Portarlington safe harbour update April 2021

Parks Victoria has released a Community Update re Portarlington pier improvement works.  Read it here

Parks Victoria has also provided a Frequently Asked Questions that covers an array of topics re works and timelines.  Read it here

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group 3rd Quarter 2019 Update.

Portarlington Safe Harbour

 Pier Lights

 The pier lights on the new pier are up and look great.


Unfortunately a truck going down the pier recently has knocked the light pole nearest the shore down and it will have to be replaced.

The covered walkway planned will provide for people walking down the pier to be separated from vehicles using the pier.

Covered walkway Status

Parks Victoria has engaged a consultant to develop design options.  It is our expectation that the options will be put out for public consultation.

Hard Material Dredging

The Hard Material Dredging project will most likely commence in the new year subject to the availability of a swing bottom barge (which is currently on a project in Sydney Harbour).  Once delivered this project will improve the safe operating environment within the harbour primarily for the ferry when accessing  the ferry berth. The dredging area is inside the harbour south east of the ferry berth.

Bellarine Ferry

Passenger Numbers

Spring has sprung, and this means that Port Phillip Ferries, Portarlington township and the Bellarine, are experiencing the expected increase in numbers as the weather warms up.

The ferry is seeing the larger groups starting to come through again, along with a consistent increase in patronage year on year.

The steadily growing commuter numbers are very encouraging, and Port Phillip Ferries are witnessing more commuters coming from further afar. Some of the newer commuters are now coming from Ocean Grove and more recently, a Leopold resident has given up the trains to enjoy the game changing commute. The train disruptions in early October saw commuter numbers almost double for that week, and there are hopes that some of these people will make the permanent change of utilising the ferry service.

A number of commuters have celebrated milestones with some reaching 3 years of ferry travel. You might have seen the recent front page of the Bellarine Times with a story around these happy commuters, read it here


Seniors week has come around for another year, and once again, its breaking records. Wednesday, October 9, saw some 250 travellers unload into Portarlington for the day, and the rest of the week saw many excited seniors going between both destinations.

Port Phillip Ferries personnel are gearing up towards the launch of their second service, to Geelong.  Just to clarify for some people this is a new service that operates between Geelong and Docklands and does not impact on the Portarlington service to the Docklands. A new ferry is being built in Tasmania and is nearly completed and is scheduled for arrival into Port Phillip Bay, early November.  The plans are to commence daily services on December 2nd. The more crew members Port Phillip Ferries employs, the better the coverage is for the Portarlington service  in times of sickness etc.

It was great to see good numbers of ferry passengers getting off the ferry at the weekend.


This will be the last quarterly update as both the Safe Harbour and Ferry projects are up and running. We will keep the email addresses list open and report to you when there is a significant item happening that we believe would be of interest to you. We would like to thank you all for the support and encouragement you have given us over the last 13 years. We knew the building of the Portarlington Safe Harbour was crucial for our mussel, fishing and tourist industry and the introduction of the ferry service to Melbourne would be a game changer for Portarlington and the rest of the Bellarine.   

Geoff & John.

Portarlington Safe Harbour and Bellarine Ferry Group 2nd Quarter 2019 update

Portarlington Safe Harbour

Covered Ferry Walk

Our local member Lisa Neville has been a great supporter of the Portarlington Safe Harbour. As she promised at the last State Election a sum of $600,000 was included in the May State Budget to build a new covered ferry walkway from the beachfront to the ferry berth ensuring a safer and drier service for all users.

Parks Victoria will have the job of building the walkway and it is expected construction will begin next year.

New light poles

Lighting upgrades – Parks Victoria has engaged a contractor to remove the old light poles from the closed section of the Portarlington Pier and install new light poles on the new section of the pier to ensure that there is adequate lighting using the pier in the evening and early morning

Sea Grass Removal

Sea grass in the harbour and on the beach – Parks Victoria in consultation with Bellarine Bayside is in the process of engaging a contractor to remove the accumulated dead sea grass from the beaches within the harbour area.  They are also monitoring the accumulation of sand to the east of the harbour to determine if it is timely to remove some and relocate it to the west of the pier.

Western Wave Protection

In the year ahead, Parks Victoria is planning to undertake a technical investigation of the western wave protection to ensure it is effective and to examine options to reduce the potential impacts on the beach to the west of the pier.

Sand Dredging

It is likely that Parks Victoria will undertake sand dredging within the harbour prior to summer (this is dependent upon availability of the dredge), they are also aiming to undertake the hard material removal in a section of the harbour to improve access for the Bellarine Ferry and commercial vessels.

 Bellarine Ferry

Another financial year comes around and Port Phillip Ferries is happy to report that they continue to experience growth. They are sitting at around 30% growth on passenger numbers compared to the last financial year. Their commuter numbers are nearly double from the same time last year and they welcome all the new faces on board.

 Many of these new people are recent arrivals to the Bellarine, which is very encouraging for the community. They are still hoping to attract more commuters to the service, and this may even include more students who need to attend university in Melbourne a few days a week. As many of the commuters have moved to the region chasing a lifestyle change, it is witnessed that some of them travel 3 or 4 days a week and work at home for the others.

The tourism and visitor market has been wonderful. The ferry has partnered with some great products to offer up complete packages and experiences for visitors to enjoy. They also work hard via their marketing, PR and social media, to promote all that Portarlington and the greater region has to offer. The challenge for them, and all other businesses in the region, is how to encourage higher visitation for the full 12 months of the year.

The countdown is on towards the commencement of the Geelong service in December. The new vessel is underway, being built in Tasmania, and the team are busy getting all aspects of the business in order. The launch of the Geelong service will bring greater attention and awareness of the ferry product, and we believe this will benefit both destinations.

Don’t forget the fabulous offer of half price travel for seniors for the rest of winter, valid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Travel to the Footy

Great way to travel to the footy.

On Sunday July 21st catch the game between the Cats and Hawks at the MCG.

Leave Portarlington to catch the game at the MCG before heading back on the 6:15pm service.

Arrive at Victoria Harbour – right beneath Marvel Stadium – at 10:20am, which will give you plenty of time to explore the Big Smoke and have a bite to eat before heading to the game at 1.10pm.

Getting into the city from Docklands is easy. Jump off the ferry and straight onto the No 70 & 75 free trams into the city at Docklands – or take a short walk to Southern Cross to catch a quick train from the CBD to the MCG.

On Sunday 28th July the Bulldogs play the Fremantle Dockers at Marvel Stadium.

Join the fans travelling in comfort. Enjoy the Cafe and the ferry delivers you right opposite the Marvel Stadium. The Barwon Bulldogs have worked with the Western Bulldogs to make this great day for Bellarine Ferry passengers. Come along as there will be a number of unique things for the footy fans to do....it will be a great day.

Book your tickets via the Port Phillip Ferries web site  www.portphillipferries.com.au

Whales in the Bay

Whales have been sighted from the ferry so you may be lucky next time you travel.

Geoff and John

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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