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Melbourne's Canals

Peter Maltezos's picture

Melbourne’s Canals

In 1860 the engineer John Millar put forward this design for a ship canal or tidal harbour and docks for the port of Melbourne.


Notice just to the left of Hoddle's grid, a lake containing islands in the form of the British Isles created from what was then a swamp in West Melbourne.


Notice also the circular docks at the mouth of Hobsons Bay, where we now have the Beacon Cove development and the turning basin retained with rectangular docks along the way down to Hobsons Bay.


If this proposal was carried through, we would now have a vastly different city with possibly a much better relationship to water activities and dock related industries.



The canal that we got, Coode Canal seen in the center of the map below named after Sir John Coode (engineer for the harbour trust) opened on 11 August 1886.

This 1956 map also shows the outline of Yarra's old course which was filled in. Before it was filled, it helped form an island from the construction of Coode Canal.


That is how Coode Island got its name.


Seen also is Victoria Dock (originally West Melbourne Dock) which was constructed in 1887-1892.


Notice also, no Swanson Dock or Webb Dock yet, and at Fishermen's Bend an aerodrome where some of our aerospace industries are now based.



Below, we see a model of the never completed New South Yarra project, later known as The Como Project, South Yarra.

Architects: Godfrey and Spowers.

A mixed use development that included a canal connecting to the Yarra River.

Only stage one, the southern quarter fronting Toorak Road was completed.

Most of the remaining land was purchased by Mirvac and developed using a different design without the canal.



Below, we see the plan of the cancelled Sandridge City, mixed use bayside development, Port Melbourne.

Architects: Godfrey and Spowers, Robert Peck & Co.

It was to include canals, ship shaped maritime museum and a marina.

Mirvac later purchased the site, renamed the project Beacon Cove and developed it using a different design without the canals.



Below, we see steam driven machinery diging the Coode Canal- the new course of the Yarra ~1880s.


Another canal that was built and is still relatively intact, is the Railway Coal Canal (now known as The Railway Canal). It was constructed around the time of the Coode Canal development and served two purposes, draining the Moonee Ponds Creek into the Coode Canal and to enable coal to be delivered on barges to the Victorian Railway's coal depot near North Melbourne Station.

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Chris Peska's picture

Great thread Pete! Thanks for your contributions :)

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

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Peter Maltezos's picture

Thanks for the kind words, I just enjoy posting this stuff! smiley

I collect, therefore I am. thecollectormm.com.au

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Melbman's picture

Its a pity we don't have more canals, or waterways in general.

Thanks for posting this thread. Great to see the past designs and what was done in the end.

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Daniel Wilson's picture

Imagine how amazing that would have been!

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Anju Kumari's picture

Its a pity we don't have more trenches, or conduits as a rule.

Much obliged for posting this string. Extraordinary to see the past structures and what was done at last.

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