Some of your ideas for Docklands …

By on November 3, 2021 0


In the October issue of News from the Docks, we asked you, members of the local community, to share some of your thoughts and ideas for the future of our post-COVID enclosure. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are inviting as many locals as possible to add their voices to the discussion by sending an email [email protected]. Take advantage of a handful of responses received last month …

My opinion on the Docklands

Hello, I am Cliff Steele, a resident of Victoria Point on Harbor Esplanade for eight years now. The News from the Docks asked for local feedback on Docklands. Here are my thoughts.

I don’t see Docklands as a suburb. It may be semantic, but the suburbs are for me the outskirts of an agglomeration. Squares of small houses with gardens and people mowing their lawns on Sundays. Docklands is not like that. It is a very urban environment on the west side of the central business district. It might be outside of Hoddle Grid, but it should be considered as much of a downtown area as Spring St on the east side. This is what makes Docklands unique. This is where the city center meets the water.

The first thing that should happen to improve Docklands is to repair Harbor Esplanade. It should be the crown jewel of the neighborhood, but it’s a hopeless mess. The remains of the first failed attempt to create a large avenue are still visible. Old streetcar lines, abandoned street furniture, and colorful, cheap slabs of concrete, gravel, and asphalt look terrible. Attempts to patch things up over the years with pockets of lawn and cheap structures haven’t helped at all. It is a dark place that is even darker when it rains and the wind blows from the harbor. From LaTrobe St to Bourke St, on the east side of Harbor Esplanade, there are only the empty windows of the offices of Marvel Stadium and Bendigo Bank. This part of the street facing the harbor should be activated with shops and cafes. It would be necessary to get in touch with the owners for a change of use but it is feasible. Views are good and the wide trail could take up a lot of outdoor space. The pines are growing well and it would be nice to sit on a hot day.

It might be an unpopular opinion, but I really think Central Pier should be demolished. It is not at all an attractive structure. The ugly sheds with cream brick walls and tin roofs have no architectural value, and the stained concrete deck is hideous. It would be much better to remove the piles and have an open body of water. I know many would see the loss of the pier as a loss of heritage, but the rotten piers that the structures sit on are the only real heritage things and they are done.

There is a real living heritage on North Wharf Rd, and it’s the boat builders. Their workshop should be part of any new development because what they do is the only original Docklands activity that still survives.

The new transport hub that will be erected on the port should be an exceptional piece of architecture, but I doubt that it is. It’s a shame. Exceptionalism is lacking in Docklands. The hub is a great idea and perhaps a ferry to Frankston and Mornington could be added to the already operational services to Geelong and Portarlington.

The automobile museum on Collins St and Harbor Esplanade, as it stands, is an eyesore. Collins St is arguably the best street in town and this museum doesn’t let the street down. The building itself is attractive but shabby and unloved, and the landscaping is nonexistent. It has the potential to be something really cool, but a bit of grass, a tall fence sometimes covered in graffiti, and a gravel parking lot just don’t belong on such a beautiful street.

There is a serious lack of diversity in Docklands stores. Where are the delicatessens, pastry shops, clothing boutiques or gift shops that can be found in places like South Yarra and Carlton? Where are the types of stores that can be found on any major suburban street? Real estate agents and fast food restaurants seem to be the only places operating here. There is also a lack of quality in the stores that are here. There isn’t a store or restaurant in Docklands that people would walk through town for. There are a few exceptions, like Salluministi, but it seems that many owners think that a good view of the water is sufficient. It’s not.

Parking is another self-made problem. At Carlton, parking is free afternoon from Saturday to Monday morning. In Docklands people have to pay high prices to park on weekends or have limited hours even though few shops are open. It distracts people.

The proposed tram bridge and freight bridge to run alongside the Bolte bridge should never be allowed to be built. There is a real need to cross the river but it should be done with tunnels. If the Bolte Bridge had been built higher, Victoria Harbor could have had a cruise terminal like Circular Quay in Sydney. It would really activate Docklands.

Unfortunately, the deck is too low for that now, but due to COVID there may be a trend in the future for small cruise ships of a size that can fit below deck. Closing this body of water by building a low bridge for freight trains would literally turn Victoria Harbor into a lost hole. Even the sailboats could not visit. We cannot allow that to happen. As for the tram crossing: the Charles Grimes bridge could be redeveloped to take trams. Alternatively, a lift or swing bridge could be built at the location already assigned, but a tunnel would be preferable. All of these things were done in cities abroad.

