Harbour heroes at work in Docklands

A smiling person standing in front of a sunny urban harbour

Superyachts, seabins and Salvatore the celebrity seal are all in a day’s work for our waterways team members, who are based on the harbour’s edge at Docklands. 

Waterways operations coordinator Elissa Howard loves the variety of her role, and working outdoors.  

This week, she’s been in oil spill emergency management training, wading out in Williamstown to deploy booms and skimmers used in spill clean-ups.  

‘An average day in my job would start with a site walk to check boat lines and look for any maintenance or safety issues that need to be actioned, and to provide assistance to guests and tenants,’ Elissa said. 

‘It’s great to engage with the boat owners around the long-term berths at Yarra’s Edge Marina, the day and short-term moorings in Melbourne City Marina, and in our guest lounge. 

‘Christmas and New Year are some of our busiest times, with people mooring boats to enjoy the fireworks. Many guests come from down the coast at Martha’s Cove, and superyachts come from interstate for the summer.’ 

For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to own a superyacht, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy Melbourne’s waterways, like dragon boating, fishing, and dining by the harbour. 

The history and heritage of Docklands is closely connected to its waterways, and Elissa brings together local stakeholders to facilitate more opportunities for people to enjoy the water and share these experiences with others.  

She recently met with a Docklands kindergarten that is looking to set up a “river kinder” program for kids growing up in apartments. 

‘Three of the main clubs that use the harbour are the Docklands Yacht Club, the Melbourne Outrigger Canoe Club and the Dragon Boat Victoria. There’s dragon boat training every night of the week,’ Elissa said. 

‘All of these clubs offer come-and-try days for the community, and team-building sessions. 

‘We also encourage fishing. There are greats spots along Newquay Promenade and in front of Library at the Dock, and there’s new fishing infrastructure in the works. One local even caught an 80-centimetre snapper.’ 

Another key focus for the waterways team is controlling litter. They coordinate different contractors to clean up waste, and work alongside the Yarra River Keeper to educate the community about waterway health. 

‘Major weather events cause a lot of waste to collect in the harbour – we see it a lot as we are the bottommost catchment,’ Elissa said 

‘For every millimetre of rainfall over 10 millimetres, we expect to see 1 tonne of waste in the water. This is a great reminder for all Melburnians to dispose of waste mindfully.

‘We have special traps and Seabins to collect some of this litter, which helps with the overall cleanliness of the marina, and we deploy large waste booms when weather events are forecast. 

‘We are also working with the water sensitive design team on a research program to help make stormwater storage more efficient.’ 

10 ways to enjoy the waterways 

1. Star-spot at the superyacht marina.
Find a new favourite fishing spot.
3. Have a go at dragon boating.
4. Hire an Aqua Donut for a floating barbecue.
5. Kayak by twilight.
6. Spend time with friends on a GoBoat.
7. Take a waterside yoga or pilates class run by The Centre.
8. Look out for dolphins and Melbourne celebrity Salvatore the seal (Elissa once saw him with a fish in his mouth).
9. Check out the Making Waves Foundation, which runs sailing experiences for young people with disability.
10. Keep an eye on the restoration of the historic Alma Doepel tall ship.

For more information about berthing, our heritage fleet, waterway health and more, visit Boating and waterways. 

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