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Town Hall, 333 Bay Street, Port Melbourne
Town Hall, 333 Bay Street, Port Melbourne

The CSIRO in Port Melbourne

This post is a fragment of a huge story. Fishermans Bend has a very strong association with science and innovation and their application to industry and manufacturing. CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, was a very significant presence in Port until the eighties.

In 1938, CSIR as it was then known, leased 5.9 hectares of land at Fishermans Bend from the Government. At one time, CSIRO employed over 600 people at Fishermans Bend. Even though CSIRO acquired the Clayton site in 1959, the move from Port Melbourne was gradual. With the Fishermans Bend site too small to accommodate CSIRO’s range of research activities, from 1964 the CSIRO Minerals Division moved to the former BALM Paint factory at 399 Williamstown Road. It was only vacated in 1989.

former BALM Paint Factory
399 Williamstown Road, formerly the Minerals Divison of CSIRO


‘The research of the Minerals Division was directed towards assisting the development of new, and the improvement of existing methods of mineral processing through the application of continually developing expertise in physical and inorganic chemistry related to minerals. This scientific base enabled it to advance to to technology in areas such as environment and energy.’ (Commonwealth Government Directory, Vol 2, 1985)

Tantalising snippets of discoveries, innovation and scientific leadership have been gleaned from casual web searches such as ‘The 1990 system, a Cray Research Supercomputer Y-MP 2/216, was housed in Port Melbourne and managed by Leading Edge Technologies, which used a share of the system for seismic data processing.’

CSIRO was also a local employer. Just this morning, taking these photos on Williamstown Road I met a man whose father used to be a carpenter at CSIRO. His father never owned a car, since work was just over the road.
There must be many people who worked for  CSIRO in Port Melbourne and it would be great to hear from them.

Sources and further information
BALM, Art Deco Buildings
Encyclopedia of Australian Science


  • Evelyn Dark
    Posted July 8, 2018 8.54 pm 0Likes

    I worked at CSIRO Port Melbourne in the late 60’s I was the Receptionist and met husband who was a R.S, next year we have been married 50 years.

    • Janet Bolitho
      Posted July 9, 2018 10.43 am 0Likes

      Thanks Evelyn an congratulations on your long partnership begun at CSIRO. What area did you both work in?

  • Robert Bell
    Posted October 22, 2019 2.55 pm 0Likes

    I was involved in the acquisition and running of the Cray Y-MP in Port Melbourne from 1990 to 1992 – some more information is at

    Rob. Bell.

  • Ken Ho-Le
    Posted September 26, 2020 12.33 pm 0Likes

    I worked for Leading Edge Technologies as the System Administrator

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We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.