Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group 2nd Quarter 2018 Update -  June


 How is the ferry going?

 We spoke to Connie Trathen the Marketing & Business Coordinator of Port Phillip Ferries on how the ferry numbers were going.

 "It’s been great to now have the opportunity to compare a previous year of patronage, and pleasing to see that numbers are up on last year on all fronts.

Commuter numbers have increased, and although they are not the fastest growing sector, they are the most loyal users of the ferry and do a wonderful job spreading the word to potentially new commuters.

All passengers, including commuters, are pleased to see the huge changes in recent months with the new boat, café commencing and recent liquor licence.

 Seniors groups continue to play a large part in our Monday to Friday patronage but it’s the packaging with other businesses that we are finding most effective.

 People are really drawn to having an entire experience mapped out for them, with a one stop shop. Therefore our partnerships with the likes of the Q Train, Terindah Estate and others, are assisting in that growth."

 Trials for a possible direct Geelong to Melbourne ferry.

 Port Phillip Ferries will run a two day trial from Geelong in late July 2018. In conjunction with a local business group, Committee for Geelong the trial will gauge the interest in a regular ferry service running between Geelong and Docklands. For a gold coin donation the trial will take ferry passengers on a tour of Corio Bay.

It is believed that to be viable a long-term ferry service would have to attract at least 130 passengers per day.

 The target market would be the estimated 17,000 Geelong commuters who currently travel to Melbourne each day. With a trip time of 100 minutes it remains to be seen if a regular ferry service while being 30 to 40 minutes longer is more attractive than sitting in a car on a gridlock highway or travelling to Melbourne via V-Line in a packed train.

 As a regular daily service would be direct between Geelong and Docklands there should be no impact on the Portarlington - Docklands service.


  Portarlington Safe Harbour

Upgraded North, West corner of pier

Actions have been performed on the north /west corner of the pier to remove the rotting bearers and planks. New foundations and walkway have been added to bring that area up to the standard of the rest of the pier. 









 Calm Day

During the first week in June, we had one of those magnificent days when the bay was perfectly calm and the sky was perfectly clear.  Standing on the new pier, the conditions made it possible to see the remains of prior structures many meters under water



The future of the old pier

Decommissioning of old Portarlington Pier.

Parks Victoria have notified us of the decommissioning of the old Portarlington pier.

"Portarlington Pier has been a popular destination for summer holidays, anglers catching fish and a major contributor to the Portarlington economy through commercial fishing and tourism for half a century.

The old Portarlington Pier has reached the end of its practical design life and needs to be permanently closed for public safety. A new replacement pier has already been constructed adjacent to the old pier.


The old Portarlington Pier pictured on the left is now closed for public safety. The new pier on the right will continue to serve the Portarlington community.  

Portarlington Harbour is an important recreational and commercial destination. In February 2018 the first stage of works to deliver the Portarlington Safe Harbour Master Plan were completed. The project was designed to support the Bellarine Peninsula's growing aquaculture industry and help boost tourism and the local economy.

As the manager of over 40 piers and jetties around Port Phillip and Westernport, Parks Victoria continually monitors the condition of piers across Port Phillip and programs regular maintenance and major works to ensure the continued safety and enjoyment of our bays and waterways.

The old pier was built in the 1970’s with a 50-year design life. As the old pier approached the end of its design life, plans to build a new pier were incorporated into long term plans for the safe harbour precinct.

The new Portarlington Pier, which opened in July 2015, was constructed as part of delivering stage one of the Portarlington Safe Harbour Master Plan. 

The new pier at Portarlington has been designed to ensure long term access for pedestrians, commercial fishing, recreational vessels, passenger ferry services and other aquaculture related activity.

Portarlington Pier is monitored regularly and recent inspections by specialist engineers identified that the old pier is no longer safe for pedestrian access.

Prolonged exposure to saltwater has caused the steel reinforcement to rust which slowly undermines the concrete and weakens the structure. 

The inspections found elements of the ageing structure have deteriorated to the point that concrete has started to break away from steel reinforcements and fall into the water. 

With a closure now in place, the public and commercial users of the pier will now need to use the new pier.

Parks Victoria has commenced planning to eventually decommission and remove the old pier and will provide further community updates as these plan progress.  

For more information call Parks Victoria on 13 1963 or visit www.parks.vic.gov.au"

Geoff & John

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group 1ST Quarter 2018 Update


Portarlington Safe Harbour

  Construction of Sand Movement Groyne

As part of the Portarlington Safe Harbour work, a new groyne needed to be constructed between the new and old pier. The new groyne is designed to reduce sand movements and wave action and alleviate beach erosion within the harbour. Parks Victoria scheduled the work to have the minimum disruption to the commercial users and the general public, this was particularly difficult as a long weekend occurred during the construction period.  The construction is just about complete.

Old Groyne                                                                                                   New Groyne

Dredging of Hard Material

Parks Victoria has called for tenders to dredge and dispose of up to 6,000 m3 hard material (clay and weathered rock) from shallow waters in the area between the pier and the eastern wall . Works also include a pre/post construction survey and the installation of temporary navigation markers for the period of dredging. The existing pier will not be used for handling of dredged waste as this material will be removed by barges.

The tender will close on the 28 March 2018. It is expected work will begin sometime in June and the work should take approximately 2 months to complete depending on the weather.

   The Ferry

The ferry with visiting cruise ship in background

Port Phillip Ferries have seen out the end of their second summer with good results in passenger numbers. This Labour Day long weekend saw 300 people come over to the Bellarine on both Saturday and Sunday. That is more than twice the numbers that visited the same time last year. Large numbers of senior groups continue to visit during the week with sometimes upwards of 150 people visiting on the Tuesday and Thursdays.

The new vessel, the Bellarine Express, is being enjoyed by all especially with the new café now in operation. In particular the regular commuters are enjoying a coffee to and from Melbourne and the day trippers both ways enjoy the freedom to purchase a snack or drinks. It certainly is a great value add to the service. The daily commuters are also noticing an increase in regular numbers and the crew are meeting more and more new residents to the region.

The service is creating a lot of great publicity for the region, including the inclusion in the February edition of the Jetstar magazine that featured Portarlington. Many internet users, or "on line influencers" as they are referred to in the marketing business, are spreading the word about the service and what there is to do once they arrive at Portarlington. Port Phillip Ferries packaging of the service with the QTrain and other products have also stirred a lot of interest in the media.

In Melbourne, the new docking location has created great interest. The location directly on the tram lines has made the ferry much more visible to capture the passing public’s interest.

Port Phillip Ferries featured in the Herald Sun recently around the services announced for Geelong. The first of these Geelong direct to Melbourne services will ran on March 25. It is running to suit the Geelong vs. Melbourne AFL match at the MCG. They will trial a small number of these services over the football season in the hope that it generates enough interest to consider some permanent services on that route. These Geelong trials will operate with the Bellarine Express and the Capricornian Dancer will continue  to run the Portarlington to Docklands service during the trials. The Portarlington timetable will not be affected in any way and will remain in place as is.

Port Phillip Ferries expect that passenger numbers over the Easter period will be up significantly over last year.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group 4th Quarter 2017 Update


Portarlington Safe Harbour

Stage 1 of the Portarlington Safe Harbour Master Plan is nearing competition. This stage of the 3 stage Safe Harbour project covered the Maritime Precinct.

Main elements of the Maritime Precinct were to:

  • Repair the pier at the western end that needed a new pier structure due to its poor condition.
  • Undertake work to create a safe harbour. This was achieved by adding two breakwater walls, one on the north side and one on the eastern side.
  • Add a new pier to separate pedestrians walking on the pier from commercial mussel/fishing traffic.
  • Add western wave protection panels.
  • Construct floating ferry berthing pontoon and landing area.
  • Construct new pier to provide addition moorings and commercial boat unloading facility.
  • Dredge excess sand from new harbour.
  • Add cover plates and hand rails between the new pier and old pier.

