Save Portsea Front Beach

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We are losing Portsea Front Beach

Since the deepening of the entrance to Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay the iconic Portsea Front Beach, nestled close to the bay entrance, has been washed away.

PICTURED:

Portsea Beach November 2020- rocks, sandbags, and rough water

Portsea Beach 2009- a sandy cove with calm, safe water                         (photographer David Mitchener, care of Visit Victoria)

Why does this matter?

Portsea Front Beach has profound historic and environmental significance.

  • Its ancient middens hold the history of the Boonerwrung people.
  •  Its famous 100metre-long pier was first built by settlers in 1860.
  • Its previously crystal-clear water with fish laden underwater reefs, is home to Victoria’s emblem, the unique weedy sea dragon.

Portsea front Beach has been a central community space used by swimmers, snorkelers and divers of all ages, from all walks of life.

  • It has been a famous, greater-Melbourne treasure, attracting national and international visitors
  • It was the home of the famous Portsea Swim Classic, an iconic event on the international swim calendar, which has had to be relocated.
  • It was the go-to learn-to dive site for thousands of scuba-divers.
  • These are now eroded memories.

What has happened?

In 2008 the Port Phillip Channel Deepening Project was undertaken to deepen the shipping channels leading to Melbourne, despite strong opposition from scientists and the community. The dredging has resulted in a dangerous swell that has washed away the beach and threatened nearby properties.

The newly exposed rocky shoreline and strong tides have rendered the water unsafe for swimmers and divers alike.

Beaches up stream are being choked with sand washed-in from Portsea and the bay, This movement of sand is threatening jetties, compromising moorings and also creating a hazardous passage for the Sorrento-Queenscliff Ferry.

Why hasn’t something been done?

Two engineering reports indicate the erosion is most likely due to the channel deepening. Unfortunately, successive State Governments have refused to take responsibility for the damage caused. After already spending $8 million the responsible government department, the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) agreed in 2018 to investigate potential solutions to restore the Portsea Beach.  This has not materialised and the protective sand bag wall, recently re-erected, guarantees the sandy beach will never return.

What needs to be done?

The State government and DELWP must engage with the local community and commit to a long-term, environmentally sound solution to resurrect this vital community asset.

A protective barrier, built out into the bay from the end of the beach (a groyne), would check the erosion, and bring sand back to the beach and stop the movement of sand upstream, as well as helping to restore the marine habitat. This would be further aided by other measures to stop the swell.

We call on the Victorian State Government to immediately commit to restoring the Portsea Front Beach for the people of Victoria by investing in long-term solutions.

Please, sign and share this petition to ensure Portsea Front Beach is restored for the people of Victoria and for protection of the environment for future generations.