Convict seawall to be saved

Geoff Dougall at the deteriorating Williamstown seawall. (Damjan Janevski) 210114_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

One of Williamstown’s most iconic pieces of convict history, the Point Gellibrand Seawall that Ned Kelly worked on, will be saved.

As reported by Star Weekly, maritime historian Geoff Dougall said the community was calling for the historic seawall to be preserved for future generations.

The Point Gellibrand Seawall was built from the 1850s to 1870s by convict labour from hulks moored offshore, he said.

“We believe, and we can virtually say with 100 per cent surety, that Ned Kelly did work on it as a labourer,“ Mr Dougall said.

“The wall protected one of the colony’s first roads, named aptly Battery Road, which ran between the two main colonial batteries set up to protect us from invasion, and the southerly gales which lash the beachfront.

“The bluestone was quarried from the convict quarry close by and had distinctive tally marks chiseled into a single bluestone when a certain quota was met.“

Cross marks on the bluestone are still visible to this day.

The road has since been renamed Bracks Boulevard and most of the retaining wall is no longer visible due to sand and overgrowth from bushes.

The state government last week announced consultants SMEC had been appointed to assess how to make the structure safe and functional.

Parks Victoria will work with Heritage Victoria to either repair or fully reconstruct the seawall, while SMEC will provide options and design concepts after geotechnical and structural investigations.

Williamstown MP Melissa Horne said the seawall’s preservation was a big win for Williamstown.

“Walking along the seawall has become a rite of passage for locals and visitors all year, especially on sunny days as they grab an ice cream or a coffee to enjoy the views,“ she said.

“Bringing SMEC on board brings us one step closer to starting works on this project, which will ensure visitors to the park can enjoy the area for years to come.

“This project to renovate the seawall and protect its heritage values is a big win for the Williamstown community.“

Work is expected to start next year.