Photos from ten years ago: November 2008

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is November 2008.

Checking the progress of the Geelong Ring Road seems to be an ongoing theme, and it comes up again this month.

Cutting headed up to Barrabool Road

I also paid a visit to what is now the site of Waurn Ponds station, where I photographed a freight train headed back from the Blue Circle cement works.

A85 returns light engine from the Waurn Ponds cement works

This traffic was lost to rail in December 2015, and the area in the background has dramatically changed, with overpasses for Anglesea Road and Baanip Boulevard having been built over the tracks.

Another project underway in 2008 was the new concourse at the city end of North Melbourne station, which was starting to look like a ‘real’ station.

New passenger shelters in place

The escalators were in place.

Escalators in place and roof supports underway

But the roof was still to come.

Up top of the new concourse, lift wells evident

One could argue that given how useless the shelters are, they needn’t have bothered.

A different project that was finished was Southern Cross Station, where I photographed the future platforms 15 and 16.

Future platform 15/16

Stranded minus track, the platform also lacked any access points from the overhead concourse.

Deck to nowhere, for access to future platform 15/16

Originally intended for use by an airport rail link, a year later the platform became the site of the sod turning for the Regional Rail Link project, which commissioned the platforms, which opened to trains in December 2013.

September 2008 saw the decision made to run 7-car long trains to Geelong, which required platform extensions to be built at stations along the way, including North Melbourne.

Work on the extension of platform 5/6 to permit 7 car Vlocity consists

But the work wasn’t able to be completed in time for the first 7-car train, so an extra conductor had to ride each service to ensure that passengers didn’t step out into the ether.

Signage at Marshall for the 7 car train, the South Geelong platform is not finished

These longer trains continued to run until June 2015, when Geelong trains commenced using the new Regional Rail Link tracks and the last remaining 2-car VLocity trains were converted into 3-car units.

Up in Melbourne the new ‘Bumblebee’ trams from France had entered service.

A few minutes later, C2.5113 'Bumblebee 2' on route 96 at Bourke and Swanston

They are still ‘buzzing’ around Melbourne today, but in the standard white and green PTV livery.

While up at Albury the final broad gauge train ran, clearing the way for the conversion of the line to standard gauge.

I am sure everyone on the trip has a photo just like this...

I rode in style onboard the train made up of carriages built in 1937 for the Spirit of Progress.

Dining Car set up for the evening

And we had plenty of train spotters along the way taking photos.

Congestion at the photo line

Photo line on the bridge

V/Line services to Albury eventually returned in June 2011 but never in a dependable way, with a combination of poor track and failing rolling stock turning it a political football.


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

How did the horse cross the road?

On Fellmongers Road in the Geelong suburb of Breakwater there is what seems to be a normal set of pedestrian lights.

Traffic lights on Fellmongers Road to allow horses to cross the road

But if you take a closer look, you’ll realise that the crossing doesn’t lead anywhere.

Traffic lights on Fellmongers Road to allow horses to cross the road

And the push buttons are located at head hight.

Unique high level lamp and push button to allow horse riders to cross Fellmongers Road

And there is an extra ‘don’t walk’ light mounted above it.

Unique high level lamp and push button to allow horse riders to cross Fellmongers Road

But the reason for the crossing and extra equipment is visible if you look over the fence on the other side – Geelong Racecourse is next door.

Grandstands at Geelong Racecourse viewed from Fellmongers Road

The traffic lights were provided in the 1990s to allow strappers to bring horses to and from the off-track stables complex located at Haworth Court.

Unique high level lamp and push button to allow horse riders to cross Fellmongers Road

A safety audit in 2007 saw the Geelong Racing Club discontinue use of the traffic lights, with horses being moved by horse float instead. The pedestrian lights are still in place, but the special push buttons for horses have been decommissioned.

History of the Haworth Court stables

The Haworth Court stable complex was completed in 1984 by the Geelong Regional Commission with four tenants occupying 40 horse boxes, the site was taken over by the Geelong Racing Club in 1985, and later expanded to 90 boxes across five stables.

