When was the last time you spent an afternoon in St Kilda? An obvious choice, though often overlooked by locals, St Kilda is a lively and diverse seaside suburb that has plenty of enjoyable activities to suit all sorts. However, this article will be focusing on an icon so quintessentially St Kilda, that is, the famous St Kilda Pier.
St Kilda has had a colourful history. Originally, it was a fancy suburb for Melbourne’s upper class, with Edwardian mansions built to line the leafy streets. Fast forward one hundred years and it was a mecca for artists and the alternative culture. Then came the dark days when St Kilda was avoided by locals as it was a hot spot for crime, drugs and prostitution. In recent times, due to gentrification, St Kilda has been mostly cleaned-up and is again one of the most sought after postcodes, as well as being Melbourne’s number one backpacker destination.
St Kilda has had a pier since 1853. The original one was washed away in a storm not long after construction and other ones were built in replacement, but the concrete pier as we know it has been in place since the 1970’s.
Taking a walk down the pier is a simple pleasure. A nice day is the favourable choice but there’s definitely something wild and romantic about promenading down the pier rugged up in scarves, gloves and jackets while the wild sea crashes around you.
Expect to see a mix of backpackers, trendy urban-professionals, the last remains of the bohemian artist culture, fisherman and families, all enjoying what former Port Phillip Mayor Janet Bolitho termed “the people’s pier.” Also keep your eyes peeled for the colony of little penguins that have made St Kilda Breakwater their home!
At the end of the pier is the newly rebuilt kiosk, after the original one was tragically burnt down in a deliberate arson attack in 2003. After a huge amount of public support, the new kiosk was opened in 2006, structurally based on the original 1904 design plans. Materials that could be salvaged from the ashes were used in the restoration including the decorative wrought-iron lace. A neighbouring restaurant and a public viewing platform were also created so visitors can consume a coffee, ice-cream or meal whilst enjoying the spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay.
Where:Only 5 km from Melbourne's CBD, St Kilda is easily accessible by public transport. Catch the 96 tram or light rail from the city, or drive there as car parking is available in the vicinity of the foreshore (Melway ref: 57 J10).