We are updating our history page so please stay tuned.  It will be a comprehensive journey that highlights all our small volunteer community group achieved and how we did it!

11 November 2011

While all our efforts have been directed towards getting the Portarlington Safe Harbour project back on track we are still getting requests to make ferry presentations from organisations on the Bellarine which indicates the overwhelming ongoing interest in the ferry. We have completed our Safe Harbour PowerPoint presentation. Initially we ran through the presentation with people who have background knowledge of the project. This included Elaine Carbines (currently the CEO of the Geelong Regional Alliance (G21) but who was previously directly involved with the project with Parks Victoria), and Lance Wiffen who is one of the major farmers in the Bellarine mussel industry.

On confirmation that we had covered all the relevant issues and we had all the facts correct we have begun working through our list of people/organisations to arrange presentations to. Our meeting with Terry Demeo, the Manager, Planning Strategy & Economic Development at City of Greater Geelong, who is also the Champion of this project for the Geelong Council went well. As can be imagined Terry is right across this project and his input was very insightful. We also received valuable feedback from the new Barwon South West Regional Director of the Department of Primary Industries, Wayne Morgan. Wayne while being new to the position immediately saw the importance of this project and was very helpful. Next on our list are various State Government Ministers as this project touches a number of Government Departments.

We have also had three recent articles in Geelong and regional newspapers which can be viewed at In the News.

 11 August 2011

As detailed in prior news, the failure of the prior State Government to continue work on the Portarlington Safe Harbour, which was announced with much fanfare in November 2009 after major public consultation, has been the focus of our actions over the past few months.

While we have a number of ferry operators with written notifications to the Department of Transport that they wish to operate the service, we agree with the Department that the first stage of the new Safe Harbour must be completed before a daily Bellarine to Melbourne ferry service can begin. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss the ferry plan with the new CEO of Searoadferries, Mr Matt McDonald. Searoadferries operate the long standing Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry service and Mr McDonald has had operating experience captaining vessels both overseas and in Australia, we were especially interested in his extensive experience skippering vessels on Port Phillip. He confirmed that the vessels we have used in our studies were suitable for the bay conditions and also that Portarlington was an appropriate starting point for the service. Our travel time of 42 minutes was rechecked and confirmed. This confirmation from a service provider that has never missed a sailing due to bad weather in well over 20 years on the bay was good to receive.

An action plan to get the Safe Harbour project moving again has been drawn up and meetings have started with all relevant parties and in particular the local mussel industry. While it appears inevitable that the harbour will have to have some private investment it is our aim to push for the first stage to be government funded. This is to protect the mooring fees of the Port Phillip mussel operators who operate out of the existing Portarlington harbour, along with the two ferry berths allocated in the new safe harbour plan.

The existing harbour has only a short-term life after temporary repairs were carried out in 2007/8. The pier structure was deteriorating to such a state that the mussel operators had to halve the size of the transport that they used on the pier to move their harvested mussels off the pier. That same pier structure issue also affects the safety and activities of the local CFA unit, which is limited on the size of the water tankers that they can move onto the pier in response to fire on berthed vessels.

So it is not a case of not if, but rather when the new harbour is built, which in turn will allow the ferry service to operate.

 19 February 2011 In our update earlier this month we said there would be an announcement later in February detailing the plans we had been working on over the holiday period. That announcement was made in the local Bellarine “Echo” newspaper on February 17th and for those people who have not seen the article it is reproduced on our In the News page. Kurt Reiter is a strong supporter of the establishment of a regular ferry service between the Bellarine and Melbourne. Having Kurt as a committee member will make it easier for us to get access to the State Government. This will enable us to keep planning on track for the Portarlington Safe Harbour (announced by the prior State Government in November 2009) which in turn will enable the ferry service to have a suitable docking facility on the Bellarine.

 12 February 2011

We have been busy over the holiday period and have a plan to move forward to take account of the change in the State Government. We are currently having discussions with the new State Government and our plan is to invite a member of the Liberal Party to join the Bellarine Ferry Group. We will keep you informed and expect to make an announcement during February.

The status of our two main objectives is:

1. Ferry We have a number of ferry companies (both local and overseas) wanting to run the daily ferry service after reviewing all the data we have These companies have notified the Department of Transport in writing that they wish to be involved in running the proposed Bellarine Ferry Service between Portarlington and Port Melbourne. The Department of Transport has indicated to us that they want to see the new Portarlington Safe Harbour (stage one) completed first before handling these notification of interests. We agree with this stance as the ferry service must have an all weather berthing facility to operate effectively and the State Government's published New Portarlington Safe Harbour plans are ideal to meet this objective.

