Within a few weeks all three had joined the Department of Lands and Survey as draftsmen. In 1880 Catani was registered as a surveyor under the Land Act. Two years later he and his friends were transferred to the Public Works Dept, where they were employed as engineering draughts people preparing plans for harbours, jetties and coast works, and by early 1886 they were assistant engineers. Melbourne was booming and needed keen, young, skilled men.
main path looking towards the rotunda/bandstand
built for the 1988 bi-centenary.
This Italian civil engineer supervised many significant projects in and around Melbourne. Casey Cardinia blog wrote that Carlo Catani was one of the Engineers in charge of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Drainage scheme just outside Melbourne and was Catani also responsible for the first mechanical equipment used on the Swamp. This transformed the area into prime farmland.
Catani’s other work with the Public Works Dept included flood mitigation works on the Yarra River. He was responsible for planting the now-magnificent elm trees along Alexandra Avenue. And he designed the Morrell bridge.
St Kilda Council created a foreshore committee in 1906. By that year Catani, who was Chief Engineer of the Public Works Dept, was contracted to reclaim and beautify the foreshore from St Kilda south-wards down the bay. His successful plan resulted in our famous strolling district, leaving space for beach facilities that became core parts of Melbourne’s foreshore incl Luna Park 1912, the Palais Theatre and Palais de Danse 1926 and just before World War 2, St Moritz Ice Rink 1939. As a result, several landmarks along the foreshore were his creations. The gardens he designed at the end of Fitzroy Street were named after him, as was the Catani arch bridge on the St Kilda foreshore.
Catani clock tower, with Catani's bust
The clock tower is a very fine copper domed, classical construction that stands with pride on the StKilda esplanade/foreshore. Carlo Catani’s bust, as you can see in the photo, still appears on the Clock tower and it is this monument to a young Italian adventurer that I knew best. Alas, as Melbourne Heritage Watch wrote, the Catani Clock was stopped by rats.
The hot sea baths and hotel on St Kilda main beach in 1910, which replaced the 1862 Gymnasium Baths. In time, the hot sea baths themselves burned down.
I was surprised and delighted to read that the Afrilog Construction, Kenya blog, in CONSTRUCTION NEWS AROUND AUSTRALIA, urged that the design of any new development in St Kilda (still being debated in 2009) should remain true to Federation-era legacy of Carlo Catani. Of course our Kenyan blogger colleague is quite correct.