Philip Mallis

Walking adventures in Port Melbourne

A quest to find an 8cm quiche baking pan brought me into South Melbourne today. After several days of fruitless searching at a multitude of homeware and cooking shops in the eastern suburbs, I finally found what I was looking for at Chef’s Hat on Cecil Street.

After a celebratory cheese and spinach borek (for $3!) from the South Melbourne Market, I wandered through the surrounding streets to have a look around. I eventually ended up on Williamstown Road and started following it down towards Port Melbourne and the industrial areas adjacent to the West Gate Freeway just to see where it led.

Needless to say that I wasn’t expecting five-star pedestrian or cycling facilities, but even these low expectations were hardly met. The area felt incredibly hostile towards anything that wasn’t on at least four wheels and powered by an engine, with entire stretches of streets without footpaths on either side, pedestrian crossings to nowhere and entire sections of industrial estates inaccessible by anything other than motor vehicles.

No footpath near Prohasky Street, Port Melbourne

In the photo above, I was trying to find away to get across the West Gate Freeway as a pedestrian. Without any signage or a map, the Todd Street underpass seemed the only way to get across at the time.

Unfortunately, there was no footpath for a significant part of this route. I had to walk through long grass, a drain and a flock of birds who seemed surprised that anyone was trying to negotiate this route on foot.

Todd Road intersection, Port Melbourne

At the intersection itself (above), there were no pedestrian facilities at all – not even a signalled crossing. As such, I had to sprint across the road at what seemed like a reasonably safe interval and hope that I had timed the lights properly. To my relief, there was a shared path on the other side which I followed under the freeway to Westgate Park.

West Gate Bridge from Westgate Park

After this brief respite from the noise and fumes from trucks and delivery vans, I found remnants of the short-lived Webb Dock railway line. This was opened in 1986 and intended to service the significant port facilities in the area.

Former Webb Dock Railway 3

Former Webb Dock Railway 2

Unfortunately, the railway was closed in 1996 to make way for the Docklands redevelopment. There have been various plans to reopen the line over the past few decades, and one of the signs from one of these ill-fated attempts still remains at the corner of Wharf and Todd Roads. Although I don’t think that the phone number on the sign works anymore.

All up, an interesting experience walking around an area that will soon be making way for significant urban redevelopment.

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