2. Portarlington Safe Harbour Due to the scheduled finishing of the State Government’s Community Building Initiative (CBI) at the end of February 2011, the Portarlington Safe Harbour committee formed under the CBI program has decided to officially disband and members of that committee have agreed to join the Bellarine Ferry committee as both groups have common goals. Recent statements by the Minister of Transport, Terry Mulder that the massive projected costs of the Regional Rail Link (a 47 kilometre rail line from central Melbourne to Werribee designed to provide separate rail tracks for Metro and V/line services) of $4.3 billion has led to the State Government to seriously relook at this project. The blowout in costs could ultimately lead to the abandonment of the plan. The Rail Link situation re-emphasizes the importance of the Bellarine ferry service where a large part of the Melbourne transport needs of the 50,000+ people on the Bellarine can be met by the ferry which in turn will reduce the traffic situation out of Geelong. So in summary, our main activities are now directed at getting the first stage of the Portarlington Safe Harbour (which contains the ferry berths) as promised by the prior State Government realized. This is the major hurdle in getting the ferry service up and running. We will continue our discussions with the new State Government.

6 December 2010  Bellarine Ferry and Portarlington Safe Harbour Update 

In our November Ferry Update we promised to inform you of what Portarlington Safe Harbour/Ferry related promises were made by the Labor and Liberal candidates for the seat of Bellarine in the run up to the State Election, which was held on the 27th November 2010.

In brief there were none. It appears that because the seat was considered a safe seat neither candidate got the OK from their party to announce expenditure on the Safe Harbour / Ferry. 

The good news is that as a result of the election the seat is now considered one of the most marginal seats in the state which means at long last infrastructure monies will  be directed towards the Bellarine Peninsula. As the Safe Harbour / Ferry  is on the G21 priority list we have high hopes that it will happen in the foreseeable future.

Kurt Reiter the Liberal candidate has contacted the Bellarine Ferry Group and has made the following points:-

·       He has been asked by the Liberal party to stay on as the Liberal candidate for the next election whether it be in 2014 or sooner (i.e. as a result of a by-election). He has confirmed that he will run again.

·       He rang Lisa Neville to congratulate her on her re-election and noted the fact that while they disagree on most issues impacting on the Bellarine, they both agree on the importance of the Safe Harbour / Ferry for the Bellarine’s future.

·       He confirmed that both the Safe Harbour and Ferry remain part of the coalition’s agenda.

·       As he wanted to remain active in the local community he offered to join the Bellarine Ferry Group as a committee member.

Lisa Neville has stated publicly that even though she now is part of the opposition she is focusing on a number of projects that impact the Bellarine including securing funding for the Portarlington Safe Harbour / Ferry. In the November issue of Portarlington’s “The Port Report” Ms Neville wrote “we have completed a ferry usage study which now enables potential ferry operators to work with the Department of Transport on developing a proposal to deliver a ferry service once the infrastructure is complete. This is an important project and I am pleased that work is continuing to ensure the Safe Harbour remains a priority for Portarlington and the Bellarine.”

The next committee meeting of the ferry group is scheduled for January 2011 where the election result will be considered and future actions agreed upon.

In summary it is pleasing now to see the Safe Harbour/Ferry project referred to by both parties as “when” and not ”if”.

12 November 2010  Bellarine Ferry and Portarlington Safe Harbour Update 

In our last update we notified you of the “Meet the Candidates”  Town Hall meeting for the upcoming Victorian state government elections, which was held in Portarlington on November 10th for all candidates contesting the seat of Bellarine.
This update is a summary of that meeting:-
All six Bellarine candidates were at the meeting which was the only public town hall meeting to be held on the Bellarine for this election. 
Our main interest obviously was with the sitting Labor member, Lisa Neville and the Liberal candidate Kurt Reiter (pronounced “Writer”).
 When asked directly “If elected will you support the proposed Portarlington Safe Harbour and if so, when will you commit to begin the project in 2011?” both candidates said they supported the project and both said they would be making important announcements in the next 17 days concerning the Safe Harbour / Ferry.  
Kurt stated that he had taken the last 11 months off work to concentrate on his campaign and held a number of town hall meetings across the Bellarine to find out what the major issues are for the region. He said that the Ferry was his number one objective if elected, and that the Safe Harbour was a requirement for the ferry to operate safely in Portarlington. 
Lisa Neville repeated and added to her prior statement of support, that work on the Safe Harbour was continuing in the background as the relevant government departments completed all the necessary tasks that were required to build a new Safe Harbour. One example she gave was the preparation of an environment impact statement. 
The audience showed their support for the Safe Harbour / Ferry so all in all it was a good result for us.
We now await the Portarlington Safe Harbour / Ferry announcements from the candidates and will update you accordingly.