Parks Victoria has done an excellent job in building the Safe Harbour. They included public information days to keep the public up to date on progress which was also excellent.

Below are some photos taken during the build :

There is one final action yet to be completed. Tenders have been prepared to have a contractor dredge one area close to the shore to allow more room for the ferry to manoeuvre on days where there is a strong northerly wind. The area is made up of hard clay and needs a digger on a barge to break it up before it can be removed. It is planned for this action to take place around March of next year.  

There is also one further action that was not included in the original project that we feel is needed. We believe that if a clip-on walkway was added to the eastern side of the new pier from the ferry berth to the shore it would improve safety by keeping ferry passengers clear of vehicles driving down the pier. We will continue to work with the appropriate authorities to have this installed.

We believe Portarlington and all other Bellarine residents should be very proud of the new Portarlington Safe Harbour and we are grateful for all their ongoing support.

Bellarine Ferry

It is hard to know where to start with the Bellarine Ferry news this quarter as there is so much happening.

·       First Year.   November saw the Bellarine Ferry's first year of operation and the passenger numbers continue to grow.

·       New Service. Over the December and January period a new service has been introduced between Portarlington and Geelong on Saturday afternoons. These services have been a great exercise in raising awareness of the ferry within the region.

·       Permanent Portarlington berth. The ferry is now docking at the new floating pontoon in the Portarlington Safe Harbour which besides being closer to the shore for passengers it allows the ferry to berth overnight.

·       Additional new Ferry.    A new ferry purposely built for Port Phillip bay conditions and built by INCAT for Port Phillip Ferries has arrived.  The $10 million ferry aptly named "Bellarine Express" was officially launched  by The Governor of Victoria , The Hon Linda Dessau on December 21st. 

       The vessel holds 400 passengers and contains many great features like a cafe, great seating with a table similar to an aircraft design, WIFI powering points and many other features. The vessel has a higher service speed vs the current ferry and is driven by props , not by jets of water which will give it improved manoeuvrability in the Portarlington Safe Harbour.

       The vessel will now conduct sea trials and testing into the new year. There are a few scenarios on the table for where and how the new vessel will be operating, but until these trials are completed, there will no announcements just yet on the future services.

Also in attendance at the launch was Lisa Neville MP Member for Bellarine (Lisa Neville played a major part in getting both the Portarlington Safe Harbour and the Bellarine ferry) Mr Little Mr Paul Little (Port Phillip Ferries) addressed the guests and had the all important bottle of champagne to launch the ferry.

 Here are some photos of the new ferry taken on the launch day.

 Also happening:

        Increased Speed Trials. There is a 3 month trial for the current ferry "Capricornian Dancer" to operate at an increased maximum speed of 15 knots on the Yarra River between beacons 23/24 and the West Gate Bridge. There will be no changes to the current schedule at this stage, but please keep following them on Port Phillip Ferries website and social media channels for future updates.  Higher potential vessel speeds plus river increased speeds will allow reduced travel times in the future.

·       Shore based activities. There are new things for visitors to do and see once they arrive on the Bellarine being added all the time.

        Follow these additional activities by keeping an eye on Port Phillip Ferries website.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Update 3rd Quarter 2017

Portarlington Safe Harbour

Parks Victoria continues it's good work on building the Portarlington Safe Harbour.

Western Wharf Wave Protection Works  With the western wharf section of the pier head completed, the wave screens have been delivered and installed.

The wave screens for the remainder of the western pier are gradually being delivered to site and installed. It is expected all wave protection works will be completed by late September depending on the weather. Work on the wave screens require calm weather due to the need for divers to assist during the installation.

Moorings on the north side of new pier (that runs west to east)  The fabrication of fenders and walers for the commercial mooring and berthing infrastructure is now complete and subject to weather, the installation works will commence late September 2017. The necessary timber mooring piles have been delivered and are ready for installation. The piling work was delayed to allow for dredging near the old finger jetty area.   The dredging in this area is now completed including the removal of 108 old timber piles from the seabed.

Power, water, sewer and fire services These services have now been installed to the pier entrance. All services will be running under the new pier. Works are now expected to be completed in October 2017 subject to the weather.

Ferry floating berth:  The floating ferry berth has been completed off site and now is attached to a barge in the safe harbour waiting for the wave protection work to be completed.

The floating berth access ramp has been delivered. The length of the ramp is designed to enable the ramp to be usable in all stages of the tide. It's width is wide enough to allow wheel chair access. 

Dredging: While the dredging of sand in the new harbour is complete the removal of a limited amount of rock to provide the necessary depth for the ferry to operate from the new floating terminal is still to happen. All the necessary pre work actions are currently underway

Bellarine Ferry

Port Phillip Ferries have added a number of new initiatives.

First venture into Geelong on Saturday 7th October. Between the normal weekend scheduled trips to Docklands the ferry will provide the following opportunity:-

·       For Bellarine travellers depart from Portarlington to Geelong at 12.45pm arriving 1.30pm and depart Geelong at 3.15pm arriving Portarlington at 4.00pm.

·       For Geelong travellers depart from Geelong at 3.15pm arriving Portarlington at 4.00pm and depart Portarlington at 8.15pm arriving Geelong at 9.00pm.

For the Geelong travellers the trip is a package deal which besides the ferry rides includes being taken to Scotchmans Hill Winery and Terindah Estate winery for wine tastings and at Terindah Estate a two-course dinner and wines. 


For Seniors Week (Oct 8th -15th) the prices have been halved ie $6 one way.

For Commuters for a limited time commuters (travellers who use the 7.00am and 5.30pm services) will only pay for one trip while Port Phillip Ferries will pay for the other trip.

For the School Holidays (Sat Sept 23rd - Sunday 15th 2017) a Family Pass (2 Adults & 2 Children) is available for $69 return.

For more details on these initiatives and a whole lot of places to visit and activities to do visit Port Phillip Ferries website.

If you require a ride from home to the ferry or/and a ride from the ferry to home, Fergos Bongo Tours provide a ferry pick up and drop off service. Pricing start from $5 pp (according to your location).

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group Update 2nd Quarter 2017

Bellarine Ferry

Port Phillip Ferries have provided us with the following information:

"The last few months have been and gone in a flash as we celebrate our 6 month anniversary travelling between Portarlington and Docklands.

There has been some fabulous Autumn weather with a few days so calm that we have been spotting dolphins and penguins in the bay.

Although we are still waiting to pull into the new pier in Portarlington harbour we are enjoying the attention where we dock with the rock wall now open to the public.

Our regular commuters are becoming part of the family with a great bond and friendship forming between them and all of our crew.

We have welcomed a couple more new members to the team, including our new skipper Matt Wardley.

If you have travelled with us recently you will have seen and used our new carbon fibre ramp, and noticed we now disembark via the back deck when in Portarlington.

Once again we would like to thank the community for their ongoing support and encourage you to continue to spread the word to get us through our first Winter trade."


We have also been advised that the ability to purchase refreshments and snacks will be available with the addition of a vending machine being installed on the ferry in the coming weeks.

Bellarine Bayside have been holding discussions with Port Phillip Ferries with the aim of exploring a number of options for attracting visitors to the area.

One option includes the offer of a potential package that may include overnight accommodation in a cabin in the Portarlington Holiday Park as part of a trip by ferry to Portarlington.

This and other options to attract visitors to the town and district will continue to be investigated into the future.

Portarlington Safe Harbour

The Breakwater Works

The breakwater works are now complete and ramps have been created on both sides of the eastern breakwater (see photos below) so that people can still walk along the foreshore/beach without being interrupted by the new breakwater. 

