In my few ferry trips to the city this week there has been one recurring question – what are these huge, brightly coloured sheds on the waters edge on the north-western side of the Balmain peninsula?
The answer was pretty simple really, considering it’s painted across three of the four buildings in 10-foot high lettering.
The Waterview Wharf Workshops sit on Mort Bay (formerly Waterview Bay), and have origins dating back to 1882 when a timber mill was built on the land. The Burns Timber Company operated for barely a decade before going out of business in the 1890’s depression.
At the turn of the century, the Adelaide Steamship Company bought the land and converted the site into a ship building and maintenance facility, despite not having a slipway or a dry dock. Steelworkers, tumblers, boilermakers would line the zig-zag footpath each morning, hoping they would be taken in and given some work.
By the 1970’s boat services were no longer required, and the buildings became a haven for artists, however the workshops became derelict and in need of some serious TLC. In 1986 a restoration project commenced, converting the space into several studio spaces.
There is now a Permanent Conservation order covering the entire site, and the buildings are listed by the National Trust.
Nowadays the Waterview Wharf Workshops are home to several commercial businesses, including creative, events and logistics businesses. There are around 30 tenants in total, including a sound studio in what was once the underground bomb shelter.