Pillar 6 - Safety beach bay trail

Offshore channels deep for trading
follow ancient Yarra’s ways;
giant hulks look overladen
thundering in or out.
Silent yachts engaged in sailing
gybe and tack about.

This ‘Jingle’ was written by Tom McCullough in 2015 to contrast the Bay’s variety of shipping and recreational boating. Port Phillip is very busy in commercial maritime traffic – over three thousand trading hulks including coastal traders, overseas container ships and passenger liners that travel to and from Melbourne each year. These giant vessels have to keep strictly within designated shipping channels because of their deep draft. The channels follow the original cuttings made by old rivers such as the Yarra River when the Bay was above sea-level many thousands of years ago. There once was a flat plain stretching from the hills of the Bellarine Peninsula to Arthur’s Seat on the Mornington Peninsula.  Some research on the bottom of Port Phillip Bay suggests that it could have had dry land vegetation growing on it less than 800 years ago, when aboriginal tribes could walk across this plain. They even have tales of these times in their songs of dreamtime memory.

Today the modern bulk container ships dotting the horizons of our Bay contrast with the graceful sailing craft that silently zig-zag  (tacking and gybing) around the shallow bays which usually house numerous yachting clubs. The attractive shapes of sailing craft and their rigs are necessarily streamlined and wind-efficient, whereas the giant bulk carriers and passenger liners have powerful diesel engines that can push rectangular blocks of steel against any weather or tide for 24 hours every day.  

Safety Beach Sailing Club and nearby Martha Cove Marina are like dozens of other havens for the sport of sailing dotted all around the coasts of Port Phillip Bay.  Hundreds of small sailing dinghies to larger keelboat yachts populate the Bay’s coastal waters every weekend, just cruising or competing in races and regattas. Yacht racing courses are set well away from the shipping channels, as there is no room in these channels for fast, large merchant ships to avoid collisions with small recreational boats of any type. Moreover, it is hard to even see small boats in the water far below the steering ‘bridge’ of a giant container ship. 

NOTE: Each Bay Trail 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, all leading northward to Melbourne.

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 Beach) opposite Bruce Road intersection, Martha Cove Marina’s channel entrance and S.B. Sailing Club building. 


G. Patterson, Coastal Guide to nature and history Port Phillip Bay, pp. 153-161, Coastal Guide Books, Victoria, 2013.
Websites: The Port of Melbourne Corporation, The Victorian Yachting Council and Safety Beach Sailing Club Inc.

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