The Port of Melbourne is intimately linked to the history and development of the city itself. The Port has remained Victoria’s link to global shipping routes since the inception of the City of Melbourne over 180 years ago. Technological advances and transformations since the days of sail and from the introduction of containerisation more than 40 years ago have seen the Port evolve into Australia’s busiest freight hub.
As far back as the 1950s Webb Dock was identified as a site to handle Melbourne’s shipping growth. It commenced operations mainly to transport cargo and motorists to and from Tasmania, and evolved to become a major automotive terminal for the export and import of cars. International container handling at Webb Dock was an essential feature for many years up until the 1990s. The dock is named in honour of former Melbourne Harbor Trust commissioner J. P. Webb OBE. See also: Webb Dock history fact sheet [PDF].
Explore the Port – past, present and future – with interactive maps.
Today, the Port of Melbourne provides a vital link for business, industry and agriculture across Australia's south east. The Port is also the hub for cargo moving between Tasmania and the mainland and a thriving export market. Indirectly supporting more than 15,000 jobs and annually handling in excess of $82 billion dollars in imports and exports, the Port of Melbourne is the trade gateway for south east Australia.
The Port of Melbourne handles more than a third of the nation’s container trade. In the 2011-12 financial year, container trade at the Port reached an Australian record 2.58 million containers, an average of about 7000 containers every day. Each year more than 3,300 ship visits are made to the Port. Flow-on benefits from the Port’s operations are significant for the Victorian economy, with the Port creating employment opportunities for thousands of people and promoting growth in business and trade. The Port also delivers a healthy financial return to the State. See also: Port trade fact sheet [PDF].
The Port of Melbourne is also Australia's largest automotive port handling more than 350,000 vehicles annually. The areas surrounding the Port of Melbourne also house and support many vehicle parts manufacturers, importers and specialist businesses. Nearby, Toyota, Holden and Ford and other car makers rely on the Port - especially for exporting their Australian made vehicles and parts to world markets. See also: Automotive fact sheet [PDF].
Melbourne's container handling milestones.
By 2025 Port of Melbourne is predicted to be handling about 5 million containers a year.
As trade has steadily increased in line with population growth and customer demand, the Port has continued to evolve alongside the City of Melbourne. In the 2011-12 financial year, the Port handled 2.58 million containers and this is forecast to double over the next 10 to 12 years. To ensure the Port can accommodate growing trade demands into the future, the Port of Melbourne Corporation is expanding Melbourne's port capacity. This Project along with the Victorian Government's proposed development of the Port of Hastings delivers the facilities needed to satisfy container trade growth. As part of a long-term planning approach, the Port continues to deliver major capital projects that continue to improve operations and productivity through innovation, more efficient technology, terminal upgrades and development.
Container trade through the Port of Melbourne has consistently grown at a compound rate of around 6% p.a. In the latter quarter of 2011, the Port posted consecutive monthly trade records accelerating the demand for additional container capacity. Importers, exporters and shipping lines agree that without additional capacity Victoria will lose its economic advantage. Industry forecasts confirm that without additional capacity in around 4 to 5 years the Port will experience congestion and potentially lose business. See also: Expanding Australia's economic gateway [PDF].
To protect the economic future of the Port as a major trade gateway, the Port of Melbourne Corporation is embarking on a redevelopment of the Port that provides additional opportunities for capacity expansion of the existing terminals and creates a third container facility at Webb Dock. The Project also provides direct connections from Webb Dock to Melbourne's M1 West Gate Freeway streamlining the movement of containers to and from the Dock.
Scheduled for completion in 2016, the Project provides the capacity needed to satisfy the short to medium term trade demands as well as providing opportunities for improved productivity across the Port and a strong foundation for the State's long term trading future.