1 November 2010 

As we reported in our prior update we have been working hard on two fronts:

·       establishing an actual start date for the building of the Portarlington Safe Harbour which will include provision for two ferries to operate between The Bellarine and Melbourne

·       having the Department of Transport talking to interested ferry operators

The Victorian State Election which is to be held at the end of November should provide clarification on both of these issues.

Recently in a press article by Lisa Neville (Bellarine lower house representative and a Minister in the State Government) when commenting on the results of the Government’s survey to estimate the number of potential ferry users, ended her article by saying: 

The results of the survey are a good starting point for proponents considering the viability of a ferry service. The Victorian Government is now encouraging genuine interested proponents to work with us to further develop options for a viable ferry service.”  

On gaining this green light we contacted the ferry companies we have been liaising with and to date two notification of interest documents have been forwarded to the State Government. Remaining interested parties continue to review the service and we are confident further applications will follow when policies are announced by all parties.   

We met with Lisa Neville and Gayle Tierney (upper house representative for Bellarine) on Friday, October 29th. to discuss the Safe Harbour.

Lisa is looking forward to participating in the “Meet the Candidates” meeting with other Bellarine candidates to be held on November 10th at 7.00pm in Portarlington Parks Hall.

Our key focus is the Safe Harbour commencement date and what funds each candidate will commit to this work beginning in 2011. Lisa was delighted that interested ferry operators had taken up her offer to contact the Department of Transport and also asked us to contact her if any problems were encountered and she would become involved with both the Department of Transport and the Ferry Operators.

Lisa further commented that having the Safe Harbour project on the priority list of G21 was very significant to the State Government as it showed that this project was supported by all relevant bodies.

We also met with the Liberal candidate Kurt Reiter in mid October who has been a great supporter of establishing a regular ferry service. His “Town Hall” meeting held in Portarlington with shadow ministers present, attracted 317 residents from across the Bellarine, showed overwhelming support for the Ferry/Safe Harbour project.

Attendance is vital at the “Meet the Candidates” meeting at the Portarlington Parks Hall at 7.00pm on Wednesday November 10th to support the Ferry and Safe Harbour projects, as no doubt they will be high on the agenda that evening.

August 2010 - Update

For some time now we have been stating that our two major objectives are:-

      1.     To get the Victorian Government to begin the first stage of the new Portarlington Safe Harbour (this stage includes two ferry berths) and

      2.     To get the Department of Transport talking to interested ferry operators about running a regular ferry service between the Bellarine Peninsula (Portarlington) and Melbourne (Station Pier).

We have been working actively on both these objectives and the current status is as follows:-

Portarlington Safe Harbour

We are very pleased to report that the Portarlington Safe Harbour has not only been added to the G21 list of projects but has been included in G21’s top 15 Priority Projects listing for 2010/11.

You may very well ask two questions, what is G21 and why is having the Safe Harbour added to their priority listing important?

G21 is the formal alliance of Government, business and community organizations which is aimed at working together to improve people’s lives in the Geelong Region. In reality nothing of a major infrastructure nature happens in the Region unless it comes through the G21 system. Being on the top 15 priority listing means G21 focuses on these projects and actively promotes them to all levels of Government.

The State Government supports the concept of G21 and in fact is looking at rolling the concept out to other regions in Victoria. 

The Bellarine Ferry Group met with the G21 CEO, Elaine Carbines on August 12tht and we are confident that G21 will do whatever they can to get this project started.

For further information on G21 please visit their website : Geelong Region Alliance.

The Department of Transport

The Bellarine Ferry Group met with the Strategic Planning & Development section of the Department of Transport on July 26th. The Department made it clear that the completion of the first stage of the new Portarlington Safe Harbour is key to any further discussion on a ferry service.  As our group has always supported this stance a lot of our actions in the near future will be focused on getting Stage One of the Portarlington Safe Harbour started.

Next Steps

We are waiting until the Federal Elections are out of the way so we can launch a number of actions to make the most of the upcoming Victorian State Elections which are scheduled for late November.

