News & Media

Re-berth for Melbourne’s historic Polly Woodside

Melbourne’s iconic tall ship Polly Woodside will move for the first time in 33 years when the refurbishment of her current home, the Duke’s Dry Dock, begins today. 
Major Projects Minister Theo Theophanous said the $13 million refurbishment of the dock and adjacent area as a maritime precinct will ensure the 1885 barque’s future as a tourist attraction and provide a new link to Melbourne’s seafaring heritage.
“The Polly Woodside is a Melbourne icon, beloved by generations of kids, tourists and tall ship aficionados alike,” Mr Theophanous said.
“The Brumby Government’s decision to fund the refurbishment of Duke’s Dry Dock creates an improved home for the Polly Woodside for many years to come. The dry dock, when in working order in the 1940s and 50s, sustained the barque during her time as a coal ship.”
Mr Theophanous said the refurbishment of the Duke’s Dock would provide the Polly Woodside with a vastly improved berth and would be a highlight of the public spaces around the new Melbourne Convention Centre.
“Duke’s Dock will be refurbished so it can once again function properly and allow the iron hull of the Polly Woodside to be periodically maintained. This work ensures the future of this historic ship and also restores the dock, itself a vital part of Melbourne’s maritime heritage,” he said.
“Duke’s Dock dates back to 1875 and is one of the few surviving relics of Melbourne’s extensive shipbuilding and repair industry that used to stretch along the Yarra’s Southbank from the Queens Street Bridge to Docklands.”
The Polly Woodside will be moved to a mooring on the nearby Yarra River to allow work to begin on the 107 metre long dock, before a temporary dam wall is built and the water is pumped out. A new dock wall, gates and base slab with keel supports for the ship will be built. The water will be once again drained to test the keel supports before the ship is finally refloated.
National Trust CEO Martin Purslow welcomed the refurbishment of Duke’s Dock and said he looked forward to welcoming visitors back to the Polly Woodside once she is reopened.
“We look forward to commencing work on the Polly Woodside to ensure she is maintained for future generations to enjoy,” Mr Purslow said.
The refurbishment forms part of the $1.4 billion Convention Centre development precinct taking shape at South Wharf. Work is expected to take around 10 months to complete.
The Brumby Government is providing $8.86 million for the refurbishment of Duke’s Dock while the Plenary Group and National Trust are providing $4 million for the works on the adjacent area and the Polly Woodside itself.
The Polly Woodside, built in 1885 and owned and operated by the National Trust of Australia (Vic), is one of the world most significant, surviving iron vessels afloat – a tangible reminder of Australia’s maritime history and an iconic feature of riverside Melbourne.