Maritime Heritage Assets: The ‘Dispersed Collection’

In addition to sites, memorials and monuments of social, economic and cultural significance, extensive and nationally significant maritime archives and artifact collections remain in Melbourne. These form a ‘dispersed collection’ around Central and Greater Melbourne. They are not understood as representing ‘collectively’ valuable public assets with the capability to generate both cultural benefit and economic benefit.

It is a concern that the responsibility for curating many of these valuable heritage assets lies currently with non-profit organisations, managed by volunteers, corporates and several government departments. Non-profit private organisations also hold maritime assets and such collections or sites are primarily staffed by volunteers under constant pressure to generate income. Untrained volunteers care for these marine assets collections in various dispersed locations. Few comply with the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries. Without Museum Accreditation Program compliance and accreditation, they cannot optimize tourism promotional opportunities.

Without professional curatorial expertise, which would be available in an accredited Museum, nationally significant maritime heritage assets will remain in jeopardy.

Stakeholders report that maritime collections are growing apace though formal and informal donations. Collections are geographically dispersed and Museum standard conservation standards are not generally adopted. National Museum standards are not being met. Museums Victoria advises that such donation generally require professional curatorial assessment – which is costly.

It is important to note that the collections within regional maritime museums in Victoria are often ‘site specific’. i.e. generally focusing upon on local maritime heritage and largely reliant upon support by local governments.

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 Govt. 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 19th 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 Circle, there are three large floating buoys. No information on these artifacts 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 south bank was essentially a swamp area with some industry but no major government planning or investment until the 1980s when work on Arts precinct commenced.


The Polly Woodside

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)

This significant heritage machinery is the last remaining 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 by the 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.

Aboriginal presence

Aboriginal Australians camped in the bush near the Yarra River, [Vic.]  Photo by Daintree, Richard, 1832-1878, photographer
Title: Aboriginal Australians camped in the bush near the Yarra River, [Vic.] .
Author/Creator: Daintree, Richard, 1832-1878, photographer.
Notes: Photographer's name identified from similar image at H2476.

For at least 30,000 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.

Seafarers services organisations

The Mission to Seafarers (Docklands, Yarra North Wharf)

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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 centers 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.

Note: There are plans to amalgamate seafarer’s services and locate these at Mission to Seafarers at Flinders Street.

Specialist ships and 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 artifacts 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 artifacts 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. See later section: The Case for a Melbourne Waterways Maritime Trail.

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 artifacts 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.

See later section: reference proposing a re-location.

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. See:

Anchor Clankers


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, The 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 ex HMAS ‘Castlemaine’, currently berthed at Williamstown, may also join the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network in due course.

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'

Steam Tug ‘Wattle’ – Geoff Harris, Tony Lewis 0410 471 819.

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.)


The 'Enterprize'

Michael Womack CEO 0419 520

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.


The ‘Alma Doepel

Peter Harris CEO

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). No date for completion of the Alma Doepel restoration yet announced.


The ‘Polly Woodside

Simon Ambrose CEO

Martin Green Cultural Engagement Manager

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.


The ‘Janet

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.



The ex HMAS ‘Castlemaine

One of 60 vessels built in Australia. Owned by the Maritime Trust of Australia. Built at Williamstown during WW2. Restoration underway. Seeking collaboration with Melbourne Maritime Network.]


The ex HMAS Submarine ‘Otama'

Located offshore at Western Port Bay at Hastings with $500,000 Centenary of Federation Grant from the Australian Department of Defence. It may be viewed from the shore.

