Blunts Boat Yard and Slipway, Williamstown
The Blunt family’s private boatbuilding business has been operating in the area since the 1880s. The family began boatbuilding 1858. It still operates Slipways.
The public may request a visit to operational work.
Parks Victoria owns the premises, which are leased to Blunts. The lease is nearing expiry and this presents a threat to the continuation of the boat business.
Flagstaff Gardens, CBD
This CBD Park has maritime significance.
It is named for the flagstaff erected on this relatively high location in 1840, part of a signaling system between the town of Melbourne and ships sailing into port.
For at least 60,000 years Aboriginal people have lived on and around the area known as Port Phillip Bay. The Traditional Owners of this area are the Boonwurrung, Wathaurung and the Woiwurrung language groups of the Eastern Kulin Nation. Not widely known in the public realm, oral history and ample evidence exists of the Eastern Kulin Nation’s connection on and around Port Phillip Bay, its waterways and creeks. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Aboriginal campsites and other places were submerged when the ocean broke through the Heads and flooded the bay. More recently, the City of Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid Heritage Study makes reference to Aboriginal eel traps, fishing, hunting of water fowl, fording places, shell middens, canoe trees and ceremonial sites associated with harvests of marine resources. The largely organic remains of these activities (woven reed baskets, nets, etc.) are rarely preserved, but may survive in underwater sites, which have yet to be found. Colonial works and more recent dredging have reshaped Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra (Birrarung) waterways. This has dramatically impacted Aboriginal people’s ability to maintain their connection to country and cultural practices. Much evidence and knowledge of changes to the bay’s pre-colonial history, both natural and man-made, remain to be discovered.
The Koori Heritage Trust conducts Indigenous tours of the Yarra precinct from Enterprize Park. Enterprize Park commemorates the place the vessel ’Enterprize’ landed 30 August 1835 bringing European settlers from Tasmania to the area. An indigenous art installation the ‘Scar Trees Project’ using original poles Queens Bridge. The work reflects the way in which indigenous clans signaled entry to the land of another community. Such trees are rare today.
The area around Station and Princes Piers on Port Phillip Bay was known to belong to be the land of the Yaluki-Willam peoples who inhabited this area when Europeans arrived. The coast and the river estuary have changed over time.
Note: 2019 Yarra Riverkeepers Association Andrew Kelly recently collaborated with Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the indigenous and geographical story of the river, publishing ‘Wilam: A Birrarung Story’. ‘Wilam’ represents the all rivers that flow through a major city in the world, because all those rivers face the same sort of challenges.
Image: Aboriginal Australians camped in the bush near the Yarra River, [Vic.] by Daintree, Richard, 1832-1878, photographer.
SEAFARERS SERVICE ORGANISATIONS
The Mission to Seafarers (Docklands, Yarra North Wharf)
The Mission was established in 1857, the second after London. It has rendered services to seafarers since that time (one of several hundred such Missions in the world – the Global Patron is Princess Anne and the Victorian Governor is the local Patron.) It has an extensive archival and pictorial collection of state and national significance and a growing collection of artefacts. Managed by a voluntary board, five staff and 30 volunteers it provides continuous services to the 60,000 seafarers that visit the ports of Melbourne annually. The heritage premises are owned by the State Government, which licenses the Mission complex to the Mission to Seafarers to provide services to seafarers as well as manage the major restoration whilst maintaining services. The State Government has committed $2.5 million to preserve the heritage building . A new floor has been installed on the ground level and work is soon to commence on the facade. A Seafarers Heritage Centre has recently been established to display items relating to the Mission and Seafarers.
Chairman: Neil Edwards AM
Vice Chair: Nigel Porteous
Heritage Committee Chairman: Gordon MacMillan
Curator: Jay Miller
Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre (Collins Street, CBD)
The Catholic Mission to Seafarers is one of 353 such centres worldwide. Services are provided in similar numbers to that of the Mission.
Archival holdings are unknown.
Paid staff and volunteers.
A collaborative merger of the two services has been discussed and is progressing.
