Alec Morden was one of the more successful cuthroats to emerge in the void that followed the deaths of Squizzy Taylor and most of his gang. Within three years of Taylor’s death, he had managed to seize control of a large portion of the drug trade in Melbourne, by the simple expedient of opening up another way for drugs to enter and leave the city other than the docks at Port Melbourne, where the crims who controlled the docks had become greedy. Willing to take a lower profit – at least until he could build up enough strength to wrest control of the docks himself – Morden spent most of the late 1920s evaluating Melbourne’s coastline before settling on the muddy tidal creek that separated Parkdale and Aspendale.
He began by building a legitimate business as a cover – starting with a single fisherman’s boat, he built up a small fleet of assorted vessels. About half of these were fishing craft, but others included tourist launches and even a few privately owned yachts. Although the fishing industry already existed in the area prior to Morden’s arrival, there is no denying that his influence saw the area’s focus on the nautical grow. And so long as the cops were kept onside with the appropriate bribes, there seemed no limit to what he might acheive. He smuggled marijuana out of Melbourne and harder drugs in, and took a profit on both trades. By 1932, he was even sponsoring the development of a yacht club in the area, as much for the legitimacy it would lend as for a cover for even more boats – if only he could persuade the various factions to agree on a name for it. Part of the problem was Morden’s employment policies, which were ahead of their era in some respects. Alec didn’t care if a man was black or white, so long as he could do his job – and the area had a surplus of unemployed Boonwurrung tribe members who would often work more cheaply than their white equivalents.
In the end, it was the marijuana that did him in. Morden’s stranglehold on dope smuggling in the south east of Melbourne brought him into conflict with “Ace” Lindsay, a former enforcer for Squizzy Taylor now living near Dandenong and supporting himself by growing and selling the illegal weed. Lindsay felt that the prices Morden offered him were insultingly low, and after a spectacular failure of negotiations to resolve the issue, took upon himself to shoot Morden three times, hitting him once in the arm and twice in the chest. Lindsay left his body floating in the creek where Morden’s boats were moored, where his now-former employees found it early the next morning.
The following year, the Mordialloc Yacht Club opened its doors, and the vengeful police swept the docks of the newly named area clean of Morden’s people. The name is usually said to derive from the muddy creek itself – “moordy yallock” allegedly meaning “muddy creek” in the language of the Bonwurrung. The late date of the naming, and its component words being Alec Morden’s names swapped in order, point to another origin.
Suburbs near Mordialloc: