At the bottom of the state of Victoria lies the Bay of Port Phillip. This is separated from Bass Strait by the Mornington Peninsular to the southeast and Bass Strait to the southwest.
Entering the bay can be quite a treacherous experience with the entrance being quite narrow and the waters quite shallow with thick seaweed beds disguising the depth of the water.
Large ships require expert navigation through what is known as The Heads.
Once inside, Port Phillip Bay is an incredible place to explore. With 1,950 square kilometres there is always something new to discover.
From the soft sands of Point Lonsdale to the wild and rugged shores of Point Nepean and the beaches in between, the Bay provides many hours of pure enjoyment.
Here you can swim, fish, beachcombe, boat and relax anytime of the year. Be it Summer, Winter, Autumn or Spring, Melbourne's Port Phillip beaches provide opportunities for all ages to have fun.
The Bay was founded in 1802 by Acting Lieutenant John Murray Commander of the Lady Nelson. It was originally named Port King and later renamed Port Phillip Bay.
Since then The Bay has been honed, refined, developed and now boasts as having some of the most beautiful, safe and pristine beaches that you could ever find.
The Bay has 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.
Most sandy beaches are located on the bay's northern, eastern and southern shorelines, while the western shorelines host a few sandy beaches, swampy wetlands and mangroves.
The occasional pebble beach and rocky cliff faces can also be found, mostly in the southern reaches. Soft sand and clear shallow waters makes these bayside beaches a perfect place for you and your family to enjoy.
There are rugged cliffs to explore, rocky shallow inlets to snorkel in, private deserted beaches to indulge in a little naked sun-worshiping.
Due to the Bay's shallow depth, there are quite a few artificial forts and islands that have been built in the bay. One such Fort is the South Channel Fort. It is a reminder of the bay's early history as part of the defence lines for Melbourne.
The artificial island was constructed in the 1880's to light up the channel at night and electronically explode mines under attacking ships coming through the Heads. A system of outdated gun emplacements and tunnels are a feature of the island which is now a significant refuge for seabirds.
The Popes Eye was initially proposed for defence purposes also, however the partially constructed artificial island was never completed.
Another example of an artificial Island is the South Channel Pile Light and it is one of the most recognisable features in the bay. The cottage style lighthouse was completed in 1874 and was occupied by lighthouse keepers until the early 1900's.
The light was finally switched off in 1985, having operated as a navigational beacon for some 111 years. The structure has been recently restored by Parks Victoria in accordance with Heritage Victoria guidelines. It now stands proudly in the bay, a local diving attraction and home for the fur seal colonies.