Janelle Donnelly, General Manager at the Port of Melbourne Corporation,  responsible of the port city interface, send us recently an interesting documentation on their public port tours that represent the largest single direct community engagement activity undertaken by PoMC to date.

© Port of Melbourne

The Melbourne public embraced boat tours of Australia’s largest container and general cargo port in late 2012. Over 3,000 people of all ages from across Melbourne attended thirty one-hour boat tours of the port precinct, held by strategic port manager Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC).

Strong interest
Community Relations Manager Jenny Bygrave said it was clear the community has a strong interest in the port. “Some people travelled over 200 kilometres to attend the tours – which even for a large country like Australia, is a huge distance to travel for a one-hour boat ride,” said Ms Bygrave.

The public gazed at portainer cranes, straddle cranes and container loading and unloading, at the container terminal during the tours, run in Australia’s warm summer months across three weekends in November and December.

Increasing understanding
Surveys showed that the tours were highly effective in increasing the public’s understanding of the port.  “Eighty-eight (88%) of passengers either ‘Agreed’ or ‘Strongly Agreed’ that the tours had increased their knowledge of the Port of Melbourne” said Ms Bygrave. The surveys showed that the general public is most interested in hearing more about the history of the Melbourne’s port, which has been part of the city since the 1850s. The surveys also revealed an appetite for information on the port’s transport system and port’s development plans.

“In increasing general understanding of the port, we hope to build community goodwill which will help us start the conversation about Melbourne’s identity as a port city,” said Ms Bygrave.

Linking PoMC staff with the community
Seventeen port staff from across PoMC, including engineers, environmental scientists and the information technology team provided their time and knowledge at the tours which greatly enhanced the experience for attendees.  Some staff even dressed as ‘Nemo the fish’ and other maritime-themed costumes!

Comments from surveys

  • “Thanks! I can now answer the children’s questions about what’s in those boxes and where they are going confidently.
  • Great commentary, loved the info about life on board container ships, analogy with Bunnings stores etc, very practical and enjoyable demonstration how the port influences us.
  • This was well advertised, I saw it multiple times in multiple venues so expect it to go well.
  • Excellent speaker. Spoke clearly intelligently and INTERESTINGLY. All crew were friendly. Thank you. Wonderful.
  • Very interesting tour – hope you keep running them.
  • Being a great Aussie port. Thank you so much – loved the costumes.
  • Good to see the POMC improvement with the community including these tours.
  • A great opportunity to see the workings of the dock that we drive past daily.
Melbourne: Port tours set the foundations for a port-city conversation
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