The Sunken Gallery is a unique underwater sculpture experience which to encourages 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. The installation will feature a sculpture or sculptures which will attract marine life to the area, colonising in and around the structures. It provides a safe and family-friendly environment where people can learn to snorkel and scuba dive.
Why this type of attraction?
Drawing on the success of similar underwater installations in key tourism destinations overseas, there was an opportunity to develop a local world-class accessible attraction that fuses arts, sport, environment and cultural heritage, complimenting the existing suite of marine-based experiences in the area.
Who is responsible for delivering the project?
The City of Greater Geelong supported by Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine and Victorian public land, heritage and local port managers.
Why was The Dell chosen as the location?
The Dell offered the strongest case for the underwater sculpture installation. Factors such as wave impacts, the sea bottom profile, accessibility, diversity of sea life, visibility, existing amenities, proximity to local operators and businesses, resilience to human disturbance and local geography, as well as proximity to the metropolitan area were all considered.
What other sites were considered?
All of Port Phillips and Western port were considered as potential sites but The Dell offered the strongest case in terms the best-sheltered conditions, accessibility and a safe, stable coastal environment
What does the site offer visitors?
The site is easily accessible, with stairs on either side of the amphitheatre and a disabled 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. Council would also consider permits to drive equipment down to ‘The Dell’ for larger groups. There is a lookout that provides a panoramic view of the access, beach area and snorkelling site.
What type of consultation has been undertaken so far?
The project is in its development and early delivery stage. Consultation has been undertaken with relevant public land, port and heritage managers. Community representatives and local tourism operators were also involved to determine the enthusiasm for this project and to identify considerations for designing and planning the installation. Further community consultation will occur shortly, as part of the detailed planning for the project. Information channels such as a Sunken Gallery website, dedicated social media locations, local forums, surveys, and information packs will provide options for ongoing community engagement.
What is the total cost of the project?
The Sunken Gallery is being funded by a series of council initiatives that provide seed money to prepare the site and place initial sculptures. Additions will be made using the support of grants and sponsorship by Sunken Gallery Project partners who see the value in development in this area. These partnerships will grow a unique venue where people can enjoy the marine environment and its beautiful sea life. Its ongoing maintenance will also be undertaken through funding and managed by City of Greater Geelong.
What benefits will the project bring to the area?
A range of benefits have been identified across the areas of the community, the local economy, arts, indigenous and heritage values, educational opportunities, marine and land environment and primarily for tourism. Overall, this unique experience brings local people and visitors to the area to the Bellarine Peninsula to explore the marine environment amongst sculptures designed to reflect the values of the place. The installation also supports the local marine life to flourish and grow while also enabling it to be enjoyed for leisure, education, arts and science.
What is council doing to protect the area?
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 and protected. As part of a broader planning coastal planning approach CoGG has already undertaken significant revegetation and coastal stabilisation works of the area. A ramp from the elevated car parking area to the lower grassed area has also been added to increase accessibility. The sculptures and supporting infrastructure will be designed and placed in a way that complements and enhances coastal management.
How will Aboriginal cultural values be preserved at the site?
The delivery team is consulting with local indigenous representatives to ensure appropriate development and continue to ensure the proper portrayal of local aboriginal culture in the past while recognizing the present community.
How will heritage values be protected?
There is ongoing dialogue with the indigenous community. Aboriginal Victoria broadly works on cultural heritage management and protection AV supports Registered Aboriginal Parties. Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation trading as Wadawurrung and the City of Greater Geelong has a strong relationship and there is support for the project. Consultation will be ongoing as the Sunken Gallery takes form. The Sunken Gallery is also located in a Heritage Overlay and included in the Victorian Heritage Register pursuant to the Heritage Act 2017. All work and subsequent management of the site is undertaken in consultation with Heritage Victoria.
Will the beach be closed during installation?
Its expected that much of the installation will be undertaken from the water and vessels however more detail will be provided once sculptors and sculptures are chosen.
The beach maybe closed for short intervals during the initial stages while access is improved and interpretive materials are placed at the site.
How will the City of Greater Geelong choose the sculptures for the installation?
An Expression of Interest will be released asking experienced artists to put forward their suggestions for the installation. These will then be considered alongside the heritage, environmental, planning and engineering requirements for the site. This will enable a decision to be made regarding the final brief to be sent to shortlisted artists. The City of Greater Geelong utilises agreed process to incorporate public comment in the selection of art for public open spaces.
How long does it take to get there from Geelong and Melbourne?
The Sunken Gallery is approximately 25 minutes from Geelong and approximately 1.5 hours from the Melbourne CBD.
How much will it cost to snorkel or swim at The Sunken Gallery?
It will be a free attraction, open to everyone.
What amenities will be at the site?
Toilets are located on the upper level. There are currently no changing facilities. A fresh water rinse off shower is planned for the site. Visitors can either bring their own food and drink (and dispose of their rubbish appropriately) or they can make use of the surrounding businesses located at Clifton Springs. The site features excellent beach and grassed areas to prepare and picnic on as well as on, rotundas equipped with BBQ’s and well-established trees providing shelter. Restaurant meals will be able to be purchased at the Clifton Springs Golf Club. Food and beverage permits for areas adjacent and near the site are administered by the City of Greater Geelong.