SPECIALIST SHIPS & RIGS
Offshore and Specialist Ships Australia (OSSA)
A recently registered association currently co-located with Mission to Seafarers. The group has amassed extensive pictorial and documentary archives of large maritime artefacts donated by corporations and authorities in the shipping industry. The OSSA ‘vision’ is to preserve and publicly display maritime history associated with all types of ‘specialist’ ships operating from Australia (e.g. ships servicing oil and gas extraction rigs, sea pilots, Antarctic, reef vigilance, scientific research, police patrol vessels, lighthouse support etc.) OSSA also seek recognition of the important role that Melbourne has played historically as the ‘home port’ for all such specialised shipping. OSSA have a voluntary board and many volunteers.
OSSA are amassing and storing significant numbers of large-scale marine artefacts for use by the City of Melbourne in and around Docklands in due course e.g. Enterprize Park, Seafarers Park, the proposed Maritime Trail from Birrarung Marr, through the CBD to Ron Barassi Senior Park near Bolte Bridge and the proposed park at the end of Collins Wharf.
Port Phillip Sea Pilots Association
The Association was established 17 June 1839 when a licence was granted to George Tobin by Governor Gipps of New South Wales. It has operated in a unique servicing arrangement; originally a revenue source for government but later that revenue flowed to the members.
In 1989 Port Phillip Sea Pilots celebrated their 150th anniversary.
Recent legislation changed licensing. The Association no longer has monopoly status.
Archives and artefacts are held in Melbourne.
The Sea Pilots former base-ship ‘Wyuna’ is now a heritage ship but is too large for berthing at Victoria Harbour.
Durham Association (New Zealand Ship and Marine Society)
Many members served a 4-year Traineeship Program on this extraordinary training vessel, the ‘Durham’ built in 1934 and owned by the Federal Steam Navigation Company. Fifty per cent of the trainees became Marine Engineers and 50% became Deck Officers. In 1939 the vessel was requisitioned by the British Government. Post War it returned to the Federal Steam Navigation Company and continued as a cargo ship.
They all have a strong connection with refrigerated containerized shipping trade between Australia, New Zealand and Europe and to the emergence of containerization. Association members meet n Melbourne.
An informal but active group of former maritime seafarers meet at Mission to Seafarers.
THE HERITAGE FLEET
The Heritage Fleet members formed the Maritime Heritage Association of Victoria. It considers itself a foundational collection of heritage vessels, which currently comprises three heritage vessels (Steam Tug Wattle, Enterprize, and the Alma Doepel). Although the member vessels are managed separately, they are berthed together and an MOU creating a consortium of members was signed in 2017.
Research indicates another 12 potential heritage vessel acquisitions including the Wyuna described earlier. The fate of the Wyuna remains unclear. The Janet property of the Sorrento Steam Historical Restorations Ltd, and the Group working on the HMAS ‘Castlemaine’, currently berthed at Williamstown.
Fleet Consortium prepared an economic case (July 2017) making a persuasive case around the economic up-lift of the Heritage Ships presence in Victoria Harbour. The estimated tourist visitation to Docklands was 3.4 million annually. If only 2 percent of these take a ferry or other water-based experience such as the Heritage Fleet, then the benefit would be considerable.
Steam Tug Wattle
Restored and operated by Bay Steamers Maritime Museum Ltd and owned by the Sorrento Steam group.
Private contribution of $1 million to the restoration to date. Many permanent volunteers.
City of Melbourne waived berthing fees. Planned to be operational early in 2019.
Committed to remaining a Docklands presence.
(Note that a similar vessel, the Steam Tug ‘Forceful’, is acknowledged as a key element of the Queensland Maritime Museum.)
This is a reproduction of the original ship. City of Melbourne waived berthing fees.
Re-located from Williamstown to Docklands. Currently operating successfully out of Collins Wharf, Docklands – school groups, events for example Melbourne Day. Managed through the Enterprize Ship Trust with minimal staff and many volunteers. Currently teaching sail-making and rigging in Shed on Collins Wharf.
