An underwater arts experience
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SOUTHERN PORT PHILLIP
An opportunity to showcase the southern shores
Southern Port Phillip Bay is an area of outstanding natural beauty and has the potential to include a new world standard snorkelling and diving experience that will become a marine icon that showcases unique southern shore geography, and marine plan and animal life. Occasional sculpture additions will provide another reason to return and explore.
Elsewhere in the world a handful of underwater sculpture installations provide snorkel and dive experiences whilst helping to environmental resilience and the attract tourist divers away from fragile natural reefs.
The Sunken Gallery at The Dell, Clifton Springs provides the perfect environment for those exploring the skills of snorkelling and scuba diving. These activities have become a global tourism experience in their own right and are an important tourism experience. Southern Port Phillip and The Rip are already internationally famous as a distinctive dive location.
Victoria is recognised as a State that embraces the visual arts. Combining the strength of visual arts and natural marine environment through the concept of an underwater sculpture installation has the potential to deliver a major attraction of international significance while attracting marine life to the area and creating a marine stewardship ethic in the community.
A context for creativity
The Clifton Springs shoreline has cliffs, backed by a high plateau. There are narrow widths of sandy and rocky beach at the base. Further west towards Point Henry, the topography lowers significantly.
The Dell is a natural amphitheatre with a local look out, ramp, stair and management vehicle access to the beach level. Shallow draft vessels can also approach the Dell when tide and weather is favourable.
The Sunken Gallery will be located off shore from The Dell and placed in water that is generally less than a metre to a little more than two metres deep. This will allow people of most ages and abilities to access sculptures arranged between the shallow and deeper water.
There will be other non-sculptural elements incorporated in the Sunken Gallery. These are likely to include ashore line board walk, a small ‘haul-out’ platform to assist group management near the shallower sculptures and some wave attenuation structures that will protect the boardwalk and local shoreline.
You can learn more about the geography of the Bellarine Peninsula at
The Sunken gallery is likely to utilise combinations of standard plinth or screw-pile and base plate mounting systems to securely anchor sculptures to the sandy seabed.
An accessible family friendly experience
Once established the Sunken Gallery will attract new marine life. The local marine environment encourages a wide variety of sea plants and creatures to colonise the sculptures thus further enhancing the experience.
A sheltered jewel in the coastline
The Dell is sheltered from the south east, southerly and westerly winds. Wave energy is dissipated by extensive sandbars that generally reduce storm waves to less than a metre.
Occasionally weather and seasons will encourage and also strip back some marine growth. The site will provide an ever changing experience that will encourage return visits and exploration.
It is likely that the site will be very popular of the over the late spring, summer and early autumn months.
Visits will be possible in the cooler months but a modern wetsuit and less time in the water will be important.
There is a wealth of current and historic weather information at http://www.baywx.com.au
A diverse history
There are indigenous and cultural heritage sites along this section of coast. The Registered Aboriginal Party for the area is the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, trading as Wadawurrung (Wathaurung) their application was received on: 10 October 2007 and registered on 21 May 2009.
There is more information at https://wadawurrung.org.au
The area is also falls within a historical place of significance, registered in the Victorian Heritage Register. The Dell is an archaeological site where a 19th century Mineral Springs and Spa Complex operated from around 1875-1920, the only 19th century 'seaside' mineral springs resort in Victoria. The site is also listed on the Victoria Heritage Inventory.
You can view a statement of significance at