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The Graham Street Rockeries

This is the briefest beginning of stories associated with the Graham St overpass.

Before the West Gate Bridge was built, access to the other side of the river at Newport was via a ferry at the end of Williamstown Road.  The Graham Street overpass was built in the late 1970s in anticipation of the growing number of cars that would pass through Port Melbourne when the Bridge opened.

Graham was an extremely busy station at that time with freight and passenger trains leaving the railway gates closed for extended periods causing frustrating delays. Shunting caused even more exasperation. The overpass allowed the railway to continue to operate without interruption while traffic flowed across the top.

The construction of the overpass involved the demolition of a small community of shops, the Foresters Arms hotel and the rockeries – a gathering place. The Maskell and McNab memorial – now on the foreshore – was also located here, near the railway – in the service of which those men died.

Graham Street
Graham Street showing the Maskell and McNab memorial

It would be wonderful to hear your memories of that Williamstown ferry or if you recall life in Graham St before the overpass went in.

Sources and further references:

Grainger, P 2003 Railway Rockeries: Tales of the Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay Railway Reserves, Port Melbourne Port Melbourne Vic: Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society


  • Pamela
    Posted December 8, 2014 2.44 pm 0Likes

    I went to Graham Street Primary,i remember alway’s useing the underpass,going through the gates to cross,the guy’s shutting gate;s for train’s,the good old day’s

  • Nicolas Hermence
    Posted February 21, 2015 5.11 pm 0Likes

    Hi Janet,

    I lived in the Station Street Housing commission flats when the bridge was built,
    there were boom gates there and a horse trough on the right just before the park and the entrance to Graham Street Station.
    The last draw horse carts used to remove rubbish from the streets of Port Melbourne which stopped operating in 1972.This Trough was one of the stops where the horses use to drink at.
    There was a group of shops in Graham Street that was demolished and I can remember frolicking in the Shoe repair shop when it was demolished. I brought some old shoe trinkets home and my mum made me take them back.
    We played on the site and were forever being told to get off, when they started to tar the road we got up on the bridge on skateboards and bikes, only to be reprimanded to get off.
    It was a huge event in a child’s life. I also attended St Joseph’s Port Melbourne with Robert Bradley.
    regards, Nicolas Hermence

    • Janet Bolitho
      Posted February 21, 2015 6.34 pm 0Likes

      Hi Nicolas
      Sounds like you had a lot of fun! I am so interested in that period when the overpass went in. I wonder how long it took to build? They must also have needed to dismantle/demolish those station buildings. Your memories most gladly received.

  • Paula
    Posted September 9, 2015 5.17 pm 0Likes

    I came across this site as i was looking for information about the construction of the Graham Street bridge. My father is turning 80 and we are putting together a memory book for him. To this day every time we pass over or under the bridge he reminds me that he built that bridge. Makes me smile every time i pass it.

    • David Thompson
      Posted September 9, 2015 5.56 pm 0Likes

      Hi Paula,
      Thanks for visiting. It’s great that you have such a concrete connection to Port Melbourne … sorry that was very bad! Your comment raises so many questions. What is your father’s name? What was his role in the construction of the overpass? Are you still looking for information about that part of Port?

  • Reg Macey
    Posted November 1, 2019 3.15 am 0Likes

    Janet..On the opposite side of the Graham Street Railway gates from the group of shops and hotel you mentioned were a group of single fronted wooden homes that were compulsorily acquired and demolished. I can picture at least four….but I think more were involved.

    • Janet Bolitho
      Posted November 1, 2019 8.46 pm 0Likes

      Thank you Reg. It’s too easy to forget that houses and the people who lived in them had to make way for the overpass.

  • Russell Cox
    Posted March 28, 2020 10.34 pm 0Likes

    My father would drive the car onto the punt to get to Williamstown. He would let me get out of the car. I was scared of the deep water but I could see the chain just below. It was cold and the chains and engine would rattle as we crossed the water. Dad said drunks would drive straight into the river after the punt had closed for the night. I was about 11 years old in 1968.

  • Russell Cox
    Posted March 28, 2020 10.41 pm 0Likes

    Dad worked at Lever and Kitchen in Ingles Street in the office which was featured in the “The Block” he met my mother there in the office. He worked for Unilever his entire working life. He loved Port Melbourne. We couldn’t live there though. Then it wasn’t a very diserable location for a family

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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.