Grand plan for port

David Braithwaite

THE Port of Sale precinct could be transformed into a major attraction for visitors, with big projects proposed in a master plan developed for Wellington Shire Council.

Among the proposals is the construction of two four-storey buildings on the sites of the former Sale high and specialist schools, and two pedestrian and cycling bridges connecting the north and east banks with the west bank of the port.

Native title claims will need to be resolved in two parts of the review area.

The master plan review, shaped through consultation during the past year with user groups and government organisations, is now available for public comment.

The review doesn’t just take in the area immediately around the Port of Sale, but also the future site of TAFE Gippsland, land currently occupied by Dyers Transport and the former Sale police station.

The document’s executive summary stated the Port of Sale was the “jewel in the crown for the city of Sale”.

“It already provides considerable amenity and yet there is significant potential to further enrich this,” it reads.

“The area is historically significant for aboriginal activity along an important trade route and for the efforts by early European settlers who constructed the canal and the port for trade.

“The precinct now accommodates marine activity, while recent initiatives have made the area a high-quality destination that offers a range of experiences related to the visual and performing arts, passive recreation and markets.

“Yet there is still considerable opportunity to further enrich the precinct with new uses, spaces and activities.”

Opportunities identified in creating the plan are developing the former school and police station sites as well as the Dyers land, enhanced interpretation of Gunaikurnai and other history of the Port of Sale area, improved public spaces and pedestrian movement, and uses which leverage off the new TAFE Gippsland campus.

The stand-out proposal is the construction of the two four-storey buildings on the former school sites.

Commercial facilities relating to the arts have been suggested for the ground floor, complemented by retail and food, while the upper floor could have hotel and conference facilities.

The heritage-listed former high school building on Raymond St will be refurbished for community or cultural uses, which are yet to be determined.

However, because a native title claim is on part of the high school site, a subdivision is proposed to ensure development on the remainder of the area is not held up.

The school land, as well as the former police station site on York St, are have been deemed by two state government departments to be surplus to their requirements.

Council is keen to buy the two areas from the government, with but native title issues for both need to be address with the Traditional Owners’ representative body, the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, before any land can be purchased.

If council buys the former school site, the master plan will form the basis for developing an expression of interest for redevelopment.

The residential growth zone proposed for the former police station site can accommodate range of uses, with the proposals including apartments, visitor accommodation, a brewery or eatery and cultural museum.

The master plan suggests using the site to enhance the relationship Gunaikurnai people have with the land and the nearby Lake Guthridge environs.

Upgrades around the north and east banks, including “intimate public gathering places” will complement the Wellington Centre, skate park and The Wedge.

Expansion plans for The Wedge are in their early stages, but include new foyer and café facing the port, new performance studios and an amphitheatre between the venue and the former high school site. While prone to flooding, the site offers an opportunity to accommodate large events as well as substantial recreation activities, but lacks connectivity with the rest of the precinct.

Pedestrian and cycling bridges linking the west bank to the skate park and Canal Reserve have been proposed.

A public space will be established in a prominent position, and a boardwalk along the water’s edge constructed.

The boat club’s short term priority is creating safe walkways from the land to boats via new finger jetties.

The existing slipway will be removed and replaced with a “cradle and tractor” combination for the transport of boats via the existing boat ramp to a new boat maintenance and storage area.

Proposals for the Canal Reserve include improved public toilets, storage for the Sunday market with the possibility of a multi-use facility for the rowing and dog obedience clubs.

The Dyers industrial land, 4.7 hectares, had been identified for rezoning, but would need to be decontaminated.

It is expected the Port of Sale precinct master plan will be presented to council in July for final approval.

For more information, visit or email council’s strategic planning coordinator at