The contractor has finished and left the site.  The site clean-up and fence/gate has been reinstated including installation of mulch.  Two temporary signs have been installed on the entry to both breakwaters, warning of uneven surface with deep holes.



People can still walk/fish on both breakwaters (see right), although the eastern breakwater is only designed and constructed for vehicle traffic.

With the demolition works of the old finger jetty and more recently the western wharf section of the pier head complete, the contractor PWJ have now recently completed the piling on the 66m x 4.5m western hard stand that will support the wave screens.  The pile sleeves are currently being installed with grouting to follow.  

Offsite fabrication of all concrete components as well as the pontoon components is also underway.

The photo below right  shows the right-hand side of the new finger pier that requires dredging before the ferry can move to its permanent berth.

The photo below left gives you an idea how long the section of the north wall is.

Parks Victoria have announced that a ranger will be appointed to look after the new Portarlington Safe Harbour and will report to the Parks Victoria office at Queenscliff. The ranger's list of duties includes being responsible for keeping the new asset in good working order, including dredging and other maintenance tasks plus liaising with stakeholders such as the mussel farmers, recreational fisherman, Bellarine Bayside and the ferry operator. Events days would also come under the ranger's list of duties.


Latest Ferry News 24 March 2017


Docklands Move

The ferry is soon to commence docking at a new location within Docklands which is a few hundred meters away from the current location. The ferry will be docking along the Harbour Esplanade which is a lot closer to the free trams and Etihad Stadium. We believe the change will take place in the next few weeks.

The "Location" section on Port Phillip Ferries website will be changed to show the new docking location..... if you have not looked at this page on the Port Phillips Ferries website you should do so as it is an aerial view of docklands and you can see where the ferry docks.

You can also keep up to date by following Port Phillip Ferries Facebook pages.

School Holidays

 Kids Cruise ½ price over the school holidays (Mon – Fri only)

Children 3 and under are still free.

There will be "colouring in" on board for the children and "maiden voyage badges" will be handed out (until they run out).

Also Melbourne Star – Observation Wheel have an offer that allows kids to " Fly" for free accompanied by a full paying adult.

This is valid over the entire school holidays. 1 free child per 1 paying adult. Just show your ferry ticket to get the offer. It's not valid along with any other promotions.

The Wheel is situated at Harbour Town and you can catch a free tram from the dock straight to Harbour Town.  If you want some gentle exercise you can walk there but with small children it would be better to take the tram.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group   First Quarter 2017 Update

Portarlington Safe Harbour.

Construction of the eastern and northern breakwaters (Portion 3) is continuing ahead of schedule with the temporary harbour entrance closed and the new entrance now open and being used very successfully.

Works prior to closing the Temporary Harbour Entrance

Starting to close the Temporary Entrance


Temporary Entrance closed

Portion 2 works, which include mooring facilities, western wave protection and ferry berthing pontoon, were approved by the Parks Victoria Board in December 2016. The ferry berth pontoon cannot be installed until dredging takes place which should be around mid year.

Contracts have just been signed by the contractors and Parks Victoria CEO.  Works are anticipated to commence March 2017 subject to procurement timelines. PWJ Constructions are presently setting up their site office and are busy establishing the site ready to start works.

Works to upgrade the commercial berths (Portion 1) were completed in December 2016, however they cannot be used until Portion 2 works are complete.

Bellarine Ferry

The acceptance and excitement around the introduction of the ferry continues, not only from the Bellarine residents but also from the other side of the bay.

Numbers are growing all the time. Word has spread in Melbourne and we are seeing more and more groups from such organisations as Probus, bicycle groups, community associations etc using and enjoying the ferry.

The Ferry and Portarlington were featured on POSTCARDS Channel 9 on the 19th of March. As well as the ferry the Postcards team visited the Portarlington Mill, Grand Hotel and Advance Mussel Supply.

Port Phillip Ferries have appointed a local person Connie Trathen as their Marketing and Business Coordinator. Connie worked previously at Tourism Greater Geelong so we will see a lot more focus on the ferry both locally, Melbourne and beyond. 

Port Phillip Ferries is working with Bellarine organisations to capitalize on the opportunities the ferry presents by offering ferry passengers a range of activities once they disembark at Portarlington.

For example the Free courtesy bus service that offers passengers a tour taking in four Bellarine wineries, Scotchmans Hill, Terindah, Bennets and Bellarine Estate has already become a must do for guests arriving by the ferry.

A bus picks up passengers at the pier on the half hour from 11am to 5pm weekends, public holidays or by prior arrangement. People are delivered and picked up at each winery which means people are free to stay as long as they wish to taste the local wines and enjoy a bite to eat before moving onto the next winery.

If a group of people are coming over on the ferry it is recommended that they call a couple of days before (0400 128 599) to ensure an appropriate size bus is waiting to pick them up.

Another form of transport is by BONGO vehicle. Bongos are electric tricycles that carry 6 passengers. They take passengers on either nominated tours or to a destination of their choosing. The Bongo van can also transport people from the pier to the main street if required. Bookings can be made by phoning Fergos at Bongo Tours on 1800 4 BONGO or email sales@bongotransit.com.au  Further details are available at the Portarlington Community Information Booth.

Also available at the Information Booth in the Rotunda is a list of 10 must do things when visiting the North Bellarine. Call into the Information for up-to-date local information. The booth is open Friday-Sunday 11am-3pm and on major event days.

4th Quarter 2016 Portarlington Safe Harbour & Bellarine Ferry Group Update

The Bellarine Ferry is here to stay.

We have been waiting over 9 years to say those words.

On Monday, November 21st  2016 the Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville announced a deal that been struck with Port Phillip Ferries that guaranteed that ferry service between the Bellarine Peninsula (Portarlington) and Melbourne (Docklands) for the next 3 years. This period will give the ferry service time to build up patronage to ensure a permanent service.

Ms Neville also said that work was underway to raise the speed limits on the Yarra river to an appropriate speed which would slash journey times by up to 15 minutes. She said this was on track to be in place early in the New Year, subject to safety and environmental review.

The permanent service started on Tuesday 22nd November with three services per day between Portarlington and Docklands. Port Phillip Ferries chief executive officer Murray Rance said he was enormously grateful for the support the community had given to the ferry service during the trial period.

The service will start with one ferry but as soon the passenger numbers grew a second ferry will be added. Both a hot drink and bike storage facility are being look at.

The ferry timetable and fare structure cab be obtained from the Port Phillip Ferries web site.

The Bellarine Ferry Group would like to thank Lisa Neville for her all that she done to enable this ferry service to become a reality. Also we would like to thank Paul Little for his vision that saw Port Phillip Bay utilized for commuters and tourist travel.

It is now up to us, the citizens of the Bellarine to make sure we utilise the ferry service so it becomes a permanent feature of the Bellarine.

Portarlington Safe Harbour

The Breakwater Works: commenced on the 22 February 2016.

The works are progressing very well with 270m of the ‘access footprint’ of the Eastern Breakwater complete i.e. the foundation.  Northern Breakwater also progressing well with approximately 325m (seabed) of the 370m breakwater completed to high tide mark.  The contractor is now placing armor rock to the northern and eastern breakwaters to achieve the design profile.

The Pier Berthing Contractor: commenced with the piling ‘jack-up’ barge delivered on 26 June 2016 and piling commenced on 28 June 2016.

Piling works completed with all 83 piles installed.  The Contractor has installed all precast concrete headstocks, making the pile to headstock connections (which involves placement of in-situ concrete to stitch the elements together) and recently has installed all the precast concrete deck panels.

The hardstand area at either end of the finger jetty has recently been poured and railings added to the south side of the pier.

Wave Protection: This tender was advertised on the 17th August 2016 and closed on the 7th September 2016.  These works involve the completion of the ‘Safe Harbour’ wave protection works and is the final element to the creation of the safe harbour.

