Swanson Dock 1998
oil on canvasboard
Dimensions (H x W x D)
53.5 x 64 cm
signed ll: DACRE SMYTH
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection
Since the 1960s the whole pattern of cargo-carrying in ships throughout the world has been revolutionised, with huge pre-packed containers of cargo, many of them refrigerated, being stacked like building blocks onto especially-built container ships, thus replacing the old cargo-ships into whose holds the cargo was loaded and stacked by the wharf-labourers of those days.
Today, the 'wharfies' operate sophisticated cranes and carriers especially designed to deal with the containers, and docks such as Swanson Dock, off Footscray Road in Footscray, have been built to replace the old alongside-berths such as South Wharf in the Yarra, from whose quiet and sleepy No.31 berth I painted this picture, just after the industrial turmoil on the wharves of May 1998.
West Swanson Dock, operated by P&O, has three container-ship berths, all of which are visible and occupied in this painting, while East Swanson Dock, operated by Patricks, has four berths, only No.1 being visible here.