The lack of easy access to the racecourse combined with the aging facilities led to a 2012 proposal for a new on-track training complex. The stables were sold in 2014, with funds from the sale to be used to build new on-course stables.

A sewer related footnote

The path between the stables and the racetrack is located atop Geelong’s main outfall sewer.

And a note of traffic lights

The Data.Vic directory has an item titled ‘Traffic Signal Configuration Data Sheets for Victoria‘.

“In VicRoads these are known as OP SHEETS. The op sheets are the operational design criteria for the traffic signals across Victoria, Each traffic signal requires this information for signal phasing. These can be used with the Traffic Signal Volume Data and the Turning Movement Volume Surveys for site performance reports or intersection redesign.”

Here is the relevant ‘Op Sheet’ for the pedestrian crossing on Fellmongers Road:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride a Melbourne tram

On 18 October 2018 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were visiting Melbourne, with Yarra Trams part of the flurry of activity by taking them on a tram ride down to South Melbourne Beach.

Photo by AFP / Getty Images via Daily Mail

Two B2 class trams were specially prepared at Brunswick Depot for the overseas guests, being stripped of advertisements and then transferred via Swanston Street to South Melbourne Beach, lead by a Victoria Police escort.

Victoria Police lead B2.2020 and B2.2088 on the royal tram transfer to South Melbourne at Swanston and Collins Street

With Victoria Police officers hiding onboard.

Victoria Police officers onboard tram B2.2088 on the transfer to South Melbourne

And tailed by a Yarra Trams operation crew.

B2.2088 on transfer to South Melbourne at Swanston and Collins Street

To make way for the circus, passengers on route 1 trams were getting turfed off at the corner of Park and Clarendon Street.

B2.2115 on route 1 terminates at Park and Clarendon Street due to the royal tram ride down at South Melbourne

Trams were then turned back towards the city.

B2.2115 on route 1 terminates at Park and Clarendon Street due to the royal tram ride down at South Melbourne

With Yarra Trams failing to provide a replacement service, or even acknowledge the reason why the trams were not running.

Notice that route 1 tram are terminating at Park and Clarendon Street

Some people get all the luck!

Photo by Getty Images via Daily Mail

Ian Green on Vicsig has a photo of tram B2.2088 and entourage headed through South Melbourne bound for the route 1 terminus.

A note on the trams selected

You might think that if you were taking a visitor to Melbourne on a tram ride, you’d choose an ‘iconic’ W class.

W8.959 westbound outside Flinders Street Station

Or the pride of the fleet – the brand new E class.

E.6001 outside Southern Cross Station

But Yarra Trams served up a piece of the 1980s – the high floor B2 class.

B2.2027 heads west on route 75 at Swanston and Flinders Street

The trams selected were pretty long in the tooth – B2.2088 did the honours carrying the royal pair and was 26 years old, while backup tram B2.2020 was even older, at 29 years of age.

So why did those two get picked?

B2.2020 was one of the early B2 class trams to pass through the $21 million B2 class tram life extension project, so was withdrawn from service on 16 October to receive a spit and polish, while tram B2.2088 was withdrawn from service in March 2018 to receive the same treatment, and was so ‘factory fresh’ to carry the royal pair.

A summary of the upgrades received can be seen here.

And Melbourne’s other royal tram

For her 2011 Melbourne visit Queen Elizabeth also rode on a Melbourne tram – a specially painted Z3.158.

Cliché shot at Royal Park: a Siemens train passes over Z3.158

Maybe high floor trams were selected on both occasions to give the assembled crowds a better view of the famous passenger?

Aircraft hangars at Avalon Airport

Avalon Airport is located north of Geelong and has six empty aircraft hangars, but I’ve only ever been able to find five of them. So why were they built, and where is the other hangar?