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The vessel ‘Wyuna

A significant asset within the national Heritage Fleet, the ‘Wyuna’ is a twin-screw diesel electric pilot cutter 63m long. It serviced the Sea Pilots Association from 1953 until November 1979 and was then sold to the new Maritime College at Launceston for use as a training ship. Its design is based on a modified version of the Royal Yacht Britannia. The ‘Wyuna’ was the base ship where sea pilots lived on rotation while waiting to bring vessels into Port Phillip Bay. Its ‘credentials’ and heritage value are widely acknowledged.  After a 10 year lay-up the vessel has undergone an extensive restoration program and in August 2015 ‘Wyuna’ went to sea again sailing once more down the Tamar River from Launceston to prepare to return to her home in Victoria. Preparing to sail for Melbourne the proposed berth in Melbourne did not eventuate and ‘Wyuna’ became stranded at Inspection Head wharf in Beauty Point. With the wharf under repair ‘Wyuna’ was moved to an anchorage off Beauty Point on the Tamar River where it remains today. The port authorities have made certain stipulation before ‘Wyuna’ is allowed back alongside the Inspection Head Wharf. These requirements were scheduled for completion by the end of February 2019 at which point ‘Wyuna’ would have made final preparations to sail for Melbourne. ‘Wyuna’ would steam through Port Phillip Heads under her own power finally returning home to Victoria. This is not yet possible.

The City of Melbourne, Waterways Branch acknowledges the heritage value of the vessel and the opportunity it presents as an addition to the heritage fleet. However given that Victoria Harbour has no suitable mooring, there is a proposal that the vessel be permanently moored at Princes Pier (580m long historic pier in Port Melbourne adjacent to Station Pier and is property of Ports Victoria). An alternate mooring might be on the ocean side of Bolte Bridge (controlled by Port authorities). Note: Research indicates that commercial use of this area by commercial shipping is very rare.

Notes: Princes Pier has been proposed by stakeholders as a possible final destination for the vessel but discussions have not commenced with relevant authorities.

May 2019 The completion of restoration activities plans have not been confirmed as yet.

Sailing and water-based events

Although often sailing events commence outside Melbourne opportunities exist to engage and build-upon all such the events, which obviously link ‘Melbourne’ with other locations.

The Port of Melbourne – Port of Osaka Yacht Race


A unique race between Port Cities – Sister Cities first held in 1987 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Osaka. Former CoM Lord Mayor Trevor Huggard sailed in the first race.  The City of Melbourne provides the licence to use the “Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed Yacht Club” trademark and have provided hospitality support to competitors in the past. This is Australia’s longest Category 1 yacht race, the equivalent of eight back-to-back Sydney to Hobart’s with only two people on board.


Now held every four years (on average) to celebrate the City of Melbourne and the City of Osaka Sister City and Sister Port relationship.

The 2018 event was fully subscribed with a waiting list of keen competitors.

Next event is scheduled for 2022.

The City of Melbourne has an opportunity to support allocated events at Docklands.

The race commences at the Heads. Preparation of the boats occurs at Sandringham.

Melbourne to Launceston Yacht Races


The Melbourne to Launceston Yacht Race is the ‘Grand Old Dame’ of Australian ocean races. It is the oldest ocean race in Australia and the fifth oldest on the face of the planet.

In 1907, Thomas Fleming Day, editor of the American magazine ‘Rudder’ wrote to his friend, the Commodore of the Geelong Yacht Club, T.A. Dickson, suggesting a race across Bass Strait to Tasmania in order to promote the sport of yachting. Day struck a trophy worth 60 guineas, a fortune at the time, as a prize for the winner. More than 100 years later, yachts are still racing across Bass Strait for the honour of winning the Rudder Cup. The Rudder Cup is Australia’s oldest ocean race and the 5th oldest organised ocean yacht race in the world, predating the Fastnet race by nearly 20 years and the Sydney to Hobart race by nearly four decades.

Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race


Now in its 44th year, the 435 nautical mile blue-water classic Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race was the brainchild of Stan Gibson from Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club in Melbourne and Dr. Joe Cannon at Derwent Sailing Squadron in Hobart.

Arguably Australia’s most challenging ocean race, the Melbourne to Hobart starts from Portsea Pier.


Couta Boat Events


The Couta Boat Association is dedicated to the promotion of iconic wooden Australian gaff rig fishing boats now raced in competitive and social fleets.

