Portsea, Victoria

Coordinates: 38°19′14″S 144°43′02″E / 38.32056°S 144.71722°E / -38.32056; 144.71722
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Portsea Pier
Portsea is located in Melbourne
Coordinates38°19′14″S 144°43′02″E / 38.32056°S 144.71722°E / -38.32056; 144.71722
Population787 (2021 census)[1]
 • Density197/km2 (510/sq mi)
Area4 km2 (1.5 sq mi)
Location95 km (59 mi) from Melbourne CBD
LGA(s)Shire of Mornington Peninsula
State electorate(s)Nepean
Federal division(s)Flinders
Suburbs around Portsea:
Point Nepean Port Phillip
Bass Strait Sorrento

Portsea is a seaside town on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) south-west of Melbourne's Central Business District, located within the Shire of Mornington Peninsula local government area. Portsea recorded a population of 787 at the 2021 census.[1]

Portsea is located on the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay. The suburb is located on the bay itself, but the locality boundaries stretch as far west as Point Nepean and incorporate a section of Bass Strait coastline. Portsea is the westernmost town on the Mornington Peninsula, and lies adjacent to Sorrento. It has one of the highest average incomes in Australia.


Portsea Hotel
Portsea Houses
London Bridge Portsea
Portsea Backbeach
Point Nepean

Portsea is named after Portsea Island which is an island incorporated by Portsmouth, England. Portsmouth is where the first settlers to Australia set sail from. Portsea Post Office opened on 10 February 1877 and closed in 1987.[2]

In January 1948 the new St Mary's School for Deaf Children was opened at Delgany, Portsea led by Kathleen Mary Egan. It was an initiative by the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the first to use oral techniques in Victoria.[3]

OCS Portsea, an army establishment, was located just outside the town. The historic reserve became famous when Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappeared while swimming inside the facility at Cheviot Beach on 17 December 1967 and was officially presumed dead two days later, although a formal inquest into his death did not take place until 2005.[4]

Present day[edit]

Portsea was considered by many to be the hub of Melbourne's recreational scuba diving activities. At one time there were as many as four dive shops in the main street of Portsea. Dive charter boats still travel from Portsea Pier to sites both inside Port Phillip and outside Port Phillip Heads, also known as "The Rip".

The Portsea Pier is the home to the spectacular weedy sea dragon, as well as many other fish species, including numerous pufferfish. Boating traffic is frequent, and divers should be careful to avoid main boating routes. After dredging was done to deepen the entrance to the bay for shipping there was increased surge at Portsea Pier and within a year Portsea Beach was gone. Sandbags have been placed on the once picturesque beach to prevent further sand erosion.

Portsea Back Beach is an attraction in Portsea, due to its great surfing conditions and long stretch of sand. Portsea Surf Life Saving Club patrols the popular surf beach, as patrols are always needed during the summer period given the large waves and strong tides that are often present.

Corsair Rock, just at the entrance to Port Philip, is a well-known surf spot to locals and professional surfers. However, it is not advised to surf there unless you are an experienced surfer and, for safety, are accompanied by somebody in a boat nearby. It is considered a very dangerous location. The rip can run out as fast as 8-10 knots.

Golfers play at the revered Portsea Golf Club on Relph Avenue.[5] The annual Portsea Polo event is held at Jarman Oval, near the former quarantine station on Point Nepean.

According to the 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census, Portsea had 510 residents.[6] Prominent residents include trucking magnate Lindsay Fox, Kate Baillieu and Rupert Murdoch's grandson businessman David Calvert Jones, other well known residents are Eddie McGuire and Ron Walker.

Traditional Ownership[edit]

The formally recognised traditional owners for the area in which Portsea is located are the Bunurong People.[7] The Bunurong People are represented by the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.[8]

Popular culture[edit]

The Australian Crawl song "Hoochie Gucci Fiorucci Mama" (from the 1980 album The Boys Light Up) was written about Portsea.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Portsea (Suburbs and Localities)". 2021 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 5 July 2022. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Phoenix Auctions History, Post Office List, retrieved 14 March 2021
  3. ^ "St Mary's College History". St Mary's College for the deaf. Archived from the original on 14 October 2023. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  4. ^ Harold Holt inquest starts, 40 years on Archived 28 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  5. ^ Golf Select, Portsea, archived from the original on 23 July 2008, retrieved 11 May 2009
  6. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Portsea (State)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 13 April 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  7. ^ "Map of formally recognised traditional owners". Aboriginal Victoria. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Bunurong Land Council". Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Waiting for Reyne". The Age. 25 May 2003. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2009.

External links[edit]