Maritime garden for the Docklands? | News from the Docks


Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN) proposes that Development Victoria and the City of Melbourne activate the languid Docklands district with a Maritime Garden – a unique open public space designed to attract and engage the public, and in particular engage young people, with technology maritime marvels that have enabled centuries of exploration and trade across the vast oceans.

There are many facilities that enable the process of exploration above and below water, e.g. navigation, monitoring and measurement of weather, swell, environment/pollution, life marine and estuarine, etc.

An open waterside public space within the precincts of Docklands would be very appropriate, with permanent, heritage-based but forward-looking maritime activities that truly respect and reflect the unique waterways of Docklands . Perhaps the heritage fleet could be moored nearby?

The MMHN was recently delighted to discover that the plans for such an informative and unique maritime garden were drawn up over 20 years ago by landscape architect Simon Warrender. The shape of the garden itself is based on the cardinal points.

MMHN argues that the time has come to implement these designs for a dedicated maritime garden in Docklands.

Heritage Fleet News Now

MMHN recommends you take a close look at the marvelous steam tug Acacia approaching the ‘pointy end’ of its painstaking restoration work in sight along North Wharf.

Maritime catering is always a long and expensive business. Volunteers have dedicated 14 years and more than 40,000 hours of work to the Acacia project. Funding is an ever-present headache (more like a headache actually) for those brave individuals who are valiantly intent on restoring and/or operating Melbourne’s heritage fleet. Fundraising is not for the faint hearted.

Acaciais now focusing on the latest funding ‘crisis’ to realize the vision to operate and enliven Victoria Harbour, Yarra and Port Phillip Bay. So far, nearly $2 million and in-kind support has been provided by enthusiastic donors. The Port of Melbourne has been very generous with in-kind support covering high ‘slipping’ costs.

Before too long, Acacia will begin to generate its own funds through tourism, but approximately another $200,000 is needed to make the “vision” a reality. Acacia is operational, the sooner it can become self-sufficient.

If you recognize the immense efforts of so many and recognize the value of maritime heritage in the Docklands area, perhaps offer your support by helping to complete the Acacia works. The account name is Recovery Account. Bank details: BSB (083 163). Account number (4374 59324).

Polly Woodside

News from Polly Woodside near Southbank is less encouraging. The National Trust (Vic) has announced that it will hold open days on Sunday 4 September and Sunday 2 and 10 September and will offer optional guided tours at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm.

Maintenance costs remain a serious issue, as does Polly’s invaluable but dwindling capacity and volunteer numbers.

Melbourne Port Rail Bridge – the solution!

MMHN has long feared that the Port of Melbourne has rail infrastructure plans, which will have a serious and negative impact on our waterways. References within the “Navigating Our Ports Futures” strategy justify our growing concern about this prospect.

Although no support from the state government is stated, much is inferred. Obviously, the installation of an at-grade railway line across the Yarra on the bay side of the Bolte Bridge will certainly hamper all shipping traffic in the Yarra, making Victoria Harbor a mere pond.

MMHN sincerely recognizes the port’s business imperative to advance such rail infrastructure, but totally rejects the proposed plan for an old-fashioned ‘at-grade’ bridge when a submerged tube is the obvious ‘solution’. No news, of course, as the Sydney Morning Herald (August 1, 2022) happened to cite the example of the historic but redundant “Hef” officially Koningshaven Bridge, over the Koningshaven (Kings Harbour) Canal at the port of rotterdam. See

This solution to Rotterdam’s freight logistics problem was in 1987 the installation of a 2796 meter long submerged railway tunnel, Willemsspoortunnel, a series of concrete caissons built off-site and lowered into the river to become a submerged tunnel. See:

There are many other examples of such submerged precast tunnel installations in Scandinavia. This is clearly a smart solution to the Port of Melbourne’s logistical problem and one that does not pollute our waterways. Surely the government of this SMART state should make sure the port investigates these options – before totally ruining the Docklands waterways? •


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