Published: 16 Dec 2021
Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
Fishermans Bend is changing. Fast.
The area has long been known as an industrial hub, particularly famous for manufacturing airplanes and cars. While businesses like these remain vitally important, a massive urban renewal project is transforming Fishermans Bend. It is creating a burgeoning local food and drink scene proudly led by new businesses like Colonial Brewing and Starward Whisky.
Colonial Brewing opened a beer hall and craft brewery on the site of the former Bertie Beetle Factory in 2015 and became a fast hit with locals.
“Being in the city was really important to us,” says Colonial Brewing team member Conor Marshall. “It allowed us enough room to brew and keep up with that demand that we now have.”
Fishermans Bend connects Melbourne’s centre to Port Philip Bay. It covers an impressive 480 hectares – almost three times the size of the CBD.
Thanks to its rich history as an industrial centre, the area is full of hidden streets and charming laneways – similar to what you’d expect to find in the heart of the city.
Like Colonial Brewing, the team behind Starward Whisky was drawn to Fishermans Bend, both for its proximity to the city and its future potential. They opened their distillery and bar there in 2016.
“Port Melbourne is really interesting at the moment,” said Head Distiller Sam Slaney.
“It’s so close to the city but it’s also a bit of an island. That idea of a tram route down the road is really exciting to us. The increase in residential housing in the area is really exciting as well, seeing more people come into the area.”
By 2050, the Fishermans Bend precinct is expected to be home to 80,000 people and 80,000 jobs. There are plans for improved transport connections to the CBD and essential services and retail options in vibrant inner-city neighbourhoods.
In the meantime, both Starward and Colonial Brewing have already begun connecting to the existing local community and business networks in and around Port Melbourne. They have even organised local events, including a beer festival and basketball tournament.
“The increase in residential in the area is really exciting, and seeing more people come into the area,” says Sam.
“We get a lot of regulars coming through, whether it be lunch during the week or after work drinks. All the team have great relationships with the regulars,” said Conor.
“A lot of people are unaware of Fishermans Bend and that it does actually have services to offer.
“The perception of it being so far away is shifting. It’s really just a seven-minute Uber drive from the city.”