The Westgate Punt operates between Spotswood Jetty, immediately in front of Scienceworks, and Westgate Landing in Fishermans Bend (irritatingly spelt without the apostrophe). During the week the Punt runs as a scheduled service but on weekends it runs on demand.
We waited a short while as the Punt approached the jetty from the Fishermans Bend side. Soon we were aboard, and ten minutes later we were cycling the short distance along the Bay Trail to Westgate Park.
Westgate Park is a marvel of reclamation. Originally part of the lower Yarra wetlands, the land had a variety of uses post-settlement, including, according to the Friends of Westgate Park, for horse and car racing and as a sand mine, aircraft runway and rubbish dump. In the 1970s the land was the site of a depot servicing the construction of the Westgate Bridge. Following the bridge’s opening in 1978 it was decided to turn what was a decided eyesore into a park, and in 1985 Westgate Park was officially opened. However, the park fell into decline over the next 15 years or so, and it was not until the early 2000s and the efforts of the Friends of Westgate Park that the park really began to take shape.
Today the park is a veritable oasis. It features a pleasant picnic area, a freshwater lake, a saltwater lake (which sadly has stopped turning pink seasonally) and bush tracks. There are many birdwatching opportunities.
All the more remarkable to think that Westgate Park lies in the heart of industrial Melbourne. The Westgate Freeway overspans the park’s southern boundary, with Webb Dock just south of the freeway; warehousing and light industry are sited immediately to the north, with Appleton and Swanson Docks located a little further north over the Yarra; the Yarraville Terminal fuel distribution depot is situated over the Yarra to the northwest. And a (very noisy) Go-Kart track is found alongside Todd Road, which marks the park’s eastern boundary. As we enjoyed our afternoon tea by Fresh Water Lake we were regaled by the high-pitched whine.
After an hour or so of tootling around and picnicking we cycled the short distance back to Westgate Landing to find the Punt waiting for us. The return trip across the Yarra afforded tremendous views of the architecturally interesting Newport Power Station. We disembarked at Spotswood Jetty and pedalled home.