Waterways and Bays

Mornington Peninsula waterways, including creeks, wetlands and groundwater, together with our beaches and bays, play a vital role in our natural environment and are also important socially, economically and culturally. The Mornington Peninsula has 440 kms of waterways with 18 creek catchments and 190km of coastline, which represents more than 10 % of Victoria’s total coast.  



Our waterways support significant plant and animal species which rely on them for habitat and food, including 301 birds, 11 amphibian and 29 fish species.

Vulnerable and endangered species within the Peninsula including the Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) are often associated with naturally-occurring wetlands. Our largest wetland is the state-significant, ground-water dependent Tootgarook Wetland, covering an estimated 380 ha. Wetlands along the Western Port coastline form part of the internationally significant Western Port Ramsar Site, recognised for its diverse and extensive ecosystems.

Waterways have cultural and spiritual value for the Bunurong/Boonwurrung people. Dreaming stories are associated with Port Phillip Bay (Nairm). Bunurong people once walked the land bridge between Wilsons Promontory and Tasmania. Locally, they hunted and camped across the lands of the Mornington Peninsula. The wetlands, bays and creeks were important sources of food, such as waterfowl, tortoises, fish, rhizomes, bulbs and roots, and they were also significant camping sites (Bunurong Land Council 2020). Riparian and coastal areas across the Mornington Peninsula have many middens and may be significant for spiritual and ceremonial reasons. Aboriginal sites are protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Connecting with your local waterways

Waterways and bays are places where we can gather with friends and family, connect with each other and with the waterway. They’re also great places to walk by yourself or with your pet! The Mornington Peninsula Shire, have created a map of walks near waterways for you to discover.

Download: Discover our Waterways map(PDF, 2MB)

To find out more about walks on the Mornington Peninsula, please call the Mornington Peninsula Visitor Information Centre on: 5950 1579.



There are numerous potential sources of pollution on the Peninsula, including urban and agricultural run-off, industrial waste and stormwater and sewage, which can impact the health of our bays and waterways. The Mornington Peninsula has an influx of tourism over the summer season due to its coastline, popular ocean beaches and its abundance of nature-based recreational activities. The pressures on our waterways from increased population can include increased pollution and litter in stormwater runoff and on our beaches.

When it rains, stormwater runs untreated through our drainage system and into our creeks and ultimately, Port Phillip or Western Port Bay. We can all play a role in keeping our waterways, catchments and oceans clean and healthy. 

Protecting our Waterways and Bays

There is a need to protect our waterways and bays from pollution and litter. Here are 10 ways you can protect our waterways and bays.

Download: Protecting our Waterways and Bays(PDF, 332KB)

1. Dispose of litter responsibly
2. Pick up after your pets
3. Don’t put anything except water down storm drains
4. Avoid using pesticides or chemical fertilizers
5. Choose non-toxic household products whenever possible
6. Use sea-safe sunscreen at the beach
7. Manage garden waste
8. Revegetate creek banks
9. Always taking all fishing line home to prevent entanglement
10. Join a Beach Patrol

Father and daughter at waterway - Melbourne Water image.jpg
Image: Melbourne Water


Each year, tonnes of litter makes its way from waterways to bays and oceans. As well as being unsightly and affecting amenity, litter also has devastating impacts on wildlife.The Litter Action Program is a three-year project that aims to target litter hot spots right across Melbourne by stopping litter at the source. Check out Litter Action for more details.


Waterwatch Victoria is a successful community engagement program connecting local communities with river health and sustainable water issues and management since 1993. Go to the Waterwatch site for more information.