 July 2010 - Ferry Passenger Demand Estimation Survey Results
The long overdue Passenger Demand Estimation Survey for the proposed Portarlington to Melbourne Ferry was released on Friday, July 9th 2010.
The Bellarine Ferry Group and the City of Greater Geelong were briefed on the results by Parks Victoria and the company that conducted the survey Ipsos-Eureka Social Research Institute.

Key findings were:-

·         That Bellarine residents were dissatisfied with current access to Melbourne at peak times, due to considerable pressure on the public transport services and to congested roads.

·         It was estimated that Bellarine residents take around 28,200 trips to Melbourne each week.

·         Between 15,000 to 16,000 trips are for work purposes and the balance for personal, leisure and social purposes.

·         That potential passenger numbers would be impacted by the cost of fares charged.

·         For study purposes a $30 return trip was used and a conservative (deflated) estimated daily passenger rate of 900 return trips a day was projected.

·         That improved transport links to Melbourne would encourage families to remain in the Bellarine Peninsula, and encourage families to move to the Bellarine Peninsula.

·         The long distances that need to be covered by land to Melbourne may make a fast ferry service across Port Phillip to Port Melbourne a potentially viable alternative i.e.  the journey time would be significantly less than the next best alternative.

 It should be noted the survey did not take into account any tourist or children passenger numbers in its estimates.

 The full report can be obtained from the Parks Victoria web site, www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

The Bellarine Ferry Group’s Secretary, Mr. John Rae said “The report basically confirms what we had determined over the last three and half years working on this project. While we understand the passenger numbers quoted in the press release were related to a nominal $30 return price point we have always maintained that the ferry’s fare should be similar to the Geelong to Melbourne return train fare which would obviously increase these numbers even more”.

3rd June 2010 - Overwhelming Support for the Bellarine Ferry

The Bellarine Ferry Group (BFG) was asked to present the case for a regular daily ferry service from The Bellarine (Portarlington) to Melbourne (Station Pier) at a public meeting held in Portarlington’s Parks Hall on Wednesday night, June 2nd 2010. The meeting was called by the Liberal candidate for the Bellarine (Kurt Reiter) in the upcoming Victorian State election to  ascertain  community  support  for  the  project.

Shadow ministers Terry Mulder [Transport and Roads]  and  Denis Napthine   [Ports and Regional cities] were  also  present. The attendance  exceeded  our  expectation  with  317  people from  across  The  Bellarine  and  Melbourne  attending. The Bellarine Ferry Group made a presentation and then took questions from the floor.

When asked what were the next steps the Bellarine Ferry Group nominated two main actions:

  • The Victorian State Government to  provide funding  and  a start date no  later  than  2011  to build   stage one of the Portarlington Safe Harbour which they announced in November 2009.  This  stage  contains  two  ferry  berths.
  • The Victorian Department of Transport to  call  for  expressions  of  interest  in  operating the service  immediately. This  will enable the selected ferry operator, sufficient time to have all aspects of the ferry service tested and fine tuned by the time the first stage of the Portarlington Safe Harbour is completed.

In summary the meeting was in strong agreement that the current road and rail access to Melbourne for Bellarine residents was woefully inadequate (especially during peak times) and that there was an urgent need for the introduction as soon as possible of a regular ferry service. It was also clear that this topic is going to be a major electoral issue for the Bellarine ward during the upcoming state election.

May 2010

The Bellarine Ferry Group (BFG) has developed a formal presentation on the potential of a daily ferry service from the Bellarine to Melbourne. Over the last 15 months the group has made many presentations to interested groups right around the Bellarine Peninsula. For example at the end of May the group presented to around 75 people from the Ocean Grove Probus Club on this exciting and visionary project.

February 2010

1. Members of the Bellarine Ferry Group met with the Bellarine’s lower house representative Lisa Neville for an update meeting on the progress of obtaining a regular ferry service between Portarlington and Melbourne. The group informed the Minister that the original driver for obtaining a regular ferry service i.e. the difficulty in getting to Melbourne by either road or rail from the Bellarine had become progressively worse over the three years the group has been formed. 

The Minister reviewed in detail all the work carried out by the group over the last three years. The group also advised the Minister that the vibes the group were picking up from its regular community update meetings and from the recent Portarlington Mussel Festival (attended by over 10,000 people) was that the community wanted action this year on getting a regular service committed to by the State Government.

The two items specially requested by the Ferry Group to achieve this commitment from the State Government were:

1.    Include the first stage of the New Portarlington Safe Harbour (which includes provision for two 300 capacity ferry berths) in this year’s State Government financial budget due to be announced in May 2010.

