John Murrey in the Lady Nelson discovered Port Phillip on 5 January, 1802. Marray named the bay Part King after Governor King, but the Governor renamed it Port Phillip after the first Governor of NSW.
Port Phillip covers about 1950 square kilometres and has 16 named bays, the best known being Swan Bay, Corio Bay and Hobsons Bay. It is extremely shallower for its size. Much of its waters are shallower that 8 metres and the greatest depth only 24 metres (except for the entrance which plunges to over 90 metres). The Port Philip Bay Heads are known to be one of the most dangerous pieces of water to cross in the world, due to the rise and fall of the tide. As the tide goes out all the water inside the bay has to fit through the tiny except creating an water fall type of effect.
Westernport Bay covers 270 square kilometres, is relatively shallow and contains extensive areas of saltmarsh/mangrove and seagrass communities. Churchill Island Marine National Park, French Island Marine National Park and Yaringa Marine National Park are included within the Bay area.
Westernport Bay is also important for its faunal populations. Phillip Island and French Island have significant wildlife populations. The entire bay area north and east of Phillip Island (see map PDF) is a Ramsar site.
The Port of Hastings and Phillip Island, the popular tourist and visitor destination, as well as historical Chuchill Island, are located within the Westernport Bay area.
The backdrop of rugged, rocky basalt headlands on the ocean side, witness the surf crashing in from Bass Strait ranked one of the world's most dangerous stretches of water.
The ocean beaches from Cape Schanck to Portsea are a mecca for surfing and fishing with Gunnamatta being favorite for surfing and the whole coast line for rock fishing.
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