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AB2 Altona Meadows - active recurving Sand Spits

This information has been developed from the publications:

  • Sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance in the Western Region of Melbourne (1986) by Neville Rosengren
  • Sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance on the Coast of Port Phillip Bay (1988) by Neville Rosengren.
  • Sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance in the Shire of Otway (1984) by Neville Rosengren.
Geological heritage sites, including sites of geomorphological interest and volcanic heritage sites, are under regular revision by the Geological Society of Australia, especially in the assessment of significance and values. Reference should be made to the most recent reports. See the Earth Science Heritage section of the Geological Society of Australia website (external link) for details of geological heritage reports, and a bibliography.

LocationAltona Bay - 071043 to 070036. City of Altona. Coast of Port Phillip Bay from the MMBW drain south to the north of Skeleton Creek.

AB2 - Recurving active sand ridges,
north of Skeleton Creek, Altona.


Walk south from the MMBW drain south off Queen Street.


Crown land.

Site Description

The site includes several sets of elongated, recurving sand spits that are extending northwards from the mouth of Skeleton Creek, and a zone of parallel near shore sand bars. The distal end of the outer spit trends seaward of the general coastal alignment and the recurves are offset landward at angels averaging 30o from this trend. In many instances the recurves have become attached to an earlier formed spit to enclose a lagoon or small tidal inlet. The main northerly movement of the spits is due to wave action generated by southerly winds, while the offsets or recurves are built by easterlies. The spits are evidence of predominant south-north movement of sand along the western side of Port Phillip Bay.

Offshore is a series of narrow sand bars spaced at 40 to 50 m intervals and occupying a zone averaging 300 m wide. Landward the terrain has been severely disturbed by excavation for slat pans although remnants of earlier formed spits can be distinguished.


State. The spits are one of the major coastal sand bodies of Port Phillip Bay and are an outstanding example of a recurving sand spit system. They comprise a major prograding sector of Port Phillip Bay and one of the few on the Victorian coast. They are highly mobile and provide opportunity for short-term monitoring of coastal sand movement and for studies in the development of, and relationship between, spits and near shore bars. They are an effective means of protecting this coastal sector from erosion.


Class 1. The ridges should be subject to a minimum of disturbance to allow retention of their form and vegetation. No sand or shell extraction should be permitted from onshore or offshore and no coastal engineering works undertaken.


Jutson, J.T. (1931). Erosion and Sedimentation in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.
Proc. R. Soc. Vict. 43:164-174.
Bowler, J.M. (1966). Port Phillip Survey 1957-1963: Geology and Geomorphology. Memoirs Nat. Mus. Vic. 27:19-67
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