The Victorian Couta boat is a distinct Australian designed working boat going back to the latter part of the 1800s. Queenscliffe, just inside Port Phillip Heads, was a fishing community, which initially worked their local areas inside the bay. To go out the heads required a boat capable of handling the ‘The Rip’ as the passage is known, and then the much rougher offshore conditions. By the 1890s they had established a fleet that was working out into the strait, using sailing craft that were different from the inshore boats. When railways reached coastal communities the ability to transport fish quickly to Melbourne encouraged the fleet size to expand and made it practical to fish offshore and to freight the catch to the market.


Round the World Yacht Races


Round the World Yacht Races e.g. Volvo Ocean Race, World Clipper Races

These races are multi-million dollar events and involve many sailing clubs throughout Melbourne. More could be done to optimise an economic up-lift in Melbourne itself and reinforce Melbourne’s historic role as a port city destination.

Dragon Boats Victoria


President – Adrian Stephens

Based at Victoria Harbour Docklands.

Dragon boat racing has cultural origins in ancient China and has evolved into a highly competitive sport right across the globe. Dragon Boats Victoria delivers regattas across metropolitan and regional Victoria. Their premier event is the Victorian State Championships, which is held at the end of each season in March.

Dispersed ‘collections’ of archives and artifacts

Note: This list is not definitive – much more exists:

Heritage Victoria


Holds an extensive and professionally curated collection of marine archeological artifacts. 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 artifacts, 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 in storage).

Immigration Museum


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 Morgan Collection


Extensive collection of art and artifacts related to the establishment of Victoria. Significant works relating to the European arrival at Port Phillip Bay.

The 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.

The Royal Australian Navy


There is significant interest in increasing the Navy’s profile in Victoria including the possibility of the proposed Melbourne Maritime Heritage Museum having accessing relevant memorabilia now stored at Flinders, on the recommendation of OSSA, Commodore Greg Yorke, Senior Naval Officer for Victoria. Given that the original form of Australian Navy first formed in Geelong in the 1880s and its headquarters remained in Melbourne at Victoria Barracks until the 1960s, there is strong Navy interest in the 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.

Corporate Archives


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 Corporation

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The Consortium is understood to have acquired Port of Melbourne archives at the time of the lease. It now has a 50-year lease.

It is important to note that the Port of Melbourne (operating through three separate contracts docks adjacent to Docklands Precinct) remains the largest and most sophisticated commercial port facility in Australia. Yet the critical importance of this port facility has little public recognition.

Ports now, as throughout Melbourne’s history, are of crucial importance to the prosperity of this city, this State and to the nation. Few are aware of the Australian very early engagement with emerging technologies such as containerisation and refrigeration in global commerce shipping, nor the consequence of the early adoption of this technology on national prosperity. Nor does the wider public recognise nor understand the technical sophistication of Melbourne’s current ports as efficient global container facilities (one port is completely automated and two other ports to a great extent.)

The establishment of the recently registered Off-shore and Specialist Ships Australia Group (OSSA) reflects a very real concern identified by those in the shipping industry, that the contribution of the multi-faceted shipping industry to Australia’s prosperity (i.e. trade, commercial shipping and specialised shipping, extractive rigs) is not widely known nor understood. See:

The Port of Melbourne corporation operates the Port of Melbourne Education Centre (PortEd) in Lorimer Street, Port Melbourne for schools and community groups but directed at the general public.

A QIC-led consortium clinched a $9.7 billion 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne in one of the largest infrastructure deals of 2016. The Port of Melbourne is Australia’s largest container, automotive and general cargo port by throughput, located in the heart of Melbourne city”

See – The construction and development of Webb Dock



The 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. See later section: The Case for a Melbourne-Waterways Maritime 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 artifacts, 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. See:

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.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, Warrnambool


Site-specific collection. Focus on the 19th century ‘Shipwreck’ coast off Bass Strait, marine archeological collection.


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.