Turning a corner
Woolworths Fishermans Bend opened today. A flurry of workers were still applying finishing touches as the store opened. The anticipation was only slightly dampened by the announcement of the 5 day snap lockdown. Generally, people seemed to think that Coles, Port Melbourne, warranted competition.
Woolworths Fishermans Bend occupies a corner of Goodman Australia’s Port Melbourne Industrial Estate estate, part of their extensive landholdings in Fishermans Bend which include Port Central Business Park, Port Melbourne Industrial Estate and Port + Business Park. Openings have been punched into the wall of the vast shed to create a 200 space covered carpark.
Opposite the supermarket, the newly named Port Melbourne Secondary College commands the corner. Highly regarded educator Anne Stout, formerly Assistant Principal at Albert Park College, has recently been appointed the principal of the College. She will begin work in Term 3 on preparing the school for its 2022 opening to Year 7 students and building the school community.
The College is only 350 metres, less than a minute, away from Port Melbourne Primary School across a signalised crossing at Williamstown Rd. With more students crossing the intersection, further traffic calming may be needed.
The name ‘Port Melbourne Secondary College’ was chosen following an online consultation process and ‘refers to the suburb the College is located in’, according to the website of the Victorian School Building Authority. Interesting that Woolworths has opted for the Fishermans Bend name.
Supermarket and school are in the designated Wirraway Precinct of Fishermans Bend which is bounded by Williamstown Rd, the Westgate Freeway, Todd Rd, and Graham St. The Fishermans Bend Framework imagines Wirraway to be
“A predominantly family-friendly inner city neighbourhood close to the bay and Westgate Park. Wirraway is a family-friendly neighbourhood. …. Wirraway provids a choice of diverse housing, including townhouses … Building heights step down towards Williamstown Road to respect Garden City’s low-scale built form. J L Murphy Reserve continues to be a focus for recreation active through the day and evening”.
It seems that some of that character is emerging.
Next door to the supermarket to the north at 525 Graham St is a site currently occupied by National Tiles. The 1.8 ha site has recently come onto the market after being held in the same family for 24 years. The anticipated sale price of $30 million reflects the potential value of this large, neglected, site.
The sharp divide between residential Port Melbourne and industrial Fishermans Bend is beginning to blur.
The ‘other’ side of Williamstown Rd is dense with interesting history.
Between the wars, pioneer aviator Robert Graham Carey conducted his flying school here, sometimes referred to as the ‘Careydrome’. After the First World War Carey bought 4 ex Defence Department Maurice Farman Shorthorns. He used a pre-owned signal box as the booking office. Carey also distributed advertising material across Victoria from his plane. His last recorded flight was in 12 May 1937 ‘above the swamps and rubbish tips’ of Fishermans Bend.
In summer, back in the sixties, trucks laden with fruit from Shepparton would line up on Williamstown Rd awaiting delivery to Brookes Lemos, later Tom Piper. In full production the factory would run several shifts. Many local women worked on the production line, coring cling stone peaches and cleaning damaged fruit. Tom Piper employed many Maltese and Greek women in those days. While the smell of boiling fruit is fondly remembered, the smell of Tom Piper’s camp pie is not.
But the story that is most often told is about the fight behind the Port Melbourne Fire Station between Reg ‘Ox’ Earle, a larger than life cravat wearing truck driver, and Lennie Faye in 1949. A crowd of around 200 people turned out to watch, the crowd itself forming the ring. Earle lost the fight.
Here is a map showing the places referred to in this post for readers not familiar with the area.