Carl Brewer, 19/6/2000
Point Franklin Reef is a long, narrow sandstone reef extending out beyond Point Franklin, which is the prominent sandstone point five hundred metres east of Portsea Pier. It is overlooked by historic gunnery emplacements inside the Lord Mayor’s children’s camp. It is tidal, and can be dived as a slack water dive, or a drift dive on either an ebb or a flood tide.
The reef has some sandstone gullies in close to the shore, and vegetation varying from some kelp in close to the shore to brown weed and seagrass further out to sea, and on either side of the reef itself.
The dive is notable for many species of fish as it is rarely dived and gets strong tidal flow. A lucky diver can find some scallops amongst many smaller crustaceans, and the occasional octopus and spider crab can be found feeding on the shell fish on the site.
Occasionally pods of dolphins cruise over the area, as do larger pelagic fish. The reef was also a mooring point early in the 1900’s, and some historic bottles can be found, although most of them are modern beer bottles discarded by fishermen.
The dive site extends almost as far as two prominent channel markers, some three hundred metres due north of the cream coloured shed on the top of the cliff. The best diving is in closer to the point, as at around one hundred metres from shore the reef drops off rapidly from five to 15 metres, and the reef becomes sparse, as does the sea life.
This makes the reef a viable snorkel dive as well as SCUBA, as long as the diver is a strong swimmer, as the tide can catch you unaware and leave you with a long walk back to your starting point.
At all times on dives around Point Franklin display a dive flag.
This reef is close to Portsea’s moorings, and many boats travel close to shore inside the channel markers, making boating traffic quite hazardous.
Slack water at Point Franklin is around 30 minutes after slack water at Port Phillip Bay heads. Slack water lasts for approximately 30 minutes, which gives the diver enough time to explore most of the more interesting part of the reef. The best time to do this dive is to leave from Lord Mayor’s beach at the base of the walking track that comes down from the carpark at the end of Franklin Rd, just as the ebb tide is ending. Head out and west, letting what is left of the ebb carry you west. As the tide changes it will carry you back east, as you fin south back to the shoreline. If timed well, you will end up in the shallow and sheltered water close to your entry point, and an easy exit from the small sandy bay awaits.
This dive can be done as a drift dive on either an ebb or a flood tide, with the easiest and safest option being an ebb tide. Enter from the small sandy bay at Lord Mayor’s beach at the base of the carpark at the end of Franklin Rd, and head north, letting the ebb tide carry you over the reef towards Portsea Pier. Fin towards the shore once crossing the reef, and land in front of the Portsea Pub. From here one diver can walk back to the carpark and return to pick up the other diver and your gear.
The opposite drift, leaving from the front of the Portsea Pub and letting the flood carry you east is rewarding, but if you get too far out to sea can leave you with a long walk along the beach back to the Lord Mayor’s camp beach.
Point Franklin is very close to Portsea Pier and the dive shops surrounding it, although there is no public telephone at the Lord Mayor’s beach car park, it is a quick drive back to Portsea to use the telephone. However, a mobile telephone is recommended to contact emergency services should the need arise. There is also a public telephone in the Portsea Hotel, which is a shorter walk than the public phone at Portsea Pier.
Remember to give precise information concerning any incidents, including exactly where you are located and where the incident occurred to any rescue services, and keep a record of where and when it happened, and who you have contacted and what you have done. Remain calm in order to make any problem resolution as successful as possible. Inform any rescue or medical services that this is a diving incident and ensure that the Alfred Hospital Hyperbaric Unit is notified in the case of a missing diver, as recompression may be required when the diver is recovered.
Important contacts are as follows :
For serious diving injuries including any form of DCS, contact DES first :
DES : 1800 088 200
Ambulance Service : 000
Alfred Hospital Hyperbaric Unit : 03 9276 2269
Alfred Hospital switchboard : 03 9276 2000
For general medical attention, including marine stinger injuries, snakebites and general first aid :
Rosebud Hospital : 03 5986 0666
1527 Nepean Hwy
Rosebud West (approx 5km north of Rye)
For search and rescue services :
NOTE: Contact the Victoria Police first on 000, and inform them that a diving incident has occurred. The police will co-ordinate search and rescue through the Coast Guard, Water Police and Southern Peninsula Search and Rescue.
Victoria Police : 131176 or 000
Southern Peninsula Rescue Service : 03 5984 4555
Coast Guard : 03 9611 1711
 DES is the Diver Emergency Service, which is also known as DAN. It is highly recommended that every diver be a DAN member, for further information please call DAN on 03 9886 9166 or see their web page at http://www.danseap.org