Historic Port Fairy battery gets bucks for its bang

A HISTORIC piece of Port Fairy’s maritime history is set to be upgraded with funds allocated to restore and relocate the town’s cannon at Battery Reserve.

The $166,600 state government grant will go towards the installation of tourist pathways through the reserve and along the river as part of a combined project with the Moyne Shire. 

It will also involve landscaping, interpretive historical signage for the cannon and a properly sealed car park. 

Port Fairy-based historian Marten Syme said the funding presented an opportunity to rejuvenate Battery Reserve after many years of decay and neglect.

He said the cannon was one of the best examples nationwide of early colonial defence installations, pre-dating the Russian Empire scare which dominated the late 1800s.

“It’ll be welcome news for all Port Fairy residents with an interest in history,” Mr Syme said.

“While there have been a number of conservation studies in and around Battery Reserve, that’s as far as it got in regards to full restoration work.

“(The site) has been slowly subsumed by non-native vegetation so it is my hope that some of this funding will go towards redressing that issue, removing that vegetation and improving the outlook from the reserve.”

Mr Syme said the cannon located at the Port Fairy reserve was uniquely well-preserved with similar reserves around Port Phillip Bay lacking a comprehensive display of battery equipment.

Premier Denis Napthine said the $166,617 grant would enable moving the restored cannon to a more prominent position within the reserve. 

The Port Fairy resident said the project would generate greater tourist interest in the eastern side of the seaside town.

“The relocation will improve visibility and encourage people to visit the site from the opposite bank of the river, which is a hive of tourist activity including restaurants, dwellings and tourist accommodation,” the South West Coast MP said. 

Moyne Shire will contribute roughly $55,000 to the Battery Reserve project, which is expected to cost more than $220,000 overall.

“The shire is keenly aware of the historical significance of the site and its potential tourist value,” the Premier said.

“As a result, it is committed to preserving the collection and has commissioned Bureau Veritas to establish its condition and identify any required restoration work.”

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