The key elements that are required to achieve a safe harbour and commercial berthing area at Portarlington are:

  • 100 metres of wave protection structure on the western side to protect the pier from waves from the west, and removal of the inner timber jetty to provide access to the new commercial berths.
  • The works on the western wave protection and mooring facilities are expected to commence in later 2016 or early 2017 depending on the approvals process and the procurement timelines which will be established once a contractor is engaged.  The existing timber lower landing and the old concrete pier will remain for now.
  • A ferry terminal which will be made up of a specially designed floating pontoon. The pontoon will allow for a consistent ramp height for both boarding and exiting from the ferry.

The wave protection structures play an important part especially in bad weather in protecting all the international structures in the Safe Harbour including the ferry pontoon.


3rd Quarter 2016 Portarlington Safe Harbour & Bellarine Ferry Update


The Bellarine Ferry had an inital one day trial in early August and in response to support is now being trialled seven days a week until later this year.  So this quarterly update is all good news!

Portarlington Safe Harbour

The 1st Stage of the Portarlington Safe Harbour project is in 3 separate builds.

     1. The 175 metre new pier designed to allow the mussel farmers to bring heavier vehicles onto the pier to load their mussels.  This build is now complete.

                         The build of the new pier which is now complete.

2.  Build the breakwaters to double the size of the existing harbour which will also make the harbour a Safe Harbour.
The build is going well and will be finished later this year.


      3.  Build the floating ferry pontoon berth. Install wave panels on the outer pier and provide appropriate fendering and mooring on the new commercial berthing jetty ready for the mussel farmers to move over to when completed.

     Work has commenced with the piling "jack-up" barge installing the 83 piles. Now the piles are in place the connections (sleeves) are being constructed so that the precast crossheads and decking can be installed.



                  The piles are now in place for the new pier which will     house the ferry berth.

All works should be completed by July 2017 (subject to weather).

Bellarine Ferry

Ferry trials were first conducted over three days with two days being completely sold out and well over 200 people on the other day. On the back of these numbers Port Phillip Ferries decided to extend the trials to 7 days a week until later in the year.

The local and Geelong press coverage has been excellent and letter drops to every home on the Bellarine are scheduled to ensure every person on the Bellarine is well aware of the trial. It is paramount that the ferry trials succeed to ensure both the ferry operator and the State Government are confident that the Bellarine residents will fully support an ongoing service.

So if you have not been from either Portarlington or from Docklands please do and if you have been, please go again.

For timetables visit www.portphillipferries.com.au

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bellarine ferry leaving Docklands.

During the trial period the ferry is docking at a temporary berth while the new Portarlington Safe Harbour which includes a floating ferry berth is being built. The temporary dock is fine for normal conditions but it can be impacted by strong northerly winds.

While Port Phillip Ferries will make every effort to advise you of changed arrangements, you are advised to check their website "Port Phillip Ferries" before each trip as they may not have been able to reach you.  

 Portarlington Safe Harbour & Bellarine Ferry Group   2nd Quarter 2016 Update

Portarlington Safe Harbour

The harbour build continues to go well despite the bad weather experienced in the last couple of weeks.

The foundation layer has been laid for the new Eastern breakwater (refer below). The footprint of the eastern wall is 270 metres and was constructed with 10 trucks delivering around 40 loads of rocks per day. The temporary rock bridge (right hand side of wall) between the Eastern and Northern breakwater has been completed which allows works to commence on the Northern breakwater. This bridge will be removed as the final stage of building the breakwaters as this area is the new harbour entrance.

Dredging of the existing harbour continues with the side benefit that the dredged sand will be used to renourish the beach to the west of the pier. Approximately 30,000 metres of material will be dredged. Once the area has been dredged the water depth inside the harbour will be approximately three metres at high tide.

Berthing Wharf works have commenced off-site and the procurement of piles and the fabrication of concrete crossheads and decking are underway with an anticipated completion date of early June 2016.

                          Melbourne beckons

Bellarine Ferry Project

It is great to report that the first of the Port Phillip Ferries has begun trials on Port Phillip.  John Rae and Geoff Henderson from the Bellarine Ferry Group were invited to experience a pre launch trip along the Yarra River and out into Port Phillip. The ferry is docked at Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands which is close to Etihad Stadium and a short walk to the tram that runs along Bourke St.


Trial ferry

The day was windy with white caps on the bay. The boat handled the conditions beautifully with minimum movement being felt on board. The ferry is a catamaran, 35 metres in length and has a draft of 1.3 metres and carries 400 passengers with a cafe and WIFI available for passenger use. Service speed is between 23 to 25 knots with a top speed of 30 knots.

As part of the trials being carried out the ferry will undertake a daily return service between Wynhdam Harbour and Docklands. Other trials are planned for the remainder of May and through June. Attached to this email is an interview conducted by Jon Faine with Paul Little who is the head of the Little Group, which provide full details of the trial currently being conducted. You will hear the importance Paul places on the Portarlington Safe Harbour as the gateway to the Bellarine.


Trial ferry pulls up at Docklands

With the new Portarlington Safe Harbour breakwaters due for completion early next year, the new finger pier construction to start in June 2016 and the floating ferry berth completed, we can then successfully trial the ferry on Port Phillip and up the Yarra. With everything in place you have all the ingredients for a regular ferry service from the Bellarine (Portarlington) to Melbourne CBD.

Portarlington Safe Harbour & Bellarine Ferry Group 1st Quarter 2016 Update

Portarlington Safe Harbour

The completion of the Portarlington Safe Harbour project is key to being able to run a regular ferry service from the Bellarine Peninsula to Melbourne.

The Safe Harbour project funded by the current State Government is up and running. Below is an artist’s impression of the completed 1st stage of the project. This stage includes a ferry terminal. 

The ferry berth will be a floating berth, prefabricated off site and assembled onsite. Being a floating berth it will rise and fall with the tide changes which in turn reduces the angle of the ferry’s exit and entry walkways. The berth will be positioned on the land side of the smaller pier.

Since work commenced the weather has been good which has allowed non stop activity on the site. The photos displayed below gives an idea of the work being carried out daily on the new eastern wall.

The work has created a lot of interest from the local community and we have been asked a number of questions the answers of which may interest the large number of people we have on our email update list.

Question: Where do the rocks come from that are being used (estimated  132,000 tonne) to create the walls of the new harbour?

Answer: They are sourced from farms just west of Geelong.

Q: What type of rock is being used?

A: The rock is basalt and it has had its density analysed to ensure it is suitable for use.

Q: How is the extension of the north wall constructed as the rock required cannot be transported over the existing wall?

A: A “bridge” is constructed at the end of the new eastern wall over what will be the new harbour entrance to allow the necessary machinery and rocks needed to start work on the northern wall. The work will finish just short of the current pier to allow the mussel boats temporary access to the bay. The “bridge“ is then pulled down to gain the new entrance and the new northern extension completed. The equipment is then barged off the wall.

Parks Victoria and its contractors are doing an excellent job.

Bellarine Ferry Project

As the Safe Harbour project is progressing, our thoughts now return to the Ferry project. As reported in the prior update the Little Group has stated their interest in running a ferry service from Wyndham (Point Cook) to Docklands and a separate service from the Bellarine (Portarlington) to Docklands.

Now that the new Wyndham Harbour is complete, the Little Group are working through the final items to get that service underway. They expect at the latest a ferry will come down from Queensland in May to start trials for the Wyndham ferry.

Portarlington Safe Harbour & Bellarine Ferry Group 4th Quarter 2015 Update

Portarlington Safe Harbour Project

The building of the Portarlington Safe Harbour is a key factor in running a regular ferry service from the Bellarine to Melbourne.

The first construction element, a new 175 metre section of the pier was completed midyear. The next phase will transform the harbour over the next 18 months by the construction of two rock breakwaters, a new finger jetty, pier improvements and a number of marine industry access upgrades for the pier and harbour.

