The Royal Jetty
Next time you have a cup of weak white tea (even though your preference
is for a strong espresso) with your grandmother, try reading the tealeaves.
There in the tea leaves you will find reference to QE2's first visit to
Australia. Well, not in the tealeaves as such but in the Royal Visit China
from which you are drinking. If you mention it to grandma she will quickly
retrieve the Royal Visit coffee table book and teaspoon complete with its
original packaging. This visit was highly significant. The first time a
reigning monarch of Australia deigned to set foot on the soil of their
Australian dominion was in the 1950s. This was at a landing on the Yarra
River. Some of you may be able to track down some photos or, better still,
ask grandma. The landing upon where the then young reigning deigning monarch
alighted from the lighter was a point of land near the base of the Bolte
During the 1990s you could walk along this neglected bank the river past
vessels used for night party cruises on the bay and which like most ladies
of the night did not show up too well under the cruel light of day, and on
to that original landing complete with several moored lighters. Nearby was a
control tower used by the port authorities (now replaced with one further
downstream) and a secluded Japanese Garden. This was one of our favourite
secluded places in Melbourne and the venue for a number of quiet picnics
with friends while we watched the passing river traffic.
The site fell into increasing disrepair with the abandoned goods sheds
presaging the current trend to green roofs with copious weed life sprouting
in their asbestos guttering.
The area is now closed off. Before long we expect it to be habited by
sophisticated, urbane young professionals who believe we are long overdue
for a republic and who have the latest designer items in their upmarket
apartments. It will be their children who discover great grandmaï¿½s bone
china and coffee table book and wonder about the location of the historic
spot where a reigning monarch first set foot on Victorian soil.
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Other articles in the series Seven Lost Icons of Melbourne:
The Royal Jetty