Snorkel amongst the sculptures
The Sunken Gallery is a unique underwater sculpture experience to be established at The Dell, Clifton Springs on the Bellarine Peninsula, approximately ½ hours drive from Geelong. It is scheduled to open to the public in Summer 2019/2020.
The Sunken Gallery will encourage the local community and visitors put on a mask and snorkel in a safe and family-friendly environment and explore the unique colour and diversity of the southern Port Phillip.
It will feature a collection of underwater sculptures, which will become a living and evolving underwater canvas that attracts marine life and changes with the seasons. No visit will ever be the same.
Positioned as a world-class tourism asset, the installation will encourage the community and visitors to grab a snorkel and explore the vibrant and diverse marine flora and fauna of the area, while fostering a marine stewardship ethic.
A hidden jewel - The Dell, Clifton Springs
The Dell is a natural amphitheatre providing an elevated lookout over The Sunken Gallery site with multiple access points and amenities. The waters are calm and safe, featuring diverse sea life and good visibility suitable for all ages and abilities.
Described as a jewel in the coastline it’s the closest beach beyond Corio Bay that visitors can access. Access will be via the recently constructed ramp, which leads down to a large picnic area suitable for families and large groups.
The site features excellent beach and grassed areas to prepare on, rotundas equipped with BBQ’s and well-established trees providing shelter from rain, wind and the sun. Other amenities include parking, grassed areas, established trees and rotunda for shade.
An accessible family friendly experience
The Sunken Gallery will provide a unique and exciting opportunity to experience the local area above and below the water. Visitors will be able to snorkel, scuba, swim, paddle as well as a range of other activities.
The site already boasts a diverse variety of marine life which are attracted to remnant pylons and the seagrass and sandy habitats.
The underwater sculptures will protect the coastline and create new habitats, becoming a magnet for marine life and evolving over time. Fish, seahorses, rays, octopus, urchins, seastars, shellfish and other marine life will be able to be experienced at the site.
A showcase of the southern shores
The Sunken Gallery will deliver numerous positive benefits including increased habitat diversity, shoreline stabilisation and the building of a marine stewardship ethic in the community.
The area already boasts a variety of habitats including intertidal rocky reef, seagrass meadows, sandy plains and old remnant pier pylons which a number of important environmental services including;
nursery grounds for important fisheries
water cycle regulation
sediment filtering and sediment stabilisation
nutrient cycling and;
oxygenation of the water.
These habitats attract a large diversity of marine life including seahorses, fish, rays, octopus, globefish, nudibranchs, calamari, pipefish and various marine algae.
Underwater sculptures will create new habitats, encourage growth, attract new marine life into the area, increase marine biodiversity and will change with the seasons. The sculptures and supporting infrastructure will be designed and placed in a way that compliments and enhances coastal management.
Extensive research and testing have been undertaken to identify factors to protect the local environment and heritage values of the area. Technical experts in their field continue to work with the range of authorities to ensure the area is well managed, protected and valued throughout the project.
As part of a broader coastal planning approach City Of Greater Geelong has already undertaken significant access, revegetation and coastal stabilisation works of the area.
A rich cultural and maritime history
The Wadawurrung People have a unique connection to the Bellarine Peninsula including The Dell. The City of Greater Geelong will work closely with the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation to ensure that the site is appropriately interpreted and respected.
The Dell, Clifton Springs Mineral Spa Complex was established in the early 1870's and arose from the discovery of mineral springs along the foreshore. Up to eight springs were noted along the foreshore.
The site currently consists of one bay steamer jetty or the Long jetty (uprights only), one bathing jetty (uprights only), two railway iron jetties (uprights only), foundations (timber, metal, brick, ceramics) of several buildings relating to the spa complex located along and partly buried with the foreshore sand
A program of shoreline stabilisation works is being undertaken to support the marine and land environment. The site is on the Victorian Heritage Register and. A Heritage Impact Statement will provide an overview of the significance of the site.