STANDING SOLID: The newly refurbished Mildura Wharf has stood the test of time with its original red gum pylons still in good condition, and now the above water structure has been given a major facelift, leaving it looking brand new. Pictured is Mildura Councillor for Economic Development and Tourism, Mark Eckel, and Council’s Facilities Service Co-ordinator, Jason Kane. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

AFTER two months of work, the Mildura Wharf and Old Mildura Station Homestead Wharf refurbishment project is complete, with both wharves now in mint condition.

In what has been the biggest upgrade to the historic wharves since they were established more than 100 years ago, the project was undertaken by Adelaide company Maritime Constructions.

The company commenced works on the $600,000 project in June, with a major overhaul and facelift of both structures being carried out after inspections post the 2016 flood revealed a raft of structural and aesthetic works were required.

Mildura Councillor for Economic Development and Tourism, Mark Eckel, said that with the project complete, residents and visitors could enjoy the historic landmarks for decades to come.

“The Mildura Wharf and Homestead Wharf are iconic landmarks for our region. They’re lasting reminders of the formative years of our municipality when the riverfront trade was critical to Mildura’s growth and survival,” Cr Eckel said.

“As you can see the refurbishment is an absolutely brilliant job and it’s not before time. As far as the river is concerned, and Mildura as a tourist destination, the river boats are a prime tourist attraction.

“If our visitors come down to the wharf and it’s in a state of disrepair, it doesn’t sell Mildura like it should.”

Cr Eckel said that it was important to note that the project was a refurbishment as opposed to a rebuild.

“We need to differentiate between that. It’s the biggest refurbishment in 126 years, but the wharf actually undertook an expansion project, which doubled its length back in the mid-1980s, and cost more than $200,000, two thirds of which was funded by NSW Maritime and the balance was paid for by Council,” he said.

“These magnificent structures still serve a vital role in our region today, not only as popular tourist attractions, but in the case of the Mildura Wharf, as a vital piece of infrastructure for our paddleboat industry.

“The Mildura Wharf is also one of the centrepieces of our thriving, redeveloped riverfront precinct, and with these works completed, now complements the significant upgrades that have taken place throughout this precinct, which attracts thousands of locals and visitors each year.”

Mildura Rural City Council Facilities Service Co-ordinator, Jason Kane, said that he was very pleased with how the project had gone, finishing on time and within budget.

“As part of the refurbishment we have removed all of the pine timber that had been used in parts of the wharf and replaced that with red gum, so that it will last for a long period of time,” he said.

“It will last for years to come, our intent was to make sure that the wharf looked like it was when it was built originally.”

While the main work of project focused on replacing balustrades, hand rails and decking boards, and extensive painting, a number of safety enhancements have also been carried out.

These include safety new lighting, the addition of on-slip surfaces on the ramp, and ‘Zebra’ markings on the decking of the open edges wharf where there aren’t any railings. 

Mr Kane said that the condition of the red gum pylons, which are the originals, were assessed by experts before the project commenced.

“Divers came in and they drilled holes into the timbers under the water to take a ‘core’ sample, to ascertain their condition, and to know they can last for another 50 or more years,” he said.

“We didn’t need to replace them, the tests revealed that they were still in solid condition, which was good news.”

Mr Kane said that the refurbishment of the Old Mildura Homestead wharf was completed simultaneously, which had proven to be a very efficient use of the construction company’s time.

“We did them both at the same time to minimise the cost, and while Maritime Constructions were waiting for the delivery of some additional red gum timber, they were able to complete work on the homestead wharf without if affecting the timeline of the project, which worked out quite well.”  

Cr Eckel thanked the community for its patience while the works were conducted.

“We timed these works to occur at one of the quietest times of the year for our paddleboat industry in an effort to reduce any disruption,” he said.

“We also staged these works to ensure at least one section of the Mildura Wharf was available for departures and arrivals at all times, and our paddleboat industry representatives and the community were very understanding and great to work with throughout this process.”