These actions will deliver better facilities for the aquaculture industry, make the harbour a safe haven for boats on the bay in times of bad weather and provide the infrastructure for a ferry terminal.

Tenders have been called to deliver these actions and work begins in February 2016.

Bellarine Ferry Project

As reported in previous updates the Bellarine Ferry Group has been in continual discussions on the introduction of a regular ferry service from the Bellarine to Melbourne with both State Government and private industry.

In October 2015, Mr Paul Little of the Little Group announced his company was working closely with ASX- listed SeaLink Travel Group on plans to run catamaran passenger ferry services into Melbourne’s Docklands precinct from two western Melbourne locations and the Bellarine Peninsula (Portarlington). We believe initially his first objective will be to get a ferry service running between Wyndham Harbour (Werribee South) and Collins Landing at Docklands as the new harbour at Wyndham is nearing completion.

Sealink currently operates a number of ferry services around Australia. SeaLink and with it's recent purchase of Transit Systems marine businesses would make it the largest marine tourism and transport company in Australia. SeaLink’s fleet of vessels would increase from 27 to 60 vessels. SeaLink proposes utilising high speed, low wash vessels which have a 400 passenger capacity. These vessels are similar to the vessel pictured below. 

Mr Little said the Andrews Government had been “very supportive” of the idea, and planned for a three-month trial of the service early next year.

The Bellarine Ferry Group had originally proposed a service to Docklands from the Bellarine but opted for a service to Station Pier because of some operational issues impacting on travel times when utilising the Yarra River. It is believed that the Little Group is working with the State Government to overcome these issues which if overcome would be great for Bellarine residents travelling to Melbourne.

We will continue to keep you updated on progress.


Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group  3rd Quarter 2015

Portarlington Safe Harbour Project

The initial stage of the Portarlington Safe Harbour was opened on July 24th, 2015 by the Member for Bellarine and Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville.  Parks Victoria (who have the responsibility for the Safe Harbour project) was represented by its chairman, Andrew Fairley.

This new 175 metre pier section is the first of the upgrades delivered under the $15 million Portarlington Safe Harbour development.

The works, which started in February, improve vehicle access to the harbour.

The next stage of the works will deliver better facilities to grow the aquaculture industry and provide the infrastructure necessary for a future ferry terminal.

In opening this stage of the works the Minister said that the new pier would build a strong foundation for the delivery of the Safe Harbour by December 2017.

Parks Victoria are finalising the detailed design of the next stage of the works to commence this year.


A newspaper article in the Geelong Advertiser on July 30th 2015 details the Minister's comments on the status of getting a ferry service from the Portarlington Safe Harbour to Station Pier.

Read the full article in In the News.

The Labor State Government promised in the run up to last election that they would "take the lead on a ferry service to Melbourne" and everything we have been involved in since has indicated that they are working on that promise.

The  pier under construction


Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group       2nd Quarter 2015 

Portarlington Safe Harbour Project
As indicated in our First Quarter Update the funds required to complete the first stage of the Portarlington Safe Harbour were included in the 2015 State Budget as promised in the run up to the recent State Election.  Parks Victoria have indicated that the necessary planning work has already begun related to the release of these funds. Stage one will double the size of the existing harbour as well as making it into a safe harbour.

Work is nearing completion on the initial part of this first stage as shown in the photos below. This is the area of the new harbour that will contain the two ferry berths
Ferry Project
An announcement was recently made by Lisa Neville, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, who is also the Member for Bellarine on the Safe Harbour the Ferry status. She confirmed that talks with the Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan had begun on the ferry service from the Bellarine (Portarlington) to Melbourne (Station Pier). We understand that a working group will be formed and that our group will be contacted to assist in this process.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group        1st Quarter 2015 

Well after many years of work we are finally up and running.

You may recall we finished our feasibility study into running a daily ferry service between the Bellarine (Portarlington) and Melbourne (Station Pier). We had several ferry operators from around Australia review our study results and all of them contacted the Department of Transport to advise them that they were willing to run such a service and that they would participate if tenders were issued.

The only problem we had was that the approved Portarlington Safe Harbour plan had stalled and therefore we were not prepared to push for the ferry service until the first stage of the plan was complete.  Lisa Neville, Member for  Bellarine and Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water in the newly elected Labor State Government lobbied long and hard to get the necessary funds required to build the first stage of the Safe Harbour and she was successful.

Current status

Portarlington Safe Harbour

Work has been begun on the first stage of the project. The first stage doubles the size of the harbour and builds the necessary infrastructure to make the harbour safe by fully enclosing the harbour on all sides.

By doing this there will be additional berths available for the mussel farmers and other aquaculture activities like scallop farming. This stage will also provide two ferry berths as well as berths for visiting vessels such as the tall ships. Three million dollars has already been allocated for the work now taking place on the western arm of the harbour. Daniel Andrews the then Opposition leader and Lisa Neville announced in April 2014 that if Labor was elected there would be a further $15 million dollars allocated in the 2015 State Budget to complete stage one of Portarlington State Harbour. The total cost for stage one therefore would be $18 million. Work should start later in the year based on the budget allocation.


The Labor Party has been supportive of the ferry project as can be seen from the articles here. We had discussions with the then Shadow Minister for Transport, Jill Hennessey late last year on the next steps into the investigation of the ferry project. She was keen to push on with the review now and not wait until the first stage of the harbour was complete. Jill Hennessey was allocated the Health and Human Services portfolio in the new government so we are waiting to meet with the new Minister of Transport, Jacinta Allan, to confirm the same timetable is still in place.

                               Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group             3rd Quarter 2014 

This is the last quarterly update before the November State Election. There has been a lot of action on both the Portarlington Safe Harbour and the Bellarine Ferry over recent months. Below is a summary on where both parties stand on these projects :-

Portarlington Safe Harbour (Necessary for a number of reasons including a safe berth for a ferry service to Melbourne). 


Have promised that if elected in November will, in their first budget include $15 million for the building of the first stage of the approved safe harbour project which will include two ferry berths. This amount has been confirmed by Parks Victoria as the projected cost of building the first stage of the project. This expenditure will allow the existing harbour to be doubled in size and provide a new breakwater on the east side to make the harbour protected on all sides, hence the term safe harbour.


Have released $3 million to provide a new pier which will allow the mussel industry to use larger vehicles on the pier. This new pier will be within the framework of the current pier and does not contribute to making the harbour a safe harbour which is required to operate a ferry service.

We have been advised that work will begin on this project in early 2015 and should be completed by the middle of next year. As regards to the building of the first stage of the Safe Harbour the current government have said that they will work with the Geelong council to come up with a strategy to build the new harbour. At this stage no information is available on how long this investigation will take.

Portarlington/Bellarine Ferry


Have announced if elected that they will take the lead on this project by working with interstate ferry operators on the viability of a regular ferry service from Portarlington to Melbourne. This study would run parallel with the work on the safe harbour to ensure if viable it would be put in place immediately the first stage of the harbour is complete. (refer recent announcement below).


We have been unable to get a clear position statement on the ferry. We note although that Matthew Guy, the Minister for Planning has supported a ferry from Werribee  to Melbourne and is studying what is required to allow ferries to travel up the Yarra river to berth at Docklands. (refer article below).

 We have always taken a non political position on both projects and now it is up to the voters in November to decide which party will provide the best outcome for these important projects.

                         Thank you for all the support you have given us over the past few years, that support has kept us going.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group        2nd Quarter 2014 

We have two significant news items this quarter.

1. In April the Australian Labor Party made a $15 million pledge for stage one of the Portarlington Safe Harbour Project.

The Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews said if elected in November, Labor would fund the first stage of the $58 million project. Mr Andrews said the funding would deliver a new pier, ferry berth, berths for the aquaculture industry, services for refuelling and pumping out of the current breakwater. Lisa Neville the current Bellarine MP added that the new pier would allow an oyster and abalone industry to grow and the blue mussel industry to expand, while a ferry service would boost local tourism.

2. In June the Minister for Ports, David Hodgett announced that the Victorian Government would invest $3 million for the immediate redevelopment of the Portarlington Pier.

Tenders have been issued and work would start immediately and would be finished in June 2015. The work would include a new pier that would be built beside the existing pier, which would also get much-needed repairs. The new pier would allow the mussel industry to use heavier vehicles to unload their mussels than is possible at the moment. The minister said that the Government was working closely with Parks Victoria on the project and further announcements would be made later.

From talks we had with Parks Victoria senior management who are responsible for the work on the project, the $3 million expenditure includes provision for piles to be put into place that would provide the base for floating pontoons for the ferry berths.

In theory this would allow a ferry service to operate from mid next year while the safe harbour was being built around it.

What does all this really mean?

The Bellarine seat is the most marginal seat in this year’s state election, so if either party is to win overall they must win the Bellarine seat.

So what do we have six months out from the Election?

Labor: An election promise of $15 million that will be in next year’s state budget (only applicable if elected ) which is just over half of the stated stage one cost when the safe harbour plan was released after community consultation in 2009.

Labor has left the door open for further announcements, which it could be assumed would be after they see what the Liberals announce.

Liberals: An immediate start on stage one (to be completed by mid 2015) with an indicated total cost of $3 million. The Minister also said that the government was working with Parks Victoria (the relevant government department responsible for the work) and that further announcements would be forthcoming. There was no clear indication if this was before or after the November election.

The ferry service impacts the entire Bellarine (and the Melbourne people who wish to live on the Bellarine and continue to work in the city). While there are a number of town specific needs that have to be addressed on the Bellarine, the ferry is arguably the one major Bellarine item that will get either party across the line.

The ferry service is now even more important to the Bellarine than it was at the last election. The transport system to Melbourne at commuter times has deteriorated further and is now a lot worse than it was in 2010.

What will we be doing?

We intend to go out to the Bellarine population with the details of both parties stance on the Portarlington safe harbour, to ensure they fully understand the situation.  The building of the safe harbour is the one thing holding back a ferry service.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Ferry Update - 1st Quarter 2014

The committee has continued to work on a number of issues impacting both the Portarlington Safe Harbour and Ferry project

 At the same time two significant things have happened:-

 Portarlington Safe Harbour news

       The Minister of Ports, David Hodgett MP has confirmed that the Portarlington Safe Harbour project has been included in the State Government’s Budget Submissions.

   Bellarine Ferry news   Napthine Government wants private ferry not beach for Docklands.

 The Napthine Government thinks the Docklands would make an ideal location for a private ferry terminal. 

Picture: Mark Wilson Source: News Limited. February 14, 2014 10:35AM 

A FERRY terminal, not a beach, would suit the Docklands waterfront, says the Napthine Government.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy rejected the idea of an urban beach to enliven Harbour Esplanade, as suggested in a report commissioned by state authority Places Victoria.

“It would be a silly idea, the water’s static, (it) would be a great spot to be our ferry terminal into the future,” he said.

It seems that the Government is favouring the introduction of privately-run commuter ferry services, with final studies to be completed within weeks.

Services would run between the city and places like Williamstown, Point Cook, Altona, Werribee South and Portarlington.

Ok, what does all this really mean?

The Portarlington Safe Harbour expenditure is being considered by the State Government along with other capital expenditure programs for this year’s budget. We will have to wait to see if it gets through the process but as it’s reported to be No.1 on Parks Victoria’s port upgrade list, we are very hopeful.

The State Government’s study into commuter ferries on Port Phillip will be finalised within weeks. What we want to see coming out of the study is:-

         1. The ferry service from Portarlington goes direct to Melbourne and does not stop at other locations like Werribee.

         2. The service while being privately operated is part of the public transport system and subsidised like the trains, trams and buses. The Bellarine is only 39 kms away from Melbourne and needs direct public transport to enable commuters to get to work in Melbourne with a reasonable travel time in lieu of the present 2 hours each way.

        3. For the ferry service to go direct to Docklands (our preference from Day 1.) means that two things need to happen:-

·      The speed limit on the Yarra needs to be lifted for the commuter ferry operation to be viable.

·      The ferry needs to be given right of way when travelling on the Yarra. The alternative of travelling direct to Station Pier would be a fall back solution if these two items cannot be changed.

Thank you for all your support and we will continue to push these items on your behalf.


November 2013

Ferry Status

We have yet to receive a copy of the consultant’s report on the viability of ferries operating on Port Phillip which was given to Mathew Guy around the middle of the year. While we understand the report was favourable it would be good to read it in full.

It is clear that the state election which is scheduled for next year is the key to both the Portarlington Safe Harbour and Ferry Projects. The Bellarine seat (currently held by Labor) will play a major part in deciding who will form the next state government. Recent redistributions have favoured the current government but the margin is still extremely tight. 

We will be seeking iron clad promises on these two projects (including timing) and we will be reporting back to you on the stance of each party.

Portarlington Safe Harbour

As stated above, the upcoming election is the key to getting this project back to the head of the queue as regards capital spending. We have spent the last quarter liaising with the relevant government departments on the status of the project. In addition we have confirmed that the project is still on the priority list of both the City of Greater Geelong and G21 which is critical.

Our update list has grown every month since it was first started in 2010. This fact clearly demonstrates the importance of these two projects not only to the people of the Bellarine but to many people outside the Bellarine who have holiday homes on the peninsula or who wish to move here once a regular ferry service is operating.

As this is the last update for 2013 we wish you all a Safe and Happy Christmas and New Year........ 2014 is the crunch year and we will be asking for your assistance during the year to bring these projects home.

  August 2013

Great to see a movement to have Ferries operating on Port Phillip which confirms our position that once you have a safe harbour, ferries will follow.

Below is a copy of the Media Release from The Victorian Minister of Planning, Mr Mathew Guy on the extension to Wyndham Harbour and the fast tracking for a ferry service from Werribee to Docklands in Melbourne’s CBD

Thursday 18 July 2013

 Melbourne’s western harbour town to grow

 Minister for Planning Matthew Guy has given approval for the expansion of one of the most exciting redevelopments in Melbourne’s west by announcing extensions to the Wyndham Harbour project.

 Planning Scheme Amendment C156 will allow Wyndham Harbour to grow to a community of almost 1,400 residents. Mr Guy’s approval will also assist in fast tracking a ferry service link to the Docklands and the CBD.

 “Expanding the Wyndham Harbour development will assist in providing a critical mass of population to make a commuter ferry service from Werribee to the city fully sustainable,” Mr Guy said.

 “Wyndham Harbour also provides new lifestyle opportunities to Melbourne’s west, opening up Port Phillip Bay to the western suburbs in the same way that the eastern suburbs have enjoyed the bay for decades.

 “The expansion of Wyndham Harbour also provides an exciting opportunity to link Melbourne’s west to the city for tourism and employment anchors such as the Werribee Zoo and the new Werribee Employment Precinct.”

 The rezoning of 11 hectares of land will accelerate the development of the 1,000 berth marina, 10 kilometre extensions of gas and water mains and reticulated sewage.

 “This approval will assist in creating up to 3,000 jobs during a five-year  construction period and up to 440 ongoing jobs associated with marina  operations, retail activity and property and site maintenance,” Mr Guy  said.

 Wyndham Harbour will be a residential, commercial and marina complex and the only safe boat harbour between Williamstown and Geelong.

 The new development will provide approximately 200 residential housing lots, 200 apartments and 27 terrace homes that incorporate the latest in environmentally sustainable initiatives.

