Port Phillip (also commonly referred to as Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just The Bay), is a large bay in southern Victoria
; it is the location of Melbourne
. Geographically, the bay covers 1,930 square kilometres (480,000 acres) and the shore stretches roughly 264 km (164 mi). Although it is extremely shallow for its size, most of the bay is navigable. The deepest portion is only 24 metres (79 ft), and half the region is shallower than 8 m (26 ft). The volume of the water in the bay is around 25 cubic kilometres (6.0 cu mi).
Prior to British settlement the area around Port Phillip was divided between the territories of the Wathaurong (to the west), Wurundjeri (north) and Boonwurrung (south and east) Nations. Its waters and coast are home to seals, whales, dolphins, corals and many kinds of seabirds and migratory waders.The first British to enter the bay were the crews of the HMS Lady Nelson, commanded by John Murray and, ten weeks later, the HMS Investigator commanded by Matthew Flinders, in 1802.
Port Phillip lies in southern Victoria, separated from Bass
Strait by the Bellarine Peninsula to the southwest and Mornington Peninsula
to the southeast. It is the largest bay in Victoria and one of the largest inland bays in Australia.The narrow entrance to the bay, called the Rip, between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean, features strong tidal streams made turbulent by the uneven contours of the seabed.
The eastern side of the bay is characterised by sandy beaches extending from St Kilda
, Sandringham, Beaumaris, Carrum, and down the Mornington Peninsula to Frankston
, Safety Beach/Dromana
and Rye to Portsea
. Longshore drift carries sand from south to north during winter and from north to south during summer. Cliff erosion control has often resulted in sand starvation, necessitating offshore dredging to replenish the beach.
Port Phillip hosts many beaches, most of which are flat, shallow and long, with very small breaks making swimming quite safe. This attracts many tourists, mostly families, to the beaches of Port Phillip during the summer months and school holidays. Water sports such as body boarding and surfing are difficult or impossible, except in extreme weather conditions.
However, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), kite surfing and wind surfing are very popular. Most sandy beaches are located on the bay's northern, eastern and southern shorelines, while the western shorelines host a few sandy beaches, there mostly exists a greater variety of beaches, swampy wetlands and mangroves. The occasional pebble beach and rocky cliffs can also be found, mostly in the southern reaches.
Rivers and creeks
Original flora and fauna
The animals he observed as a young boy were "immense droves of kangaroos, brush kangaroos or wallaby, bandicoots, (two varieties) , great opossum, (two varieties) , ring tail, flying squirrel, flying mouse, dingoes or wild dogs in the gullies, that were caught in box traps with sliding doors, porcupine ant eater or echidna that were at the back of Arthur's Seat mountain, the great iguana, tree lizard- 5 feet, python, and the rock or sleeping lizard."
The trees were Coast Banksia, Honey suckle, and grass trees "with crowns for thatching". The gum of Xanthorrhoea australis was used for carriage varnish.
In the waters of the bay he described "scallop shells which were used as an oil lamp with a bulrush wick, banks of cockles covered with birds, grey and white gulls, a 13-16 lb size schnapper ground off Mt Martha Point, mutton fish or venus ear- bait, coatfish, parrot fish, leather jackets, flathead, dog fish, sting rays, shark tailed rays, and pig fish (Castracion) "that he thought to be " very old."
On the beaches could be sighted pelicans, penguins, Grey and grey white gull, called “bungan” by aborigines (the Bunurong Mayone-bulluk clan), Small white and lavender gull, Pied oyster catchers, terns, cormorants, the little sandpiper, and musk ducks.
In timbers near the flats were "many varieties of parrots, Lorry, Rosella, Blue mountain or honeysuckle parrot, Sulphur –crested white cockatoo, Black cockatoo of two kinds, Grey cockatoo with scarlet crest and Corella or cockatoo parrot."
The bay is one of Victoria's most popular tourist destinations. Many residents of Melbourne holiday on the shorelines of the bay, particularly the eastern and southern shorelines, most annually, either camping in tents, caravan or villas in caravan parks, sharing rental houses or staying in holiday homes.
Recreation and sport
Port Phillip's mostly flat topography and moderate waves make perfect conditions for recreational swimming, kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing, boating, scuba diving, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and other sports.
Port Phillip is home to 36 Yacht clubs. It also hosts the Melbourne to Hobart and Melbourne to Launceston Yacht Races. Port Phillip is also home to a number of marinas, including large marinas at St Kilda, Geelong
and Brighton. For the 1956 Summer Olympics, it hosted the sailing events.
Dozens of lifesaving clubs dot Port Phillip, especially on the east coast from Altona to Frankston. These clubs provide volunteer lifesaving services and conduct sporting carnivals.Port Phillip is also known as a temperate water scuba diving destination. The shore dives from beaches and piers around the Bay provide a wide variety of experiences on day and night dives.