GALLERY, VIDEO: Fine farewell to floating dock

A FIXTURE of Newcastle harbour for almost 35 years, the floating dock Muloobinba floated out to sea yesterday on its way to a new home.

Hundreds of people lined the foreshore to watch the iconic Forgacs dock leave the port.

Scenes echoed those on January 9, 1978, when people gathered on the harbour’s shores to watch its arrival in Newcastle.

Stephen Blayden remembers  watching the dock come into the harbour in 1978.

Mr Blayden, who worked on the dock for about 11 months when it was part of the State Dockyard, took his grandson Ryder, 2, to watch it leave yesterday.

The Muloobinba also holds a special place in the heart of former State Dockyard worker John Geyer, who with family members, was photographed in the Newcastle Morning Herald as one of the first people to walk onto the dock for an open day.

‘‘I served my time as a fitter and turner at the Newcastle State Dockyard starting in 1966 and finishing in 1970 or ’71,’’ he said. 

Mr Geyer said he was sad another part of the city’s industrial history had been lost.

‘‘It was a fantastic piece of gear,’’ he said.

Long considered one of the key pieces of infrastructure in Newcastle port, the floating dock was ideal for conversions, refits, unscheduled repairs and maintenance.

It was made in Japan in 1977 for the State Dockyard. The dock was later bought by the Newcastle Port Corporation, before being sold to Forgacs.

But with no maintenance work for the past two years, the company began looking for a buyer and the sale was finalised this week.

Fort Scratchley’s big guns fired a farewell salute to the dock as it moved past Nobbys yesterday.

A specialist tug equipped for long journeys is towing the dock to Singapore where it will be overhauled. It will then be transported to its next home at Walvis Bay in Namibia.

FLOATING DOCK MULOOBINBA

■ Year built: 1977

■ Builder: Hitachi Shipbuilding, Sakai, Japan

■ Size: 205 metres x 33.5 metres

■ Lift capacity: 15,000 tonnes

■ Cranes: Two

■ Arrived off Newcastle on January 4, 1978, but big swells delayed entry into port

■ Muloobinba is the Aboriginal name for Newcastle

■ Two of the dock’s biggest contracts were the Navy ships HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla

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