Change on foot in Victoria Harbour

The prominent Lady Cutler Melbourne Showboat has been relocated to North Wharf by the Melbourne City of Docklands waterways team amid “major upgrades” to the Harbor Esplanade passenger terminal.

The changes to the busy Harbor Esplanade terminal have long been discussed by the council, and the new mooring infrastructure at Australian Wharf is expected to welcome many of Docklands’ charter boat operators soon.

The council says that as peak season approaches, the Harbor Esplanade terminal would require all four berths due to increased services, charter fleet and number of ships “from all over Melbourne”.

Now that the new charter infrastructure has been implemented at Australian Wharf, a council spokesman said charter boat passenger transfers would relocate to Harbor Esplanade, away from local residents.

Port Phillip Ferries (PPF) is expected to open in August and has built a new passenger terminal and community hub at Harbor Esplanade, allowing passengers to commute between Melbourne, Geelong and Portarlington. The project is being delivered in collaboration with Development Victoria and the City of Melbourne.

The council has also proposed naming the wharf and pontoons at Harbor Esplanade “Yanonung Quay” – a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrun word meaning “waterways”.

But the Lady Cutler‘s operator and Melbourne Passenger Boating Association president Jeff Gordon said: Docklands News that the permanent move to North Wharf near the heritage fleet “would have major implications for our operation”.

“This is a death blow to our company. We are customers of the City of Melbourne and pay our port fees through the waterways team, but we don’t feel the team is backing us, or that our message isn’t getting through to senior decision makers,” said Mr Gordon.

A spokesman for the City of Melbourne said: Lady Cutlerwhich took up one of four berths and “reduces facility capacity” had been allowed to dock temporarily at Harbor Esplanade since it first notified Mr Gordon to move in January 2021.

“We are well aware of the challenges posed by limited capacity to dock vessels at key locations, including Harbor Esplanade,” said a council spokesman. “As we want to welcome more people and move back to Docklands with more ferry services, all four berths at the terminal are required.”

While Mr Gordon said he had long requested permission to dock his boat closer to NAB, the council said: “A technical survey indicated that the site near NAB is not a suitable site for docking due to the great size of the ship.” †