Review: Creeks & Harbours of Port Phillip

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First published in 1986 and now in its’ fourth edition (updated in 2010) Creeks and Harbours of Port Phillip is one in a series of three guides written by Richard Hawkins. Other guides in the Victorian series cover the creeks and harbours of Western Port as well as The Gippsland Lakes and Eastern Gippsland.

Known variously as Port Phillip Bay, Port Phillip or just The Bay, the stretch of water that Melburnians use as their playground offers a number of challenges inherent with leisure boating at latitude 38 degrees South. Weather systems rolling in from Bass Strait are an obvious challenge in a waterway that is also home to one of the busiest ports in Australia. So it makes sense that Hawkins sensibly devotes the early chapters to weather, tides and search and rescue.

With approximately 200nm of navigable coastline in The Bay, Hawkins has overcome the somewhat daunting task to draw or describe every one of them.The guide inclusively covers the entire Port Phillip waterway between The Rip in the south to the Johnston St Bridge on the Yarra through to the Canning St Bridge on the Maribyrnong River.

Hawkins is clearly a fan of John Masefield and takes the opportunity to indulge in his passion by including some of Masefield’s Salt Water Ballads throughout the text.The poetry serves to add some welcome light relief after Hawkins clearly translates the seemingly complex navigation such as the light systems at Port Phillip Heads.Pleasingly for boaters who use store their boats on trailers, a list of boat launching ramps.Bird spotters are not forgotten either with a complete chapter contributed by Val Curtis.

Hawkins has produced a smart publication with clearly read maps and enough interesting titbits to make for general reading even when not onboard your boat.Produced in a clever landscape format, the guide is obviously intended to be used onboard: it is clearly up to the challenge.

Verdict: Highly recommended