Eastern Side of Western Port – Fieldtrip
What’s Happened to the Oysters?

Neville Rosengren

Click here for information about the associated Lecture (Thursday 26 March)


George Bass became the first European to enter Western Port in 1798 after a long, hard voyage down the east coast from Sydney in a whaleboat. ‘Western Port’ became the name of choice for George due to “…its relative situation to every other known harbour on the coast.” It is probably best George didn’t keep sailing west, for only a few more hours would have taken him to ‘Western-Western Port’… Since Bass set foot on its shores, the natural features of Western Port and how to best utilise them has been (and continues to be) the focus of much interest, activity and intrigue. There was toing and froing in the early 1800’s between the British and the French as both showed interest in the resources of the Bay. Lieutenant John Murray brought the Lady Nelson into Western Port in December 1801 and remarked that “…today gave the Shore a strict Search at low Water and plainly perceived that a company of 6 or 8 men would not run any risk or hazard of being starved here for several months from the vast quantity of Shell Fish to be found at low Water”.

During the presentation and field trip we will examine aspects of the Cainozoic geology of the eastern side of the Western Port Sunkland and show the interaction of geology, tectonics, sea-level changes, plant ecology and human impacts shape the present day configuration of the bay, shoreline and hinterland. Many landforms are changing rapidly, and responses to these changes require some robust decision-making by a variety of authorities. If we want oysters for lunch, we will need to bring our own.

About Neville Rosengren

Neville is a geomorphologist with 45 years of experience in research, teaching and consultancy in Australia and overseas. Over this time, he has been engaged as a consultant by State and Commonwealth Government agencies, major private sector environmental consulting firms and was senior environmental consultant to the United Nations University programme on coastal resources management in Indonesia.

Neville’s publications in geomorphology cover aspects of coastal, volcanic and mountain environments. He has spent a lot of time around, above and in Western Port since participating in the benchmark ”Shapiro” study in 1972-3. In1984 he published a study of sites of geological and geomorphic significance around Western Port for the (then) Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands. He has long had an active interest in the conservation of geological sites and has published major inventories of sites on a regional and thematic scale.

Since relinquishing his position as Senior Lecturer in Earth Science (so he could live in New Zealand), he has remained active in consultancy and community coastal interpretation programmes in Victoria. Neville is now an Honorary Associate of La Trobe University and a member of the Science Panel of the Victorian Coastal Council.

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