Port Phillip Bay swim trail could become an Australian first
A unique idea to create a swimming bay trail at Port Phillip, complete with wayfinding and motivational quotes on markers, could become an Australian first if approved.
In what is being billed as a “good activation initiative”, the City of Port Phillip will consider the proposal, which would create a swimming route off St Kilda by using existing navigational yellow markers across the bay.
“Hundreds of people are swimming daily in groups along our foreshore and this initiative is aimed at attracting people into the water and to our local area,” Cr Marcus Pearl said, who pitched the proposal in a notice of motion at the council’s meeting on April 4.
Cr Pearl said the novel idea, which was “potentially a first for Australia and maybe a first for the world”, would involve swimmers following yellow markers (that would be named, and affixed with motivational quotes) which would also help track how far they’ve swum.
“It’s a thought bubble idea. What we have seen is a significant increase in swimming across the municipality in the post-COVID environment including myself,” he said.
“A number of people are meeting very regularly as a way of exercise but also as a community connection to swim in our bay.”
The proposal, which would see council officers conduct a preliminary investigation including any safety implications before providing a report back to the council, was unanimously endorsed by councillors at their meeting.
According to a council report, “the idea is to explore the feasibility of utilising these boating zone markers to create a swimming trail with small signs on the navigation makers giving each a name, having a quote for motivation then a distance meter to the next beacon. It is understood some of these beacons are already named”.
The council’s investigation would consider whether a partnership and approvals would be required from Parks Victoria, Maritime Safety Victoria and Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, who are the governing authorities for the bay and coastline.
“I freely admit that is a novel idea, but I hope you will feel comfortable and confident to be able to support it,” Cr Pearl told councillors at the meeting.
He said while the plan would be a “challenging one”, “what we’re asking officers here is to allocate a small amount of our precious resources to come up with a report”.
If the plan did come to fruition, Cr Pearl said it would bring a “number of benefits” not just to the community but “from an economic point of view by attracting more people to the City of Port Phillip to come and swim and spend their money on our wonderful foreshore”.
The cost of the proposed project is unknown at this stage. •