5 posts in this thread / 0 new
Last post

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.

Back to top
Chris Peska's picture

Great thread Pete! Thanks for your contributions :)

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

Back to top
Peter Maltezos's picture

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

I collect, therefore I am.

Back to top
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.

Back to top
Daniel Wilson's picture

Imagine how amazing that would have been!

Back to top

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.


Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.