June 2012

Peter Harry, Head of Corporate Affairs, Port of Melbourne welcomed us to the Port’s Education Centre, where he gave us a brief overview of the Port and its activities.

This included the Port’s historical development and how it is both geographically and economically connected with Melbourne. Handling around 2.5 million containers annually, it is Australia’s largest container and general cargo port.

The port deals with clean trades including around 1,000 new motor vehicles daily. The Port of Melbourne has 34 commercial berths, including two modern purpose-built, four-berth international container terminals. Multi-purpose berths handle cargoes ranging from timber to motor vehicles, and there are specialised berths for dry cargoes, including cement, grain, sugar, fly ash and gypsum. Dedicated facilities are available for a variety of liquids such as molasses through to crude oil and petrochemicals, using the latest handling methods. The Port has a wharf length of 7 kilometres, and different berths handle different cargoes.

The Port of Melbourne Corporation solely manages the Port, it is not an operator, and they are available at any time to transport 24 international carriers. Peter then expained the trade flows, and the commodities involved in both exports and imports. Milk powder is one of the largest exports to Asia.

There is already a visible increase in the figures to March this financial year (both imports and exports). The drivers for this continued growth are the population increase, our increased rainfall (there is a correlation between the rainfall and grain containers), and the regional economic performance.

Peter then spoke on Port Phillip Bay, gateway to the Port. It was interesting to see the shipping routes, and to hear of the Bay’s good environmental health and as a recreational asset. For water sports and fishing the bay has 264 kilometres of coastline, it supports penguins, dolphins, seals, and 3 million people. We left to the Port’s Education Centre to travel by ferry around the Port. It was an interesting and informative afternoon, travelling to Williamstown and then back around the various docks, and disembarking at “Jeff’s Shed”. We saw many aspects of the Port’s operations, and despite being a cold day, the trip was most enjoyable.