Saluting Melbourne’s maritime heritage

The City of Melbourne will consider developing a new maritime heritage trail and work with the Victorian Government to redevelop the Mission to Seafarers building to breathe new life into Docklands.

“We want locals and tourists to add Melbourne’s waterfront to their exciting itinerary and learn about our proud maritime heritage and inject some much needed money into nearby businesses,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.  

“Mission to Seafarers would become the heart of a maritime precinct trail to attract more visitors to Docklands – and reimagine Melbourne’s waterways history.”

Council and the Victorian Government jointly commissioned a feasibility case which investigated options to establish a Melbourne maritime heritage precinct along the Birrarung Yarra River.        

“The study found strong community support for a trail concept which would connect existing maritime properties while also recognising Aboriginal maritime heritage,” the Lord Mayor said.    

Extensive consultation was undertaken on the precinct – including with more than 70 heritage stakeholders, Traditional Owner groups, thousands of visitors and hundreds of online survey forms completed.   

The Lord Mayor said the ‘precinct as a trail’ concept will be integrated into the Draft Greenline Implementation Plan, feeding into the creation of a continuous 4km green link from Birrarung Marr to the Bolte Bridge.     

This could include a new entry point to the Birrarung Yarra River through Seafarers Rest Park, with better pedestrian and cycling connections making it easier and more enjoyable travel into the CBD, Docklands and Southbank.      

Heritage portfolio lead, Cr Rohan Leppert, said the trail could be a valuable link into Docklands.  

“The trail could increase public open space while providing access to our maritime district,” Cr Leppert said.

“Mission to Seafarers is an important part of Melbourne’s maritime history – and the future functions of this special building need to be carefully considered by Council and the Victorian Government if we are to celebrate its rich maritime and seafaring history for generations to come,” Cr Leppert said.

Built in 1917 by the Mission to Seafarers, the heritage-listed building spans 2,030 square metres and currently includes a consecrated chapel, courtyard, domed room, hall and other multifunctional smaller spaces.   

It is recommended that Council continue to work with the Victorian Government to determine the best future use of the Mission to Seafarers building, and advocate for funding to upgrade this important community asset. 

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