Where is Western Port?
16 March 2006
Western Port (also known as Western Port Bay) is an inlet on the southern coast of Australia on the Northern side of Bass Strait which is between Tasmania and the mainland. Western Port is adjacent and to the east of Port Phillip on which is sited Melbourne, the capital city of the state of Victoria.
So why 'Western Port'? It was named this because of its position relative to other known harbours on the coast at the time of it's discovery in 1797 by George Bass. Hesailed south from Sydney in a whaleboat along the unexplored coast south of Botany Bay and could not get more than halfway through the strait now known as Bass Strait because of the rough seas. He took refuge in what he called 'Western Port'.
Two large islands, French Island and Phillip Island dominate Western Port. Between the western tip of Phillip Island (approximately 100 kmē) and the mainland is the main commercial shipping entrance into the inlet.
There are a number of local tourist attractions on Phillip Island, including Penguin Reserve, Seal Rocks and Koala Conservation Centre. Phillip Island is also the site for an International Motor Cycling Racing circuit that is also used for local Car Racing meets.
French Island (approximately 170 kmē) offers a more 'back to nature' environment with access only by boat, with the main activities of camping, bushwalking, bird observing, horse riding and bike rides. There is also a Koala habitat on the island.
Historically, the Bunurong Indigenous Australian people lived around Western Port living off shellfish, mutton birds and plantlife. In the early 19th century, the bay played a role in the struggle between Britain and France. Soldiers and convicts from Sydney were ordered to form a camp at Western Port to deter possible occupation by the French. In the last 60 years the bay has been developed as a port on it's western side, where north of Stony and Crib Points a centre for heavy industry has been established.
Hakuna Matata (formerly Arranga) is based at the Western Port Marina in Hastings, the major town in the area, between Stony Point and Crib Point. I have only just acquired the boat to enable me to get back into sailing, something I have missed for more than a decade. For now, most of the sailing will be done within the Bay until I get to know the boat and feel more comfortable working solo. I am keen to venture out into Bass Strait in the future for extended weekend trips, and then more prolonged cruises around Bass Strait and across to Tasmania.
Even within the confines of Western Port, we still have to mix it with the 'heavies' from time to time.