City of Melbourne grant $300,000 over three years. City of Melbourne signed an MOU with management. City of Melbourne waived berthing fees for 2018 and funded support for the 2018 Annual Alma Doepel fundraising event. State Government provided $47,000, Rightship $11,350, plus Alma Doepel Supporters Club. There are several organisations associated with Alma Doepel including Tall Ships Victoria, Sail and Adventure Limited and Ocean Education Centre (currently operating in the shed on Collins Wharf).
This vessel is the property of the National Trust of Victoria. It is currently operating in what is widely acknowledged as an inappropriate location. This vessel floats in the last remaining dry dock on the banks of the Yarra next to the Convention Centre at Southbank. Initially planned as the focal point of a fully developed Maritime Museum, it is now a children’s Discovery Centre with some paid staff but mainly volunteer engagement. It does not attract optimal visitation and opens weekends and school holidays only. It is poorly located and needs both urgent repair and possible relocation to a more appropriate tourist site like the ‘Cutty Sark’ exhibition at Greenwich, London. Proposals abound for a re-location to the opposite side of the Yarra at North Bank. Many stakeholders have expressed support for this re-location if feasible given the poor condition of the vessel. Preliminary engineering assessment indicates that, given the degeneration of the hull, the vessel would need to sit permanently on the river on a floating pontoon.
Owned by the Sorrento Steam Historical Restorations Pty Ltd. It was partially restored at Victoria University. Currently stored at a boat builder’s yard awaiting hull work, bulkheads, engine and fit-out. It is to be restored by volunteers under the Bay Steamers Maritime Museum Ltd many of whom are currently restoring the Steam Tug Wattle which is close to becoming a fully operational member of the Heritage Fleet at Victoria Harbour.
(Note: A similar vessel Epic Lass completely restored maintained and operates as a ‘prestige vessel’ for the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney.
HMA Submarine Otama
Located offshore at Western Port Bay at Hastings.
The Western Port Oberon Association is fighting to save HMA Submarine Otama. It is now lying in about one metre of water off Crib Point.
A significant asset within the national Heritage Fleet, Wyuna is a twin-screw diesel electric
pilot cutter 63m long. It serviced the Sea Pilots Association from 1953 the base ship where
sea pilots lived on rotation while waiting to bring vessels into Port Phillip Bay. In September
2013 Wyuna was donated to the Western Port Oberon Association for the Victorian Maritime
Centre currently at Crib Point. When funding becomes available, the Western Port Oberon
Association has plans to display the vessel in a wet berth alongside the former Royal
Australian Navy Oberon-class submarine HMAS Otama.
DISPERSED COLLECTIONS OF ARCHIVES AND ARTEFACTS
Holds an extensive and professionally curated collection of marine archeological artefacts. The collection is not in the public realm. Victoria’s first European settlement was established in 1803 at Sullivan Bay, near Sorrento, 32 years before Melbourne was founded. There are many shipwrecks and heritage sites in Port Phillip Bay associated with Victoria’s early seafaring days.
Heritage Victoria has an extensive collection of maritime archaeological archives and artefacts, which are warehoused and not publicly accessible.
Maritime Museums of Victoria Inc (MMV Inc)
This is a ‘dispersed collection’ owned by the MMV Inc now seeking collaboration with Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network Project and is keen to collaborate not only with Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network but also with the establishment of the Maritime Skills Specialist Centre.
The assets include 30 original oil paintings of the most important ships in the history of Australia – the Koskie Collection (currently held in storage by the Navy).
The Immigration Museum primarily displays Australia’s immigration history. It is located on Flinders Street in the Old Customs House, a notable example of Renaissance Revival architecture. Its proximity to the north bank of the Yarra reflects its original purpose – trade. It is disturbing to note that Immigration Museum dismantled its exhibit providing insight into life aboard a migrant ship. Parts the exhibit were stored and other parts given to the Alma Doepel restoration group.
The Immigration Museum has shifted its focus to the stories of Melbourne’s migrant communities.
Extensive collection of art and artefacts related to the establishment of Victoria. Significant works relating to the European arrival at Port Phillip Bay.
