It is great to see people out there on the pier and on the water. Princes Pier is now a large public space with people walking, wheeling, fishing, sitting and meeting. I went to check it out and found so much interesting information there.
Princes Pier was built between 1912 and1915. It is on Port Phillip Bay at Port Melbourne. For many years it was a major passenger and cargo terminal. In 1989 the pier was closed. Restoration and modification work was started by the State Government. The pier re-opened to the public on 12 December 2011 and is accessible to everyone.
New and old
Concrete has been used to build the new section of the pier. The older part is 380 metres and has been left as a forest of exposed timber piles. On the new concrete deck, there is a heritage kiosk and information boards. The kiosk has a rusted iron look. It has two interactive touch screens at accessible heights. There is so much history to read. Unfortunately there are no visual aids.
The pier is 580 metres long. There are 5000 timber piles driven into the ocean floor. Some are 21 metres long. Princes Pier is the second largest timber-pile structure in Australia. The adjacent Station Pier is the largest.
There are two elevated platforms on either side of the restored gatehouse and gates. The platforms are for possible future concerts or other events. They both have ramps. There is also a landing point for boats with another ramp. Mounted binoculars are at the far end. One is at an accessible height. There is also a disabled toilet available at the rear of the gatehouse.
The new part of the pier is open at night and has good lighting. The gates close on the rear section at about 9.30pm. At night a sign lits up the word princes. Its shimmering lights make it look as though it is on the water. It is a spectacular sight.
Moments in history
The first name for the pier was the New Railway Pier. The rail line on the pier connected the first suburban railway line in Australia. It ran from Port Melbourne to Flinders Street.
Princes Pier was one of the last links with home for service personnel throughout the two world wars. During the Great Depression fights broke out between workers and police. Gun shots were fired. .
Princes Pier was the welcoming place in Melbourne for many thousands of migrants. After the second world war it welcomed people from refugee camps in Eastern Europe. It meant a new beginning for many migrants.
Melbourne's migrant history is culturally important. The Piers Festival at Station Pier and Princes Pier on 28 January will celebrate this history. Multicultural Arts Victoria is presenting the multicultural festival. http://www.multiculturalarts.com.au/events2012/piers.shtml
The pier played a large role in Australia's development in the twentieth century. It also shaped the suburb of Port Melbourne. It is great to have it in use again.