Culture and heritage

Why we love Fishermans Bend

14 September 2022

Fishermans Bend is synonymous with innovation and ingenuity, and steeped in manufacturing and industrial history. It is also Australia’s largest urban renewal project.

The country on which Fishermans Bend sits is rich with Aboriginal heritage and continuing cultural significance. Oral traditions record a time when the sea level rose and flooded the rich plain, creating what is now called Port Phillip Bay. Learn more at  Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne.

Fishermans Bend takes its contemporary name from the scattering of fishing folk that set up shacks near the water from the late 19th century.

General Motors Holden made its home in this industrial heartland from the 1930s. Global powerhouse Boeing followed soon after, and quickly became a crucial supplier for Australia’s air force, producing combat airplanes during the Second World War.

The Kraft Vegemite Factory set up in Fishermans Bend in the 1940s. In 2021, City of Melbourne preserved the intangible history of this site – the distinctive smell of Vegemite, which once wafted across the city from this factory – through a statement of significance.

A vintage vegemite van

Vegemite van, 1947. Photo: Lyle Fowler, State Library Victoria

Urban renewal

By 2050, Fishermans Bend will be home to about 80,000 residents and provide employment for up to 80,000 people, as well as study opportunities for 20,000 students.

The area for earmarked urban renewal sprawls over 480 hectares.

Our portion of Fishermans Bend is largely industrial, and wedged between the West Gate Bridge and the Yarra River – Birrarung. It already hosts 12,900 jobs (Clue Data 2020) across 512 businesses, and that’s set to grow.

The coming transformation is guided by the Victorian Government’s Fishermans Bend Framework.

It sets out a plan for parks, schools, roads, transport, community facilities and services that will ensure liveability over the next 30 years.

Artist's impression of urban renewal in Fishermans Bend

Artist’s impression: Fishermans Bend

There will be five precincts across the City of Melbourne and the City of Port Phillip: Two are within our municipality: Lormier and the National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

Lorimer Precinct will be a vibrant, mixed-use precinct close to the river, and connected to the CBD, Docklands and emerging renewal areas.

A high-tech, innovative cluster

The Fishermans Bend National Employment and Innovation Cluster is devoted to advanced manufacturing, engineering and design.

At 230 hectares, it is the largest precinct within the urban renewal area. This precinct celebrates risk-taking as an essential ingredient to innovation.

Industry giants are already well-established within the National Employment and Innovation Cluster, including Boeing and a research facility for the Department of Defence.

More high-tech enterprises will follow, including a new University of Melbourne campus for engineering and design.

In 2021 the Victorian Government announced a three-year $179.4 million funding package for the Fishermans Bend Innovation Precinct at the former General Motors Holden site, which sits within the cluster. This early investment will attract key organisations with a shared vision.

We have learnt from the early years of Docklands – before it was absorbed into the City of Melbourne.

In Fishermans Bend, we are establishing infrastructure early, planning ahead, and using geo-spatial technology to track and inform growth in the area over time.

Gateway to GMH

To create a place that attracts both innovation and people, we are partnering with the Victorian Government to plan, design and deliver the trial Gateway to GMH project, also in the old General Motors Holden site.

The Gateway to GMH project will plant more trees and build safer cycling paths on Turner Street. It will also improve off-road cycling conditions along Lorimer Street and connect north to River Esplanade.

We’ll also install new underground electrical services to connect innovative technologies like sensors and smart poles and support future innovation and public art.

What we learn during this pilot will feed into the longer-term transformation of the area.

A grassy verge in an industrial area

Turner Street, Fishermans Bend

To foster inventive thinking in Melbourne’s oldest innovation precinct, we recently invited thinkers and makers to take on the Fishermans Bend Innovation Challenge.

The challenge explored how emerging technology and data could help build resilience. The winning pilot, Recycled Material Raingardens, closes the loop on local waste by using hard waste to filter stormwater and reduce the risk of run-off.

To bring the community together, we recently opened the Gateway Hub in Shed 21 on Lorimer Street.

The hub hosts events such as Open House Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne Fashion Week, and tours. On Wednesdays at lunchtime, Padel and Bites offers a $5 game of padel tennis alongside food truck eats.

A food truck and an outdoor padel tennis court

Padel and Bites at Shed 21

A neighbourhood Future Melbourne Committee meeting will be held in Fishermans Bend on Tuesday 11 July 2023.

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