Carlo Catani

Carlo Giorgio Domenico Enrico Catani’s influence as an engineer can be seen right across Victoria, and is most evident in the extensive reclamation and landscaping of the foreshore from St Kilda to Elwood.

The shoreline of beach sands and tea-tree grove is the traditional land of the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung. By the mid-1800s, this seaside area was inhabited by European settlers who had fallen on hard times and taken refuge in the thick tea-tree along the foreshore.

With the establishment of the Municipality of St Kilda in 1857 and the growth of the suburb as an attractive residential area, the foreshore underwent further changes to accommodate this new demographic.

In the 1880s the rise of St Kilda as a seaside playground led to extensive plans for the beautification of the foreshore. Reclamation works took place from 1890 to 1916, commencing with a seawall built out of rubble that allowed for the creation of the “Pier Lawns” that surrounded the St Kilda Yacht Club by 1896.

The St Kilda Foreshore Trust Committee was established in 1906 and oversaw ongoing reclamation works and the commissioning of ornamental gardens.

St Kilda’s Neapolitan-styled coastal parkland designed by Catani (whose Mediterranean tour of 1912 is said to have inspired these lawns, pathways, formal gardens and beachside promenade) has hosted a diverse range of entertainments and popular attractions for many decades.

Catani’s influence is also evident right along City of Port Phillip’s foreshore to Port Melbourne, with the broad paths and central plantings still evident today. In 1927 the six-hectare gardens on the St Kilda foreshore were named in honour of their designer.

Image courtesy Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society

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