 Other features of the development will include two new public beaches and Marina Square, which will offer a central hub with a range of restaurants and cafes, a convenience store, boat brokers and charter boat hire.

 Members for Western Metropolitan region, Bernie Finn and Andrew Elsbury,  welcomed the development and said Wyndham Harbour will become a treasured  landmark in Melbourne’s west, supported by its proximity to the Werribee  Employment Precinct and other popular suburbs in Melbourne’s west.

Also below is a copy of the editorial from “The Age” dated July 19th, 2013.

Ferry could turn the tide

There is road, there is rail...and there is water. Even though it is generally taken for granted that a river flows through Melbourne and into Port Phillip Bay, we don’t always take advantage of such natural assets in terms of public transport.

There is a welcome hint of change in the air that eventually could see a ferry service from the western bayside suburbs to Docklands and the CBD. On Thursday, state Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced he had approved expansion of a harbour development project in the City of Wyndham - Australia’s fastest-growing area which incorporates Werribee and Point Cook, where population of more than 30,000 is expected to double by 2021. This continuing population explosion was expected, in time, to make a commuter ferry feasible, Mr Guy said. The project, which includes a marina and new public beaches in addition to residential zones, will take five years to complete.

Of course, no one could expect a ferry service to instantly resolve the existing public transport or traffic problems that afflict commuters and drivers in the west, but it might at least provide a way of easing them. The advantage of talking to the water, as distinct from cramming into a train or bus, or chugging along in a car, is accessibility rather than novelty. Over time, taking the ferry to work in Melbourne could be as natural as it is in Sydney or San Francisco.  

The Committee congratulates the State Government for taking action to relieve the chronic transport situation in the west of Melbourne. The Minister’s recent study on ferries has obviously convinced the State Government that Victoria should be utilising ferries on the bay to supplement the state’s transport system. The extension of the Werribee harbour to accommodate ferry berths will start to address the traffic issues in the west by providing another transport option for the people of the Werribee/Point Cook.

There is also talk of a second ferry service from Avalon airport to the South Eastern suburbs.

A second ferry service to Avalon Airport has been flagged for 2015.

Wyndham Harbour developer Lyons Capital, which is behind the ferry service from Werribee South to the city, is investigating a separate ferry service from Melbourne’s southern suburbs to the airport.

 Lyons Capital planning manager Greg Miller said with the airport status recently upgraded to international, the service would help reduce the time it took travellers from the other side of Port Phillip Bay to get to the airport.

April 2013

Melbourne Ferries Background Study

The Government is interested in understanding the economic and technical feasibility of introducing ferry services in Melbourne’s west. Importantly, and in a break with previous studies, the aim is to identify the preconditions, possible pathways and mechanisms for establishing and maintaining a sustainable service. 

Cover of the Melbourne Ferries Feasibility Study discussion paperHaveyour say on the Discussion Paper

This initial Discussion Paper provides a preliminary review of the key operational facts, issues and challenges in operating commuter ferry services for Melbourne’s west.  The paper is informative and highlights some of the key challenges.  It:

  • provides an update on the state of play in Melbourne’s west and Docklands, and how patterns of growth and demand could support a Port Phillip ferry service
  • considers the use of water transport services in other places in order to identify lessons to take into this study
  • clarifies the importance of our shipping channels and waterways, and how a ferry service to Melbourne Docklands would be required to share waterways with recreational users and commercial vessels accessing the Port of Melbourne
  • contains a preliminary review of possible ferry berth locations in Melbourne Docklands, Wyndham, Hobsons Bay, Portarlington and Greater Geelong, and canvasses some of their pros and cons
  • identifies possible vessel options, and what can be achieved in terms of capacity and journey times
  • provides an overview of ongoing technical work.

Further work is being undertaken to identify the conditions where ferry services would be viable, including the service conditions to be an attractive alternative to the road or rail, forecasting commuter and recreational passenger demands, and necessary infrastructure investments.   (courtesy DPCD 2013)

Read the full discussion paper and submit the online Discussion Paper Submissions Form by 30th April 2013.

A final report with a feasibility analysis is expected to be completed by mid 2013.

Contact DPCD at urban.development@dpcd.vic.gov.au for any inquiries.

December 2012


As a result of the study into the viability of ferries operating on Port Phillip, which was announced by the State Minster for Planning, Matthew Guy, we have had discussions with Ernst & Young, the consultants appointed to carry out the study.

They came down to Portarlington to both meet with us and also to view the existing harbour facilities. We were able to fully brief the consultants and hopefully they left the meeting with an understanding of how important this project is to the future of the Bellarine Peninsula.

We were informed that the plan was to have a draft paper ready by the end of the year with the aim of having the final report to the Minister by March next year.

Portarlington Safe Harbour

From all the recent meetings we have had on the status of the Portarlington Safe Harbour it is clear to us that :-

a) The Safe Harbour project is on the list of items that the State Government needs to undertake but current budgetary constraints are an issue.

b) The fact that the Bellarine seat is now one of the most marginal seats in Victoria will make this project one of the top priorities for both parties in the 2014 state election.

c) The only hope for a short term start to this project is for a private developer to work with the State Government. There has been interest shown in recent months and where proposals makes sense our group will do everything we can to ensure the proposals get the appropriate attention from the State Government.


June 2012

As there has been a lot of activity going on since our last update in April, we have split this update into two parts.

Bellarine to Melbourne Ferry

Whether you live on the Bellarine or in Melbourne you would have no doubt read or heard the recent discussions on the need for regular ferry services to be introduced to Port Phillip. As a result of all these discussions The Planning Minister, Mathew Guy has announced a $300,000 study into commuter ferry services for Port Phillip. News of the study was widely reported, belatedly including a reassurance that the proposed service from the Bellarine to Melbourne will be included. Both sides of the Bellarine political spectrum have been active in calling for the Bellarine service to be included in the study.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that our group will have input into the study as we have gained an in-depth knowledge into this subject over the last five years.

See In-the-news for full coverage.

Portarlington Safe Harbour.

There can be no regular ferry service without a safe harbour to operate out of. As we detailed in April’s update we are waiting on the result of the meeting we had with the Minister of Ports, Denis Napthine on the status of the new Portarlington Safe Harbour project. For those new to our update newsletters we will provide you with a quick background summary on the Safe Harbour project.

In 2005 an exhaustive study was carried out by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria after it was deemed necessary for a Safe Harbour site on the Bellarine Peninsula. The study utilised data that had been gained from studies, reports etc from a range of Government departments over a number of years that were responsible for such area as:-

  •      Coastal strategies
  •      Marine aquaculture expansion
  •      Melbourne’s sustainable growth
  •      Regional tourism growth
  •      Environmental conservation
  •      Future strategies for commercial and recreational boating
  •      Protection of indigenous, post-settlement cultural heritage and geological sites of significance.

After review, four sites were selected to study in detail using 13 criteria. The four sites were Geelong, St Leonards, Portarlington and Queenscliff. 

Portarlington performed the best against the selected criteria and was selected as the site for construction of a new safe harbour.

As the existing Portarlington harbour was in poor condition $1 million was spent in 2007 to do short term bridging work to extend the pier’s life until 2012. Work was also begun on preparing a set of indicative drawings for the harbour’s design. 

Following extensive public consultation a set of drawings were prepared, signed off by all appropriate government bodies and released with much fanfare in October 2009. Since that date no further work has been carried out on the project..... hence the Ferry Group has become involved in the Safe Harbour Project.

April 2012

In our last update we let you know about of the meeting we had with Minister Of Ports, Denis Napthine on the status of the Portarlington Safe Harbour project. We expect an answer to our meeting in May 2012 as the State Budget is bedded down.

