As the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force, Point Cook was once a mostly rural community based around this purpose. Today, it is one of the major growth regions in Melbourne’s west, and while this part of the city may still feel far away in the minds of some Melburnians, many would be surprised to learn that this suburb is little more than a 30-minute drive from the CBD and accessible by train.
While the region still hosts some RAAF activity and the popular RAAF museum, the Point Cook and Werribee areas are now recognised as places of huge importance for a different kind of air traffic.
Far from the wasteland perception that once maligned much of Melbourne’s west, this part of our city is teeming with bird life. Point Cook Coastal Park, and its neighbours the Western Treatment Plant, Altona Coastal Park and the Cheetham Wetlands, are some of the best places in the world to see migratory wading birds, which have travelled here from the Arctic.
Originally created to treat the region’s wastewater, the Treatment Plant is a thriving wetland with a diversity of birdlife equal to that of the NT’s Top End. The Cheetham Wetlands were developed as Cheetham Salt in the 1920s: a series of ponds into which sea water from Port Phillip Bay would flow and dry out, allowing salt to then be harvested from the lagoons. In the 1990s this area was recognised for its environmental importance and part of it was purchased by the Victorian Government and turned into a sanctuary and conservation area, which now provides much-needed habitat for migratory birds.
On Saturday March 23 Point Cook Coastal Park will host the second Day by the Bay festival by Connected to Port Phillip. The festival is a chance to show off the hidden wonders of our beautiful Bay and help Melburnians discover and connect with this amazing environment and ecosystem.
A lineup of live music, as featured in Beat Magazine and on RRR radio, will provide all-day entertainment while community groups connected with the Bay share their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for this marine environment and its inhabitants.
A digital underwater photography exhibition will be on display, showcasing some of the amazing marine life that inhabits the Bay. Featured, among other fantastic local photographers, will be PT Hirschfield (Pink Tank Scuba). Hear PT’s incredible story of bonding with Giant Australian Cuttlefish, which she generously shared in the first episode of the Look at Me podcast series.
A free Learn How to Nature activity run by Nature Connections will be happening on the day, providing insight and education on connecting with nature, including a guided beach exploration and meditation and reflection session. You can register for one of these sessions via the Day by the Bay website. Spaces are limited.
Also featured on the day will be an ice carving demonstration by environmental artist Mark Trinham, who will be transforming a simple block of ice into a stunning sea display. With a unique range of craft and merchandise stalls and food trucks also on offer, there will be no shortage of things to do at Day by the Bay Point Cook.
Point Cook Coastal Park is a popular spot for a family picnic on any fair-weathered day of the year, placed right by the beach front and well serviced with a picnic and BBQ area, playground, historic bluestone homestead and wheelchair access from the car park to the picnic shelter and edge of the beach. An added bonus activity is watching the vintage planes that often fly overhead, originating from the Air Force base.
Birdwatching opportunities in the park are plentiful and there are also many coastal trails to wander and investigate the local wildlife hiding in the Spectacle Lakes or the saltmarsh.
Traditionally the home of the people of the Kulin Nation, this area has been providing for its local residents for thousands of years and contains various sites of Indigenous cultural significance. The Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary (yes, oddly enough, this Cooke is spelt differently!) provides excellent snorkeling as an easy and fun way to experience the wonders our very own Bay has to offer – easily rivalling our northern neighbours. Why let Queensland take all the credit for amazing marine life, or Kakadu for its birds? Come and see for yourself what’s hiding in our own backyard.
Day by the Bay Point Cook takes place on Saturday 23 March 2019, starting at 12pm, and features the following lineup:
The following community, non-profit, craft and merchandise stalls will also be in attendance:
Dolphin Research Institute
Victorian National Park Association
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority
Port Phillip EcoCentre
Werribee River Association
Koala Clancy Foundation
Marine Mammal Foundation
Jacq of all trades
The Herb Store
And don’t forget the food trucks!
Cerminara ice cream
NZ Street Food
Miss Love a Donut
There will also be some fantastic activities on the day for both children and adults to enjoy:
Face painting (from 12pm to 4pm)
Photography exhibition curated by Pink Tank Scuba and featuring 20 Victorian underwater photographers
The Connies (street performers) handing out wildlife swap cards
DIY beauty products
Sea creature-themed ice carving demonstration by artist Mark Trinham
Learn ‘How to Nature’ with Nature Connections, including learning how to observe nature, connecting with nature through meditation and poetry, beach exploration, and more. Attendance is free but bookings are essential for this activity – click here to book into the 11am session, and here for the 1pm session. Please note that this activity is for adults only with 10 people per session – register now so you don’t miss out!
For more information on Day by the Bay Point Cook, please see here.
View the highlights reel from Day by the Bay Mornington below for a sneak peak of what’s in store at Point Cook.
Banner image courtesy of Rexness / Flickr