About the Williamstown Maritime Association
The WMA was established in 2004 after the failure of an earlier attempt to create a Maritime Museum at the former Port of Melbourne Authority site. Aware of rumours it might be developed into apartments, the Shenandoah Society, a small band of maritime enthusiasts under the leadership of Leigh Goodall, met to discuss holding a wooden boat show at the site.
Parks Victoria agreed, and a small club room was set up in the large shed. Regular meetings began and enthusiasm grew. Every weekend would see mountains of rubbish removed from the site, with much work made possible by the generosity of the late Michael Kennedy’s plumbing firm, as well as many other local firms and individuals.
The first Boat Show was held in March 2004, and was an unqualified success, attracting over 17,000 attendees. See Heritage Boat Show 2004 for information and images of the beautiful boats that were displayed. The show was a real achievement for that small band of volunteers, and soon the idea grew of setting up the WMA to preserve the site as a working Maritime Precinct.
Then-Premier Steve Bracks gave his endorsement, and encouraged Parks Victoria to formulate a memorandum of understanding with the new WMA. To this day the WMA still promotes the vision set out a decade ago for the development of the site. Our aims and objectives are as relevant today as they were then.
To raise more funds for the site, the WMA transformed the derelict plumbers and electricians shed into a fully licensed Pirates Tavern in time for the very successful second boat show in March 2005. The Tavern was built entirely by volunteers and has been the catalyst for raising over one hundred thousand dollars for improving the site. The windows of the shed on Nelson Place were built and installed, along with the re-instatement of water and power to Workshops Pier. Another major effort was the refurbishment of the old ablutions block.
The WMA were the pioneers in promoting Tall Ships to come to Williamstown by providing facilities on Workshops Pier and actively promoting such visits. Since 2008 the Seaworks Foundation have taken over responsibilty for work on the site which has allowed the WMA to concentrate on improving the Tavern. Much has been accomplished with new interior bathrooms, new servery and coolroom facilities, and cooling and heating.
The WMA is proud of its history from such humble beginnings and will continue to promote its vision for the site as a major Victorian tourist attraction.