Looking down on Avalon Airport from the north

The backstory

In 1952 the Commonwealth Government bought 1,754 hectares (4,333 acres) at Avalon to enable the expansion of the Government Aircraft Factories, which had outgrown their previous facilities at Fisherman’s Bend in inner Melbourne, due to the existing airstrip being too small to enable the operation of modern jet aircraft.

The English Electric Canberra light bomber was the first product to come off the production line.

Canberra bomber A84-232 grounded outside the entrance to the Avalon Airport maintenance area

Followed by the CA-27 Sabre, Mirage III and F/A-18 jet fighters.

RAAF CA-27 Sabre climbs into the sky

These aircraft were assembled in a series of four hangars on the northern side of the airport.

National Archives of Australia item 30281903

Later rebranded as Aerospace Technologies of Australia (ASTA), in 1988 Avalon Airport branched out into the heavy maintenance of passenger jets, following the construction of a new hangar on the other side of the main taxiway.

Big enough to fit a Boeing 747 inside, the 8056m² hangar was completed in 22 weeks, and was big enough to fit an entire Boeing 747-400 aircraft inside, thanks to the 94 metre clear span, 85.7 metre length, 29 metre apex height and 6 metre eave height.

Photo via Bruno Gatzka

While in 1991 an increase in business saw hangar 5 extended to accommodate Boeing 747 aircraft.

Given a very tight 12 week construction period, Leighton Contractors met the challenge to upgrade the Hangar 5 maintenance facility at Avalon Airport in time to receive its first scheduled Boeing 747 aircraft. The work on Hangar 5 at Avalon included expanding the hangar space by about 2,000 m2 to a total of 9,000 m2.

Included in the contract were:

– 1,400 m 2 of concrete foundations, infill slabs and jacking pads to take the weight of a Boeing 747.
– 300 tonnes of structural steel for the roof and support structures.
– 60 tonnes of structural steel for the 800 m2 mezzanine floor.
– 4,900 m2 of roof and wall cladding.

The 21 metre extension at the front of the building was assembled on the ground in four sections, complete with electrical, mechanical, lighting and fire detection equipment. A 400 tonne hydraulic crane, one of only two in Australia at the time, took four days to lift the structure into place.

Which dramatically changed the look of the hangar.

Hangar 5 at Avalon, used for Qantas maintenance work

In 1995 ASTA was privatised by the Commonwealth Government, with Avalon Airport following in 1997 when a 50-year lease was awarded to Linfox.

Enter Qantas

In 1998 Qantas opened a heavy maintenance facility at Avalon Airport, operating from the only two hangars big enough to fit a 747 – hangars 5 and 6.

Kissing cousins at Avalon Airport

Otherwise they needed to keep the hangar door open!

Photo by Pat Scala / The Age

But they were soon in need of more space, so in 2003 Qantas also extended hangar 4 to accommodate bigger aircraft, bringing the complex to what it looks like today.

Looking down on the hangar complex at Avalon Airport

In 2012 Qantas announced that it would be reducing its maintenance operations in Australia, and closed their operations at Avalon in March 2014.

So which hangar is which?

The Avalon Airport aerodrome chart doesn’t help – it lists four big hangars along the taxiway, an even bigger hangar on the eastern side, and a little dinky hangar at the bottom – six in total.

Hangar 6 is the big one.

VH-EBU 'Nalanji Dreaming' stored outside Hangar 6 at Avalon

And hangar 4 and 5 have the tall extensions to the front.

Qantas 747-400ER VH-OEJ outside the hangar at Avalon Airport after heavy maintenance

But what about hangars 1 through 3?

The Avalon Airport Master Plan dated 2015 gave me a clue:

Avalon contains six hangars, three of which are suitable for the Boeing 747 and other smaller aircraft (Hangars 4, 5 and 6).

Hangar 1 is suitable for aircraft such as the Boeing 737, Hangar 2 is approximately 2,000 square metres and is used as a component workshop or store, and Hangar 3 is currently used as a store

That places hangar 1 as the northern-most hangar.

