Pillar 8 - Safety beach bay trail

Our basin east is Kangerong
slung between two granites strong,
with crescent beaches all along
Dromana Bay.
Sweeter creeks and billabongs
once fed the briny.

This ‘Jingle’ was written by Tom McCullough during 2015 when thinking about this wide valley or basin between Mt Martha and Arthur’s Seat. These granitic hills were originally raised from the earth’s molten core in the Devonian era, around 350 million years ago. Over millions of years later, Kangerong Basin gradually became lined with soils, clays and worn stony materials carried down by rainfall from the higher land. The Hillview Quarry above Dromana still makes roadwork gravel from the pure granite block of Arthur’s Seat. A smaller quarry on the Mt Martha side of the Basin also was used for extracting road-making gravels from its granodiorite mass (only a slightly different chemical mix to granite). 

Below the hills enclosing the Kangerong basin, the curving beaches of Dromana Bay display the final stage of eroded granitic sands that were gradually washed down from these two blocks.  Tiny quartz fragments glitter among these beach sands, which once were part of the granites on the surrounding hills. The floor of the Kangerong Basin is rich in good soils that surrounded many freshwater creeks and billabongs that once drained slowly into the sea. These wetlands with billabongs or lagoons followed the estuary of Tassells Creek  (also called Brokil Creek) for thousands of years. They were rich hunting grounds for the Bunurong people who left tools and flint chippings around the edges of these once important food-gathering areas. Early explorers like Lieutenant Matthew Flinders described these lagoons that were seen behind Safety Beach, but white settlers and farmers later drained these extensive wetlands to grow crops and make grazing land for their cattle. Housing estates also diminished the Kangerong Basin’s natural water reservoirs, and eventually all evidence of these wetlands were totally erased in 2005 when the construction of Martha Cove marina and housing project commenced. 

The mix of salty water (brine) and polluted drainage flowing into our largely static Bay waters is changing. With major land settlements happening around coastal Victoria for less than 200 years, planning authorities have to continually improve waste-water cleanliness and rapid drainage flows around its bayside suburbs.

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. Each Pillar has two red ‘port’ squares or 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.

Picture (rhs): Tassells Creek Estuary before 2005

G. Patterson, Coastal Guide to nature and history Port Phillip Bay, pp. 153-161, Coastal Guide Books, Victoria, 2013.
T.H. Sault, The Mornington Peninsula Through the Eye of a Naturalist, pp. 2 -8, Trust For Nature, Victoria, 2003.

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