Pillar 11 - Safety beach bay trail

Mt Martha cliffs and darker coves
echo as the morning moves
and pinkish granite walls enclose
a pebble beach.
Rock pools call boys in wet clothes
beyond reach.

This ‘Jingle’ was written by Tom McCullough in 2015 regarding the northern end of Safety Beach where the level sandy shore ends at steep granodiorite cliffs.  Formed around 370 million years ago, these Devonian Period rocks have been worn away and changes by uplifts and erosion. At the current sea level a narrow rock platform has been left, with deep water off its edge. Some deep fissures also are cut into the cliffs by the weather enlarging small faults and cracks in the rock. Small coves are formed in places, with loose, sea-worn pebbles and coarse sand at the bottom. Further around this platform is a wider cove that opens into Pebble Beach. Unlike most of Port Phillip’s extensive sandy shores, the Pebble Beach area is like some rocky coastlines of the British Isles and Europe that fishermen enjoy.  

An informal clifftop pathway connects Pebble Beach with Safety Beach; there are steps that plunge steeply downhill to Pebble Beach, almost opposite Ellerina Road.  Yachts and motor-cruisers often shelter from north-easterly winds under these cliffs which form the edge of a minor fault-line.  It connects at right-angles with the huge Selwyn Fault that runs roughly north-south from Seaford/ Frankston to Rosebud,  then it cuts inland across the Peninsula to Cape Schanck.  The Selwyn Fault forms the eastern edge of Port Phillip Bay; in geological terms it borders the great sunklands that flooded when the floor of the Bay began to sink over 23 million years ago in the Palaeogene Period.

Children love the adventurous challenges of Mt Martha’s cliffs and their rocky platforms. Sea pools can be fished in and small creatures found as the tide drops and rises every six hours. The sun hits various parts of the pinkish granitic cliffs at different times each day, making the scenery change as the waves beat on rocks and echo in ways that contrast with the more open sands of Safety Beach.

Mornington Peninsula Shire funded these poetry pillars that were designed* by Safety Beach Foreshore Landscape Committee Inc., in 2016 (*copyright  T. McCullough).

There are 11 of these pillars with different ‘Jingles’ on each one. The pillars are spaced at intervals of about 200 metres apart, alongside the Bay Trail at Safety Beach foreshore. Marine Drive is parallel to the Bay Trail which runs from the south at Nepean Highway intersection, to the northern end at the Mt Martha cliffs (or Tassell’s Cove Beach) opposite Bruce Road intersection, Martha Cove Marina’s channel entrance and S.B. Sailing Club. Each Pillar has two red ‘port’ squares or two green ‘starboard’ triangles on it, similar to Channel Markers leading into an anchorage. They are meant to reflect our channel markers in Port Phillip Bay leading northward to Melbourne.


G. Patterson, Coastal Guide to nature and history Port Phillip Bay, 153-161, Coastal Guide Books, Victoria, 2013.

For further information or questions, please write to: The Secretary, Safety Beach Foreshore Landscape Committee, 65 Victoria Street, Safety Beach, Victoria, 3934.