An early start from Martha's Cove was needed to reach Port Phillip Heads by slack tide. This is the moment between the flood and ebb tides when the Heads are at their most benign to travel through. Pelican had some guests arrive early at the marina and pictured below are some of our fellow travellers.

On the right in the photo above, you can see some of the housing development at Martha's Cove, which I learnt is due to be demolished as they built without following proper permit conditions. It seems the marina is now under receivership. 


It was not a warm day and the conditions were promising to be a little bit rough. Pictured L to R of our intrepid sea travellers are Lisa Smith from the Aboriginal School in Melbourne, Sally Nowlan from Media at Parks Vic, Carolyn Briggs- Boonwurrung Elder, Andrew Vance- science teacher and writer of Two Bays curriculum and Greg Muller- producer at Radio National's Bush Telegraph. Not pictured are John Tunn, archeologist from Parks Victoria, Alice Ewing, volunteer for the seabird survey, Clinton George from the Aboriginal school and Alex Korte-Indigenous Coastal Ranger from Parks Vic.

One of the key reasons for the development of the Two Bays program, besides conducting marine research, is to share knowledge and bring a broad range of people together who manage or are interested in caring for sea country.


Aunty Carolyn and Ranger Alex Korte (also from Boonwurrung tribe)


Beneath the waters and not far from where this photo was taken lies the underwater waterfall at Port Phillip Heads. The knowledge of this phenomenon was first shared with early colonial settlers who heard stories from local Aboriginal people of hunting across the plains of what is now a Bay. The settlers just dismissed this idea as swiftly as they ignored the rightful ownership of the land they were taking. It was only when marine mapping of the area was first done just over 10 years ago that the picture emerged of great changes in sea levels that finally created the Bays around 8,000 years ago. A great site for seeing the changes in sea-level in Australia as a whole is on SahulTime from Monash University.

The Boonwurrung tell the story of this massive change in their creation story of the Bay. This story is shared on an earlier blog post. It does seem extraordinary that we have a Culture here in Australia that has successfully survived and thrived on this country for 60,000 years and has managed through oral tradition, dance, painting and song to pass knowledge from generation to generation. And even with the upheaval and trauma of colonisation are still continuing to do so and have the generosity of spirit to share that knowledge with the newcomers. 

Two Bays has studied the exchange between Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait over a number of years and during the drought the Bay was much saltier than the fresher ocean outside (hypersaline). We theorised that perhaps this condition may cause the underwater waterfall to flow. Testing the currents with an accoustic doppler profiler, the EPA scientists and Dr Kerry Black indeed proved that to be so. this has been of great interest to the Boonwurrung elders who have been involved in the program. It is also proving a fertile link between the ancient knowledge and contemporary science. This link will be a key part of curriculum that is being written from the Two Bays project for schools. Andrew Vance, who was on board for this trip, is currently writing the curriculum for Pelican Expeditions.


The seas got a little bigger as we headed towards Cape Schank. Cape Schank is also an important place for the Boonwurrung and there is a place there known as Angel's cave that was a place where Bunjil (the creator spirit- a man who took the form of an eagle) stayed. 

Unfortunately many of our passengers suffered the occasional curse of sea travel and could not enjoy the magnificent rollers or the sight of land being obliterated by a wall of water. All lived to tell the tale but it is not a fun experience when it happens. 


Splashing on the deck of the Pelican, we were lucky but a couple of people managed a bucket load thrown at them!


Alex managed to get drenched just moments after this photo but was enjoying every moment of the ride.


Alice keeping an eye out for sea birds for Birds Australia. She saw sooty and fluttering shearwaters and she thinks also a common diving petrel.

We arrived at the jetty in Hastings by 5pm and as organised, a small bus arrived with Fran from Tiny's Tours to take everyone back to Martha's Cove. 

AuthorMichelle Quach