Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group 4th Quarter 2018 Update

Portarlington Safe Harbour

Portarlington Pier Covered Walkway

Following is a summary of a  press release issued by the State Government prior to the recent State election:

Taking a trip on the Portarlington ferry service will be safer and dryer with a re-elected Andrews Labor Government to build a new covered walkway along the Portarlington Pier.

As a Government, we said we’d deliver the Portarlington Safe Harbour project and guarantee a Portarlington to Docklands ferry service, and we have.

The $15 million Portarlington Safe Harbour project includes two rock breakwaters to the east and north of the pier, a new 190-metre long concrete commercial berthing area and 27 commercial berths serviced with water and electricity.

This has boosted the local aquaculture industry and increased tourism and economic growth across the Bellarine Peninsula, but there’s more to do.

A re-elected Labor Government will invest $550,000 to build a new covered walkway from the beachfront to the ferry berths on Portarlington Pier.

This will make sure passengers stay dry and safe as they walk along the 190-metre long pier.

Tourism is an important part of the local economy and the number of people commuting to and from Melbourne by ferry will increase into the future. This is why the Labor Government is building upon the Portarlington service with a ferry trial between Geelong and Melbourne to give workers an alternative transport route.

Only a re-elected Labor Government will build the facilities Portarlington Pier needs to give passengers a better trip on the ferry to help grow passenger numbers and the industry.

Premier Daniel Andrews said

“We said we’d deliver the Portarlington Safe Harbour project and guarantee ferry services to Docklands and we have but it’s a long walk from the ferry to the beach when it’s raining.”

“Only Labor will build the walkway Portarlington Pier needs to keep passengers safe and dry between the ferry and the beach.”

Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville added

“The safe harbour and the ferry service have been embraced by local residents, the aquaculture industry and tourists.  They are contributing to jobs and tourism on the Bellarine Peninsula.”

“Just like the dedicated ferry berth did, the covered walkway will enhance the experience for all ferry users.”

Below are a couple of concept ideas for a covered walkway


While these are concepts only they do provide an idea of what a covered walkway could look like.

Old Pier

Parks Victoria have installed fencing and signs to close access to the old Portarlington Pier due to the poor condition of the concrete.  It is important not to go under the old pier as loose pieces of concrete can fall off. 

Automated Gate

An automated gate has been installed on the entrance to the commercial wharf, please note that public access is restricted to this area of the pier. The gate is operational from Friday 7 December.


A  "Rakali" has been sighted among the rocks. A rakali is an Australian native water-rat also known as Australia's "otter". It's a very attractive animal weighing up to 1.3 kilograms which is about the size of a medium sized platypus.  Rakali feed on marine organisms such as mussels which are growing on the breakwater.  These native mammals are excellent indicators of ecosystem health.

Bellarine Ferry

New Timetable for the Bellarine Ferry.

Port Phillip Ferries have a new timetable for the Bellarine Ferry effective December 1st 2018.

The following information has been provided by Port Phillip Ferries on the reasons for the changes to the timetable. The changes reflect their ongoing commitment to provide the best service they can.

"We can officially announce that the travel time has been reduced by 10 minutes, with the travel time now equating to 80 minutes of cruising bliss. This travel time has been achieved by increased speeds across the bay and up the Yarra River.

The new timetable also allows better flexibility and more time for Melbourne visitors to experience a day trip on the Bellarine and Portarlington.

Port Phillip Ferries numbers have grown over 50 per cent from last year and the word is certainly getting out about all the great packages and experiences visitors can enjoy at either end.

Some departure times have been tweaked at both ends, so it’s important to check the website for any changes. Some services are leaving earlier so we don’t want you to miss the boat. We are still continuing with 2 return services per day, over 365 days a year.

Important to note the commuter service times have not changed, so that remains a constant for the loyal supporters that travel to Melbourne for work. We are so pleased to see the continual increase in commuter numbers, currently sitting around 60- 80 most days.

We strongly recommend pre-booking tickets on line, or at the Portarlington Post Office and Docklands Café, as summer approaches. Just this weekend we had 300 people cruise across on the Sunday and depart in the afternoon from Portarlington. We are certain there will be many services sold out in the peak time

Thanks to everyone for their ongoing support and hope to see you on board soon".

The new timetable is shown below plus a reminder of the fare structure.

As usual we recommend that you keep checking the Port Phillip Ferries website to keep up to date with the latest news.

As the holiday period approaches we wish you a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Geoff and John

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


 How is the ferry 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 Monday to Friday patronage but it’s the packaging with other businesses that are most effective.

People are really drawn to having an entire experience mapped out for them, with a one stop shop on Port Phillip Ferries website. Therefore partnerships with the likes of the Q Train, Terindah Estate and others, are making a big difference to passenger numbers.

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.


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