Hangar 1 beside the tiny hangar 2 at Avalon

But I finally found the answer in an Avalon Airport submission to Infrastructure Victoria.

So ‘hangar’ 2 is just a tin shed, with the hangars numbered 2, 1, 3, 4 then 5. Simple!

Footnote: the jumbo jet lurking in the background

She is ex-Qantas 747-300 VH-EBU ‘Nalanji Dreaming’.

Qantas 747-300 VH-EBU "Nalanji Dreaming" stored beside hangar 6

Delivered to Qantas in 1985 and painted into the ‘Nalanji Dreaming’ livery in 1995, she was put into long term storage at Avalon Airport in 2005. Since stripped of parts, then repainted into a plain livery of blue body with red tail in 2008, it is now used as a movie set, with the exterior repainted into plain white with ‘Avalon Airport’ branding in 2016.

The car park that ate Footscray

When you take a look at the street network of Footscray, everything looks much like many other inner Melbourne suburbs – a network of narrow streets lined by terrace houses. But if you take a close look next door to the Footscray Park campus of Victoria University, you’ll see something quite different.

It’s a sea of car parking.

The car park has spread south from the university campus on Ballarat Road.

Building 'D' at the Footscray Park campus of Victoria University

And then taken over the adjoining neighbourhood.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

The original street network still remains, complete with footpaths and streetlights.

Peter Street used to be lined with houses, now just a car park

And cul-de-sacs.

David Street, Footscray is a dead end surrounded by the Victoria University car park

But bollards and ticket machines have replaced the houses.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

Except for a handful of holdouts who refuse to sell.

David Street used to be lined with houses, now just a car park

The three remaining houses are easily spotted when the land titles of the area are examined.

Much like the nail houses of China.

5 David Street, Footscray is still a house - for now

These houses of Footscray have car parks either side.

2 Federal Street, Footscray used to be a house - since demolished

And across the back fence.

5 David Street, Footscray is still a house - for now

Houses along Geelong Road are still being acquired to expand the car park.

Another house on David Street demolished to make room for a car park

With no block too small to turn over to parked cars.

Car parks have replaced houses on David Street

But the residents of Federal Street are yet to fall victim to the advancing cars.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

So where to next?

In 2015 the northern edge of the car park was closed to make room for the ‘[email protected]’ student accommodation complex.

'UniLodge@VU' student accommodation complex under construction

With work starting on sealing the rest of the gravel car park.

Rebuilding the gravel car park at Footscray University

But with high density development of Footscray taking off, replacement of the car park by more apartments is the most likely outcome.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

Or it was, until the October 2018 announcement that the State Government would spend $1.5 billion to build a new Footscray Hospital on the car park site.

Footscray’s crumbling hospital would be rebuilt opposite Victoria University’s Footscray Park campus under a $1.5 billion election pledge by the state government.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that a returned Labor government would fund a new 504-bed hospital that could accommodate an extra 20,000 emergency department admissions and 15,000 patients each year.

The new hospital would be built on the corner of Geelong and Ballarat Roads, a site chosen from a shortlist of three locations including the current hospital site on Eleanor Street.

Construction would begin with two years and the hospital would be open by 2025.

But will the slow and infrequent route 82 tram be upgraded to cater for the extra passengers – I doubt it!


In 2017 Stephanie Convery also wrote about the car park at Victoria University:

At Victoria University in Melbourne, where I worked, car parks have slowly swallowed entire blocks of residential properties save for one or two isolated outposts; in one case, a house, a shed and a garden surrounded on three sides by a vast concrete wasteland, divvied up for hire at $10 an hour. Handwritten signs hang on the fence, chastising users for noise, rubbish, graffiti. Part of me can’t imagine who would want to continue to live with such inhospitable surroundings – a sentiment I’m sure developers exploit as often as possible – but another part of me thinks, if this place were the product of my hard labour, if this was where I had made my home, I probably wouldn’t want to leave it either.