The pedestrian bridge between Spencer St and Marvel Stadium on the north side of Southern Cross Station could be transformed into a much more welcoming thoroughfare with new paving and landscaping. The striped two-tone asphalt may look interesting from above, but at pedestrian level it looks dated and very unwelcoming. A good example of what can be done is the private gardens at the base of the Medicare office building adjacent to the walkway. If these gardens continued all the way to the pedestrian bridge, the bridge, like the Highline in New York City, could become a destination in itself and a perfect way to inspire people to explore the Docklands more deeply.

On a map, Docklands appears to be the best area in Melbourne. It is the center of the metropolis but it is on the edge of a port which leads to the sea. The housing stock is shiny and new and the streets have been well planned with an underground supply. He has such potential, but things must be done to realize that potential and they must be done now. Not in five or ten years. We have waited long enough.

Cliff Steele

We need to have dinner in the open air!

We need to activate alfresco dining along the harbor (on the back of Melbourne’s CBD which will use lanes for safe dining). But we have a phenomenal port… I know which one I would prefer!

The Docklands Chamber of Commerce must engage with the City of Melbourne to obtain the appropriate license to use the existing NewQuay promenade for dining. It must be right on the harbor.

A row of tables (similar to the image above) should be placed directly on the water to ensure a view of the waterfront (in addition, we have the length necessary to provide this experience to many customers), with identical tablecloths regardless of the restaurant to create a look along the waterfront. Portable gas heaters and optional parasols. Bring outdoor European meals to Docklands!

Implement QR ordering and payment from your table (like what Cargo and Berth were doing before the last lockdown, it worked great). You just sit down and order what you like at this restaurant for food and drink with table service. It could be Renzos, BHOJ, Solitaire, Stakehouse, etc.). This will also work along the Victoria Harbor promenade (Squires Loft etc).

We don’t have time to wait for the light / laser show to activate, which will come in and facilitate tours during the winter months. From November 5th we will be welcoming meals again, especially outdoors, so we have enough time to organize this. Clean the promenade (pressure wash and scrub) to make it look good. There is no better place than right by the water between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. when daylight saving time kicks in.

Yes, depending on the weather, but we will have good weather for the next few months. It is a tourist attraction and like the places below they have a peak trading season which is summer. Cost effective, quick to activate, and we have the F&B operators desperate to get to work when meals are allowed.

EUROPEAN DINNER @ DOCKLANDS! We can do that and show Melbourne what an alfresco dining is… imagine.

Stacy Androikos

Activate our waterways

It was interesting to read your article “Docklands: We need a plan” in the October 21 issue and to read what people think about the lack of activity in Development Victoria.

You are right, the main topics regarding Central Pier and Harbor Esplanade are points that should have been fixed and / or activated a long time ago. There appears to be very little or no interest from the governing bodies. When we got here in Docklands the southwest part of Central Pier was used extensively as a parking lot which was very convenient for some of the visitors who came here. Now it is sometimes used quite easily for a large number of seagulls.

It is the most horrible place in Victoria Harbor. The central pier should have been corrected and opened a long time ago as well.

My next topic has to be the use of the waterways in and out of Victoria Harbor. A few months ago I attended a meeting chaired by Jackie Watts on Victoria Harbor and
the use of watercourses. I was able to share my thoughts on the ferry service with them. A while ago I worked in Sydney and I was, and still am, impressed with how the people of Sydney can use their ferry service. I told the meeting that I have observed how many people arrive here from Geelong and Portarlington early in the morning.

The Portarlington ferry carries around 60 to 90 people depending on the day. While the Geelong ferry arrives here with around 10-20.
My suggestion was to bring these small numbers to Portarlington and rename
one of the boats with the name “Mornington” and let the ship come here across the bay from Port Philip. The ferry could depart from Mornington via Frankston, Sandringham and / or St Kilda and into Victoria Harbor. Okay, the ferries are privately owned so you’ll have to talk to the guy. But I watch the road traffic to Melbourne from this peninsula, it is huge in the morning and the same on the way back in the evening. A large number of people could and would like to use this type of transport. It would even help with current discussions on climate change.

The Yarra River crossing will need a lot of discussion if we are to keep Victoria Harbor an interesting place for visitors in the future.

Karl Berberich •


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.