Coode Island

  (Redirected from Coode Island, Victoria)

Coode Island is a former island at the convergence of the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers, 4 km west of central Melbourne, Australia. The island was formed by the excavation of the Coode Canal in 1887, and became connected to the mainland in the 1930s.[1] Today the low-lying land is part of the Port of Melbourne, and is used as the site of Swanson and Appleton Docks and their associated container storage and rail yards, as well as a number of chemical storage facilities.

Coode Island
Coode Island Container Docks - panoramio.jpg
Container docks along the eastern side of the island
Coode Island is located in Melbourne
Coode Island
Coode Island
Coordinates37°48′55″S 144°54′26″E / 37.81528°S 144.90722°E / -37.81528; 144.90722
Elevation5 m (16 ft)
Area0.97 km2 (0.4 sq mi)
RegionWest Melbourne
Coode Island viewed from the junction of the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers


Map of Coode Island after the Coode Canal was cut in 1886, diverting the flow of the Yarra River

Before the 1880s, the area of Coode Island was an expansive low-lying wetland. The island became isolated from the mainland after the Coode Canal was dug to shorten the length of the Yarra River in 1886.[2][3] A shipping canal was constructed to the south of the existing course of the river through Fishermans Bend, to allow access from the Port of Melbourne to Yarraville. The boundaries were the canal on the south, the Maribyrnong River on the west and the Yarra River on the north and east. Once formed, the island became an industrial area of 97 hectares. The island was named after Sir John Coode, an English harbour engineer who was engaged by the Melbourne Harbour Trust to select the optimum route for the canal as part of the Port of Melbourne. The former course of the Yarra River was slowly filled in over the years, along with the associated swamps, and by the mid-twentieth century, Coode Island was no longer a true island, although the name remained.

By 1909 the area was being used as an animal quarantine station and after 1915 as a sanatorium for victims of bubonic plague and other contagious diseases.[4] By the 1920s the area was inhabited by hermits living in huts and abandoned ships. In 1927 the Larkin Aircraft Supply Company had set up operations on the island, including a factory and aerodrome,[5][6] which was used until World War II.

In 1960 the area began being used for the storage of petrochemicals. In 1968 the Swanson Dock container terminal was constructed on the south side of the former island, which reduced the size of Coode Island.

On 21 August 1991, at the Anchor Tank facility, St. Elmo's fire ignited one of the storage tanks, resulting in the Coode Island explosion.[7] About 8.5 million litres of organic compounds burned including acrylonitrile and benzene, creating a toxic cloud over nearby residential suburbs, which was dispersed by strong winds.[8][9][10][11] The ignition spread between tanks through a common vent system, nitrogen blanketing had been considered unnecessary when the tanks were designed, and the common vent system was installed as a later modification to allow recovery of fumes for environmental purposes.[12]

Proposals were made to move the facility to Point Lillias near Geelong,[13][14] but environmental and Aboriginal heritage concerns thwarted the plans. In 2000 the Bracks Government announced that Coode Island would be the site of Victoria's major petrochemical storage facility, with six companies leasing the facility from the Melbourne Port Authority.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Coode Island". Victorian Places. Monash University, University of Queensland. 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  2. ^ "History of the port". Port of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  3. ^ "Great Harbour Projected". The Argus: An Historic Souvenir. Melbourne. 9 September 1926.
  4. ^ "Coode Island". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 July 1915. It is proposed that returning soldiers suffering from contagious diseases, such as typhoid fever and measles, shall be accommodated at Coode Island
  5. ^ Smith, Ann G. (1983). "Larkin, Herbert Joseph (1894–1972)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  6. ^ "Coode Island Air Port". The Argus. 14 September 1927. p. 23.
  7. ^ "Coode Island, Melbourne, Vic: Explosion & Chemical Fire". Emergency Management Australia. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  8. ^ "Chemical accidents at Coode Island". Hazardous Materials Action Group. 1991 Aug 21-22. Archived from the original on 19 April 2011. Fire and explosion in tanks at Terminals, involving acrylonitrile (acts like cyanide on the human body), Benzene (effects nervous system and causes leukaemia), Phenol and Methyl Ethyl Ketone. Residents and workers evacuated from the immediate vicinity; other residents told to stay inside. Smoke plume carried as far as Fern Tree Gully and covered the Central Business District. A number of firefighters were injured.
  9. ^ Coode Island Community Consultative Committee (March 1992). "Coode Island Review Panel, FINAL REPORT". State Government of Victoria.
  10. ^ Gibson, Kathy; O'Donovan, Gary. "Don't Mention It - Coode Island and Environmental Disclosure Strategies in the Australian Chemicals Industry" (PDF). Edwards School of Business. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Clive Hale (1991). "Coode Island chemical fire". YouTube. ABC News.
  12. ^ Trevor Kletz - Learning from Accidents
  13. ^ "About Coode Island". Coode Island Community Consultative Committee. July 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  14. ^ "The Point Lillias Chemical Storage Facility: A proposed chemical storage facility for Victoria". Chemlink. 2006.