The Christmas holidays are as exciting as any, and masses of anglers and boaties are eager to get their boats in the water. While it is a hectic time of year at boat ramps across Victoria, with a bit of patience and practice, you will be motoring out of the harbour before you know it. We have some great launching facilities here in Victoria and I thought I’d have a closer look at a few around Port Phillip Bay. Anyone new to boating would benefit from starting off at these ramps, as they are manageable and well be set up for busier periods.
Patterson River, or Patto, as it is affectionately known, is probably the most popular and busiest boat launching facility in the state. In my opinion, the reason for this is that is host’s four separate ramps with over eight actual ramp lanes, and keeps loads of parking spaces for cars with trailers.
Situated about 50km southeast of Melbourne, and giving access to Port Phillip Bay, the Patterson River facility is found at the end of Launching Way, Carrum. Launching fees apply, and there is a seasonal ticket option, which you can purchase from the shop as well. The small tackle store, situated just before you enter the ramp access, has a good selection of bait, ice, and a bit of tackle to get you by. I suggest making sure you have everything you need before you go, but the shop is a good saviour if you forget something. Remember, once you have launched your boat and are motoring in the river, there is a 5 knot speed limit until you get out into the bay. The mouth of the river can get a bit bumpy at times depending on the tide. From the mouth of Patto, you are within a stones throw from some of the best snapper fishing in the state.
Sorrento is about 100km south of Melbourne, and right down the bottom end of Port Phillip Bay is where you will find the Sorrento boat ramp. Located in St Aubins Way, it is a magnificent spot to drop your boat in. The ramp itself consists of three lanes with jetties on both sides which makes launching and retrieving nice and comfortable. Like most, Sorrento boat ramp is fee to launch/park, but the beauty of it is that it’s part of the Park Mobile service – I find this a good way to pay your launching and parking fees. Simply download the Park Mobile app, and you can pay using your account – no need for fumbly coins, or waiting at the pay station. This is brilliant, and to be honest, I don’t know why every ramp doesn’t have this option. Once launched at Sorrento, you are literally already sitting on top of some of the best squid and king george whiting fishing in the state. For the offshore and kingfish anglers, you are within a short steam to Port Phillip Heads and beyond.
St Helens, North Geelong has another fantastic boat launching facility. St Helens boat ramp at the end of Swinburne Steet is only about 70km from Melbourne, and has a great set up – three separate lanes on two ramps, and a number of jetty options means life is simple at St Helens. The extended rock wall means you will be launching in sheltered conditions the majority of the time. St Helens is also the home of the Australian Volunteer Coastguard, and this is where you will need to pay for launching (though only on the weekends). There are good toilets, fish cleaning and picnic facilities available, and once you have launched, you are not far from the Corio Bay snapper action.
Queenscliff is just over 30km southeast of Geelong and is where you will find the magnificent Queenscliff Harbour. The harbour itself is worth visiting, as it was rebuilt and renovated a few years back. The harbour features coffee shops, ice cream and restaurants, and is a great spectacle. You can even climb the stairs up in the lookout tower to get an amazing view of the southern end of Port Phillip Bay. However, if you come back in a bit, over the train line, you will find a quiet little two-lane boat ramp. It is a plain and simple ramp with two mooring jetties on each side of the ramps. Daily fees are $10, and can be purchased via the ticket machine. The reason I love this ramp, is due to how close it is to some fantastic fishing. Once outside the harbour into Port Phillip Bay, you are only minutes away form Port Phillip Heads and offshore, amazing squid, whiting and flathead grounds, and gummy sharks on the edges of channels – and for the divers out there, there are plenty of great spots to jump in the water.
While the ramps around Victoria get extremely busy throughout the summer period, they are great facilities and should be respected. Don’t leave rubbish laying around, don’t leave fish scraps or frames where they shouldn’t be, keep to speed limits in regulated areas (generally 5km in rivers and harbours), and most of all, take your time! Just relax and enjoy the sunshine. If it takes an extra 5 or 10 minutes to launch, it’s not the end of the world. If there is someone taking a while to launch or retrieve their boat, go and ask if they need a hand rather than get frustrated at them. We live in a great state for fishing and boating. Enjoy it!Reads: 823