Princes Pier in Port Melbourne is a heritage listed structure, adjacent to Station Pier. It was originally named New Railway Pier, due to the railway lines down the centre, connecting it to the Port Melbourne Rail line.
Opening on 29 September 1914, the first Australian convoy carrying troops to fight in WW1, left from its newly completed first section. At the end of the war, most of the troops who returned to Melbourne, disembarked at Princes Pier.
It was also the departure point for Australian troops, and arrival point for American troops during the Second World War. In the years following the end of WW2, it became, along with Station Pier, the first landing point in Australia for post-war migrants. Over one million landed there between 1947 and 1969.
It was renamed Princes Pier in 1921 in honour of the royal visit by the Prince of Wales. The pier’s iconic two-level timber Gatehouse was added in 1935 enabling better monitoring of cargo and traffic, on to and off of the pier.
With the shift to containers, and the massive containerships being too big to berth at the pier, coupled with the last of the migrant ships in 1969 the pier was used less and less and was decommissioned in 1985. It deteriorated severely over the next two decades, and in 2006 the Victorian Government committed $34 million to its restoration. The existing deck structure was removed, and 196 metres of the pier were reconstructed, including repair of defective timber piles to support a new concrete deck. The gatehouse was refurbished, and a forest of piles created at the seaward end of the pier, as a heritage and sculptural centrepiece. Today its a favourite spot of fishermen and photographers alike.