Meanwhile the troubles on the Geelong to Melbourne rail link continue. Below is a selection of this month's newspaper articles on Vic Rail’s Geelong to Melbourne service. A ferry service operating out of Portarlington’s New Safe Harbour would go a long way to alleviate the rail and road issues that exist today from the Bellarine to Melbourne.

Also in the news recently there was a strong and clear message from Kurt Reiter the Liberal candidate from the last election (who we understand is standing for pre selection again for the 2014 elections) on the benefits of the Portarlington Safe Harbour and a daily Bellarine to Melbourne Ferry service. See in-the-news.

 Lisa Neville the current Bellarine member also expressed her desires to see the Harbour project continue. There is no doubt that these two issues are going to dominate the 2014 election issues for the Bellarine.

Given that Lisa Neville who was a Minister in the last Labor State Government was unable to obtain funding to build the Portarlington Safe Harbour, getting money for this item of infrastructure from the current State Liberal Government remains a major issue for us.

 A range of press articles appeared about local public transport issues throughout April 2012.

Warning over rail fail pain

Cameron Best | April 7th, 2012

The Geelong Advertiser

Related Links

<http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2012/04/04/317745_news.html>Thousands of V/Line commuters stuck

THE state's new public transport regulatory body has given V/Line a rap over the knuckles for its handling of Tuesday's power failure which left thousands of Geelong train commuters stranded for up to five hours.

The debacle, caused by a failure of a high voltage underground power line which left the entire line from Werribee to Geelong paralysed, was the first crisis for the not-yet week-old Public Transport Victoria (PTV).

Chief executive Ian Dobbs told the Geelong Advertiser he was extremely disappointed with the delays experienced by 4250 V/Line passengers.

"Although the cause of the disruption was outside of V/Line's direct control, the concerning thing was the response to the situation was very poor and they know that," Mr Dobbs said.

"From our perspective, we are very keen in the future to make sure that when things do inevitably happen, they get dealt with efficiently, and we keep people up to date and that clearly didn't happen on Tuesday night."

While some trains made it into stations along the Geelong line following the power failure, three trains were left stranded between stations, with hundreds of passengers trapped on board for nearly five hours.

As late as Thursday afternoon, V/Line crews were still trying to locate the exact point along the line where the 25-year-old power cable failed, narrowing the area down to a 1km stretch near Little River.

It is not known whether the cable failed because of its age or whether it had been cut.

Mr Dobbs said the cable, which runs alongside the track, wasn't thought to be a critical piece of infrastructure.

"Twenty-five years is not a long time in the context of the industry we operate, we constantly have to update infrastructure but sometimes it's difficult to predict which parts of infrastructure are more vulnerable than others," he said.

"There are lessons to be learned from this, about how V/Line handles this situation in the future and provides timely and accurate information to people on site."

Signal fault stops Geelong trains

| April 10th, 2012

The Geelong Advertiser

Related Links

<http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2012/04/05/318061_news.html>V/Line says havoc could happen again

TRAIN services on the Geelong line have been brought to a halt, leaving passengers stranded for the second time in a week.

A signal fault has stopped Melbourne-bound trains at Geelong while services headed to Geelong from Melbourne were halted at Werribee about noon.

Buses were being brought in to ferry stranded passengers between the two cities, until the fault could be fixed.

Hundreds of frustrated passengers at Geelong Central station were trying to get a seat on the road coaches, which were struggling to keep up with demand.

More than 60 buses have been brought in to offer express services to Melbourne and longer trips that stopped at all suburban stations, leading to longer travel times for people through the peak-hour period.

V/Line spokeswoman Claire Steele said engineers at the scene, in the same Little River - North Shore area where a signal fault last week caused passengers to be stranded inside carriages for up to five hours, had identified a transformer fault and were working to fix the problem.

Last week's paralysis was caused by the failure of a high voltage underground power line and left three trains stranded between Little River and North Shore, trapping hundreds of people on board.

Charles Thompson, 91, had already been forced to stand from Winchelsea to Geelong when he then had to cart his luggage and push through the throng to get aboard the express buses to Melbourne.

“It is just awful. They couldn’t even run a brothel (V/Line).”

Geelong rail woes set to continue

Andy Park

April 11, 2012

 The Geelong Advertiser

More chaos on the Geelong line is expected this morning.

THE fault that put thousands of V/Line's Geelong line passengers on replacement buses during peak hour last night will affect commuters this morning, with up to 80 coaches to ferry people to the city.

V/Line issued a service update last night reading, ''Buses will replace all trains on the Geelong line until 11am [today].''

Adding to commuters' woes yesterday were five malfunctioning boom gates in the Geelong-Lara area. The signal fault, which was the same fault that resulted in 800 passengers being stranded aboard a stationary train for about five hours last week, occurred about 12.20pm yesterday.

V/Line spokeswoman Clare Steele said the same cable was responsible for this morning's continuing service cancellation and yesterday's boom-gate malfunction.

''The cable snapped and we got a fix for it by using a different transformer, which in turn broke,'' Ms Steele said.

V/Line last night would not guarantee the fault would be fixed for normal services to return for today's morning peak hour. ''Even if we are able to fix it overnight, all our trains won't be in position and that's why we are putting on more than 80 buses to Southern Cross Station,'' Ms Steele said.

''Passengers should add 20 to 30 minutes to their journey to allow for road traffic.''

At least another 80 buses replaced last night's outbound commute as engineers tried to fix the problem

No room to move on packed Geelong trains

Peter Begg   |  April 25th, 2012

GEELONG peak-time V/Line services are fast approaching 100 per cent capacity with no plans for new trains to meet further growth of 170 per cent by 2021.

Of the five express trains from Geelong to Southern Cross Station before 9am on weekdays, two of them are 100 per cent full, and another two are 96 and 97 per cent full.

Of the five commuter express trains, only the earliest at 6.19am has much space.

The state auditor-general warned earlier this year that patronage on V/Line trains is expected to more than double by 2020/21, after doubling from 6.4 million passengers to 13.5 million in the past five years.

However, there are no current orders for extra trains and none have been promised.

A V/Line spokesman said he was hopeful there might be something in this year's state Budget, with the carrier believed to have been lobbying strongly for more trains.

The spokesman said they would not know what was in the Budget until it is made public next Tuesday.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Tim Petersen said yesterday the patronage on the Geelong line would continue to expand and there needed to be a plan for dealing with capacity.

"At the moment there doesn't seem to be one, at least there is no publicly released plan of how they are going to deal with it, and it's a big concern for all users and the PTUA," he said.

"I guess it could be a number of things they could look at longer trains, and that might mean that some of the smaller stations won't have the platforms length to take every carriage, but that happens on a number of country stations elsewhere on the network already.

"They could even look at developing some new rolling stock they might need to, given the large number of people on some of these commuting lines, they might need to start looking at even double-deckers trains on the Geelong line.

"It's one of those things that should be in the mix.

"It might be that double-decker trains are better for the long distance lines where everyone really expects to have a seat when you're talking about travelling such a long way over such a long period of time."

Mr Petersen said people obviously preferred the express services, and V/Line might have to look at running more express services.

     That's a few of the articles and comments about the current state of public transport for commuters to Melbourne.              

February 2012

The Group continued work over the Christmas and New Year period culminating in manning an information stand at the Portarlington Mussel Festival. The Festival attracted over 20,000 people on Saturday, January 14th 2012. 

We were very busy all day answering questions on the status of the Portarlington Safe Harbour and Ferry projects. We kept a tab on where the people who approached our stand lived. As you would expect the majority was evenly split between Bellarine Peninsula residents and Melbourne residents but there was a significant number of people who lived in country Victoria who holiday on the Bellarine Peninsula and who would love an easy ferry access to Melbourne. We had many hundreds of people over the course of the day endorse the Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry concepts.

Below is a picture of our stand just after the doors were opened ..... we were just too busy to take any photos for the rest of the day!

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