Maritime Trust of Australia
This Trust operates a museum in the form of a restoration project of a WW2 vessel ex HMAS ‘Castlemaine’ currently berthed at the Gem Pier in Williamstown. There is no formal arrangement for this vessel to remain at Williamstown, which is actually controlled by Parks Victoria. The vessel was manufactured in Melbourne (hull generators) and engines were made in the town of Castlemaine.
RAAF Museum, Point Cook
Based at the RAAF Base Williams. This is the official Museum of the RAAF and is located in a secure area, which is property of the Federal Government. The aviation collection includes flying boats and archives related to seaplanes. A ‘Seaplane Flight’ was formed at Point Cook to cooperate with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The RAAF provided the RAN with aircraft and crews to undertake reconnaissance, mapping and range-finding for naval gunfire. Two large Southampton flying boats were also used for coastal reconnaissance and parachute training at Point Cook between World War I and II. Admission is free.
Royal Australian Navy
There is significant interest in increasing the Navy’s profile in Victoria through its heritage collections, says MMHN Board member, Commodore Greg Yorke, Senior Naval Officer for Victoria, and there is strong Navy interest in ongoing collaboration with MMHN.
International Transport Federation (MUA now part of CFMEU)
Known to have maritime archives, which may potentially be made available to a Martine Museum in Melbourne.
Given that many large shipping stevedoring and extractive industry corporations operated from Melbourne and established headquarters in Melbourne, information from stakeholders indicates that significant collections of maritime archives and artefacts have been retained by these organisations and may potentially be made available to a Martine Museum in Melbourne.
Port of Melbourne
Shrine of Remembrance
Recently enlarged, the museum beneath the Shrine itself includes naval exhibits and archives.
Opened in 1934, the Shrine is the Victorian state memorial to Australian Forces who served in global conflicts throughout our nation’s history. The critical importance of the Merchant Navy, obviously part of our maritime legacy, is acknowledged and commemorated by The Shrine. The link to overseas service will be commemorated in the creation of the ‘Shrine to Sea’ Trail.
Victorian Maritime Centre, Crib Point. (VMC)
with the Western Port Oberon Association Inc
President Max Bryant
The VMC is currently located at the former BP terminal building at Crib Point, Victoria. It opens on Saturdays. There are plans to establish a larger maritime centre in Hastings. Ongoing restoration projects include the ‘Wyuna’ (in Tasmania) and the ‘Otama’ (Oberson Class) submarine at Western Port.
Inverloch Maritime Precinct
The Historical Society and Clock Tower Committee restored Rocket Shed and replica of The Ripple. The Rocket Shed (115 years old) is one of only three remaining in Victoria. Its purpose in the early 1900s was to house equipment used to rescue crews from distressed ships along the Inverloch coastline. Rockets with lines attached were fired to the ships, and then a Bosun’s Chair was pulled aboard and used to rescue crew members.
Port Welshpool and District Maritime Museum
Located in one of the original fisherman’s homes of Port Welshpool. Site specific collection: maritime artefacts, archives of the founding families of the district and site of the ‘Janet Iles,’ a fishing boat built in 1914 for the Smith family.
Open Saturday only.
Port Welshpool Long Jetty
The Long Jetty was constructed in the late 1930s, extended in the 1980s, and was closed following fire damage in 2003. Over time the condition of the jetty structure continued to deteriorate with no clear direction or commitment to the future of the structure. It was eventually restored and re-opened in 2018. A Diving Bell is exhibited at the end of the pier.
Paynesville Maritime Heritage Museum
Located on the Gippsland Lakes, Paynesville is an old fishing town where steamers called for fish and freight. The largest of the steamers on the Lakes were built and maintained at Paynesville. Opens one day each month. A site-specific collection. Coverage includes the steamers that once plied the Gippsland Lakes and provided transport of passengers and goods before the railway, the fisherman of Paynesville who were major suppliers of fish to the Melbourne markets and the later developments to a recreational boating precinct of sailing and powerboats.
Fishing Industry – oral history
During 1989 and 1990, Jack Darcey, an oral historian, travelled over 26,800 kilometres around Australia to interview a cross-section of men and women involved in various aspects of the fishing industry.