2.    Have the Department of Transport tender out the running of the ferry ASAP to allow the operator time to sensibly set up a sound operating service plus also be available to work with the builders of the new Portarlington Safe Harbour to ensure the new structure meets the ferries operating requirements.

The Minister at the close of the meeting assured the Ferry Group that stage one of the new Portarlington Safe Harbour was in her top five requirements for this year’s State Budget.

2. The Bellarine Ferry Group also welcomed in February the Minister for Community Development Lily D'Ambrosio. Minister D'Ambrosio visited Portarlington to see firsthand the achievements of the Portarlington Community Building Initiative. 

She said that she was impressed with all of the achievements so far and paid particular attention to the Portarlington to Melbourne ferry initiative. 

She requested a tour of the existing harbour facility and wanted details of the new Safe Harbour project and where the ferry berths would be. After the review she indicated that she fully supported the initiative.  

For full details of Minister D'Ambrosio's visit see the article CBI Work Impresses D'Ambrosio 

November 2009

The Portarlington Safe Harbour Plan was officially presented to the community by Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings at a meeting of invited guests at Portarlington's Parks Hall.

In presenting the harbour plan, Mr. Jennings said the government understood the importance of the harbour to the people of the Bellarine Peninsula.

The new Safe Harbour Plan accommodates mussel farmers, commuter ferry berths, community facilities and provides a major tourism boost for the Bellarine Peninsula.

Portarlington Community Development Association chair and Bellarine Ferry group spokesperson  Mr. John Rae said he was delighted that two ferry berths had been included in the new Safe Harbour and he was "eagerly" waiting for the timetable to see when works would begin.

October 2009

The Portarlington Safe Harbour Plan was officially released by the State Government of Victoria on October 29th 2009.

The plan includes the provision for two ferry berths and has the full support of the Bellarine Ferry Group. It will take 10 years for the Safe Harbour complex to be fully completed but it is understood that the new ferry berths will be part of stage one of the project. It is planned to commence in 2010. Under stage one the the existing pier will be replaced with a new and expanded pier that will provide berthing facilities for the bay's mussel boats, visiting vessels such as the tall ships, and the ferry berths.

To see the final detailed plan of the Safe Harbour and further details can be obtained from the Parks Victoria web site www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

August 2009

Funding from a number of government departments for a survey into feasibilty of usage was announced in June and this study is currently being undertaken.

May 2009

The final Portarlington Safe Harbour Plan has been presented for the consideration to the Victorian Government.

The Bellarine Ferry Group awaits the outcome.

March 2009

The Bellarine Ferry Group believes that Parks Victoria, after taking into account the public submissions on the  Portarlington Safe Harbour have finalised the plan.  We understand the plan will now be costed and included in the state government’s 2009/10 budget process. While the group has not yet been shown the final plan we believe the following plan approximates the layout of the proposed new Safe Harbour.  If the position of the ferry terminals is correct the Bellarine Ferry Group fully
supports the plan layout as shown.

supports the plan layout as shown.

October 2008

The Department of Transport commissioned a consultant (Maunsell) to undertake a high level analysis of the potential viability of Port Phillip ferry commuter services in particular a service from Geelong to Melbourne.

The consultant found that a Geelong to Melbourne ferry service was questionable for a number of reasons including the fact that the ferry service would have to compete directly against an established road and rail system that ran between Geelong and Melbourne. The consultant did although point out that a ferry route may be potentially viable between Portarlington and Melbourne especially as regards travel time.

The report concluded that a potential travel time (of around 70 min) from Portarlington to Melbourne via Station Pier and then light rail to Melbourne vs the current trip by road from Portarlington in peak hour traffic (of over 120 min) would be a significant saving in travel time per day.

The Bellarine Ferry Group support most of the findings in the report although they believe the initial ferry cost shown is grossly over stated which if corrected would significantly improve the profitability of the route.

September 2008

Release of Draft Portarlington Safe Harbour Plans

Parks Victoria today released the draft Portarlington Safe Harbour plans for public comment.

Copies of the draft Master Plan Background Paper were available on the Parks Victoria website (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au), at Portarlington Health Centre (39 Fenwick Street, Portarlington) or by calling 13 1963. 

Feedback forms were also available to assist in the provision of comments. All feedback forms or other submissions should be sent to the address below by Friday 3 October 2008.  Submissions are now closed.

Portarlington Safe Harbour Plan
Parks Victoria
Level 10, 535 Bourke St
Melbourne Vic 3000
Email: Portarlington@parks.vic.gov.au


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