How determination built the ‘gateway to the Bay’

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Victoria’s largest marina had a tenacious Robert Jackson at the helm during the development of Patterson Lakes.

Old Carrum was a rural area, home to cattle and dirt roads, and earmarked to become the future canal suburb of Patterson Lakes. Having been successful in their loan application, the Jackson Brothers with a background in marine mechanics moved from Abbotsford to Mentone in order to expedite plans for Whalers Cove Marina.

In the late ‘70s, Patterson River was shallow and muddy at a time when the Jackson Brothers were cutting into the levee bank to enable access to the marina. “After cutting two entrances into the levee bank, in the early ‘80s we began excavation of the marina using large earthmoving equipment,” recalls Robert.

Upon completion, Whalers Cove Marina attracted some of Melbourne’s wealthiest businessman who travelled to Patterson Lakes to launch and store their boats, from AC/DC’s Phil Rudd to motoring legend Peter Brock. The thriving family-run marine business with direct access to Port Phillip Bay offered services from mechanical repairs, sales and refuelling to storage in the hard stack or wet berths. 

The hard stack, commonly referred to as The Big Green Shed, stored 180 boats. “We put a big crane in there — a unique suspended overhead crane to lift boats into the racking. Seven tractors with 14 boys launched and retrieved boats, including 40-foot cruisers from the water.”

Rival Priestley’s, which was storing trailers and had berths in the canal nearby, was soon acquired. Expanding the business, catering to storing 1000 boats, the Jackson Brothers worked day in, day out. 

“We lived it, seven days a week; you were young and we had to make it work,” Robert says.

In 1987, the ‘one stop shop’ turned over $22 million in boat sales before later selling out for $50 million to Capital Resorts Group. The publicly-owned group would eventually go bust, leading to housing development under new ownership and the business being renamed the Patterson Lakes Marina.

With a big vision, Robert Jackson and his motley crew are a testament to realising the untapped potential of Patterson Lakes, the ‘gateway to the Bay’.

CAMERON HOWE

camhowe.com