The 21st Century has seen several changes to the Mornington Pier.
Gone are the large fleet of commercial fishing vessels. The vessels that now have moorings on the pier include: Plover – the heart of Bay Fish N Trips (tourism transportation either fishing or cruising), Sabrina – the vessel used by Bay Sea Farms (commercial mussel farming) and the Hellas – formerly a commercial fishing vessel but now used solely by its owner for recreational purposes.
In the early years you could often see the multiple versions of Wild Thing, the super maxi yachts that sailed annually in the Sydney to Hobart Race gaining lines honour with the 98 footer in 2003. Mild Thing (pun on its mooring mate), an old fishing trawler was the “men’s shed” for her owner and his friends who met most afternoons for a beer. Always kept in good working order she was used to go fishing in Bass Strait every year. Sail Mornington (owned by yours truly) was established in 2002 with the yacht Grace. This business was moved to Yeppoon, Queensland in 2003 where it was renamed Sail Capricornia.
In 2010 Parks Victoria began the mammoth task of renovations that the Mornington Pier desperately needed. The outer section was deemed “condemned” and left to rot further while the middle section was pylons and given a new concrete retaining wall as well as a new concrete deck. Mother Nature hampered this construction and funds were used up. It would be several more years before “What to do with the outer section?” was even considered. In 2013 the value of the Mornington Pier was recognised and funding became available to finish the reconstruction. The condemned section was replaced with new steel pylons as well as extended another 10 meters in length and reconnected to the middle structure. The concrete wave wall now continues the piers entire outer length and there is a new lower landing. Although construction took many more months to finish, the Mornington Pier is an impressive structure and one of the best accessible piers in Australia. Sensational! She lights up like a spaceship at night with the thousands of blue and white LEDs. During the day it’s the sheer size of the pier plus the strength of wood, concrete and steel that gives visitors a sense of security. It is sure to last another 150 years.
Cruise Ships have become a new tourist market to Mornington and the Mornington Peninsula. The large vessels anchor off shore and the thousands of guests are transported to the lower landing on the Mornington Pier by tenders. In recent times the local council have been rearranging the carpark to cater for these new tourists town.
Every year the Mornington Pier is the central point for an annual fireworks display. Thousands of people amass on the shoreline or in boats to watch the Australia Day celebrations pyrotechnics.
Since its construction back in 1858, the pier has been hammered by many storms. The most recent memorable was in 2008. The Mornington Pier and the harbour were belted by winds up to 120 kph with 25 of the 50 vessels in the harbour blown off their moorings. More recently when the reconstruction was taking place in 2013 another storm (with winds of cyclonic intensity) struck the pier blowing heavy machinery around and blowing equipment into the bay.
Whether it is to take a stroll on the promenade, sit and watch the world go by, eat an ice cream or fish ‘n chips, drop a line in and try your luck to catch a fish, moor your own boat or take a trip on the Plover, the Mornington Pier is a fabulous structure and accessible to all.
(Source: Bay Fish N Trips Pty Ltd)