Mordialloc Stream, pristine to ‘muddy-yallock’

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From the archives, 1977: Mordialloc stream, virgin to “muddy-yallock”

From the archives, 1977: Mordialloc stream, virgin to “muddy-yallock”

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Angler and boat builder Jack Pompei, known as “Mr Mordialloc”, spent his childhood and working life on Mordialloc Creek at Pompei’s Boat Shed. Jack once joked that the creek was so clean that fish would develop tears in their eyes swimming in it. How did one of Victoria’s top sights become a muddy mess?

By Gerry Carman

First published in ageAugust 27, 1977.

Beauty spot now a ‘muddy – yallock’

Mordialloc boat builder Jack Pompei.Credit:Rodger Cummins

Mordialloc Creek – once a haven for wildlife and dozens of species of fish – is now a filthy, smelly mud hole.

So says Mr Jack Pompei, who has lived in Mordialloc for over 50 years and has seen the stream go from one of Victoria’s finest sights to a muddy mess.

“Today they should call this place ‘muddy-yallock’ because the smell is so bad,” Mr Pompei said, looking down into the glue pot that was once a clear stream.

A great day's boating on Mordialloc Creek, circa 1900.

A great day’s boating on Mordialloc Creek, circa 1900.Credit:State Library of Victoria

“The stench is so bad it can give you a blinding headache,” he said.

“Truly it was one of the most beautiful spots in Melbourne that I remember from my childhood when there were 88,000 people coming for a day by the creek for a Saturday afternoon.

“And the fishing… people now have to go to Queensland to catch the different varieties of fish that we had here before 1952.”

Mr Pompei said fishermen were able to catch mud crabs, prawns and sea bream in the creek.

“In fact, Mordialloc Creek holds the record for the largest bream caught in Victoria – 6 ¼ pounds.”

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On weekends, he had to mark his fishing spot on the side of the bank in the morning. Otherwise there would not have been enough room to fish in the afternoon because it was too crowded.

The Pompei family, present in Mordialloc for almost 100 years, have been working in shipbuilding since their arrival in the region.

“After the 1952 floods, they cut off the water that flowed from Dandenong into the creek and since then the place has fallen apart,” Mr Pompei said.

“The banks collapsed and scaffolded the stream. It’s so bad that at low tide the 150 boats moored in the creek are stuck in the mud and you can’t move them.

Mr Pompei said there was no reason the stream could not return to its former magnificence.

His plan to fix the creek is:

  • Wall the banks of the creek from the railroad bridge to Black’s Bridge with rock.
  • Dredge the entire creek as deep as possible, which will yield clean salt water to clean up pollution.
  • Level the banks and grow trees and grass there.
  • Redo the natural islet in the middle of the stream which has been choked with marsh weeds.
    Rent a boat for a day on the bay or cove, circa 1950.

    Rent a boat for a day on the bay or cove, circa 1950.Credit:State Library of Victoria

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