I have lived in Port Melbourne for just on 3 years now and my ‘hood has a long and interesting history, particularly important in the settlement of the city of Melbourne and the state of Victoria. It also remains a working port today.
Port Melbourne covers quite a large area that includes 3 different localities – mine is called Beacon Cove and features a waterfront promenade, palm-lined boulevards and 2 operational shipping beacons, or mini lighthouses if you prefer.
More importantly though, Beacon Cove is where the cruise ships dock when visiting Melbourne.
I love cruising and I have written a few tales about my cruise experiences, so what better neighbourhood to live in than one where I can gaze out to sea and reminisce about past cruises and dream about future voyages.
Our home (my ‘hood) is situated less than 100 metres from Princes Pier, a welcoming point for generations of new arrivals into Australia. Opened in 1915, it was able to accommodate the largest of steamers and was renamed to honour Prince Edward VII, who made a visit here in 1920. Over many decades, this pier has played a critical role in commerce, wartime manoeuvres and migration.
A short distance down from Princes Pier is Station Pier, originally called Railway Pier. Operating for over 150 years, the pier has been important in almost every phase of Australia’s history and saw the departure and return of thousands of troops and supply ships during WWI and WWII.
But it was in the post-World War II years that Station Pier became the welcoming point for thousands of migrants. This is why it holds such a special place in the hearts of many Victorians.
In 1930 the Port Melbourne channel was dredged to allow for the entry of the new generation of luxury passenger liners and this cruising boom continued until the late twentieth century when cruise ships became unprofitable compared to air travel.
Thankfully the 21st century has seen a massive return to the popularity of cruising and today, Station Pier is Melbourne and Victoria’s cruise ship gateway. It is now busier than it has ever been in terms of passenger numbers with almost 80 ship visits scheduled during the 2014-15 cruise ship season.
As a lover of all things cruise, I find this very reassuring.
Recently the City of Port Phillip put out a call out for Waterfront Welcomers – volunteers to meet the cruise ships and guide and inform the visitors to ‘my hood. The ‘Welcomers’ will provide information on local history, heritage, culture, attractions and activities in the surrounding area to encourage visitors to spend more time in Port Melbourne and the City of Port Phillip.
Naturally, I joined up.
Tomorrow sees the arrival of the first cruise ship of the season with the official launch to follow on 20th October. I look forward to posting updates about this new exciting role as ambassador for this beautiful and unique area, where maritime history meets modern tourism.
Keep an eye out for me at the pier as I meet and greet thousands of passengers as they set foot on the soil of Port Melbourne, my ‘hood.