For all the history buffs out there, and even for those just a little curious about Victoria Harbour’s past, look no further – a brand-new free app has been launched offering a comprehensive, walking audio tour of the Docklands.
We decided to try it out for ourselves – here’s a rundown without any spoilers!
Kicking off the tour outside the Etihad Stadium in 2016, you are catapulted back in time to 1835 when the earliest European settlers first arrived in Melbourne. The app explains how growth was initially centred around the Yarra River, before spreading to the East. The Docklands to the west, on the other hand, was an expansive wetland called the West Melbourne Swamp – a far cry from the lively, clean waterside setting it is today.
The journey continues around the Docklands, via landmark Melburnian streets such as Collins and Bourke, all the while telling historical anecdotes about what life was like for the mariners, wharfiers, and locals living by the water in the 19th and early to mid-20th centuries. You’ll learn about the products that were exported to the rest of the world from Victoria Dock, helping to grow Australia’s fledgling economy, such as wool and pig iron. You’ll also hear about the difficult conditions that people had to work in, engineering breakthroughs that took place, and even the key role that the Docklands played in Britain’s World War One and Two efforts.
Towards the end of your journey back in time, the narrator tells us all about the urban renewal program that began in the Docklands back in the 1990s, bringing the area into the 21st century and making it a hub for commercial and social activity – and giving it its present-day modern identity.
As you walk from one stop to another, you learn more and more about this area’s richly unique history. Finishing up back at the Etihad Stadium, you’ll emerge feeling intrigued and more knowledgeable – and, if you’re anything like we were, you’ll be left wanting to find out even more.
There are a total of 25 stops, and each accompanying audio section gives you a bite-sized information chunk about that particular spot’s significance. The walk itself is 2.8 miles long and lasts around 1.5-2 hours depending on the speed you’d like to take.
Also included are four photo galleries looking back at 19th century photographs depicting scenes like historic ships or animal cargo. There’s even a list of further reading if your interest has been truly captivated.
For more information, simply head to the app store on your smartphone and download, free of charge, the ‘Docklands Walking Tours’ app. Then, just head down to Victoria Harbour on a sunny day and start your history lesson!