Williamstown Wave Wash and Surge Study Project

Project status

April 2023 – The study is now complete and key findings have been presented to the project’s stakeholder reference group. The reports are available below.

Key findings documents:

Summary Report on the Williamstown Maritime Precinct Wave Wash and Surge Study

Stage 2 - Data Analysis Report for Williamstown Wave Wash Surge Study

Stage 3 - Mitigation Options Report for Williamstown Wave Wash Surge Study



The Williamstown area of Hobsons Bay is home to many recreational, commercial and community boating activities and has well established infrastructure to support these activities. Located near the entrance of one of the busiest commercial ports in Australia, Port of Melbourne, there is significant maritime traffic entering and leaving the Yarra River and the adjacent Webb Dock Area. 
In recent years there have been developing concerns raised about the effects of increased and often unexpected wave, wake, wash and surge on vessels. In response, Parks Victoria undertook a detailed Wave Study to identify and categories ‘wave, wash and surge’ events intermittently experienced and reported by stakeholders within the Williamstown Maritime Precinct. 

Above – Map showing the location of the Williamstown maritime precinct and nearby navigation channels. Credit: BMT.

The Project 

The aim of the study was to better understand the occurrence, cause and impact of wave, wash and surge activity in the Williamstown Maritime Precinct and to develop high level options for future strategies to manage ‘wave, wash and surge’.  The wave study collected data over a four-month period with data collected through a variety of methods to ensure the outcome provided a comprehensive picture of the issue. Radar water sensors, boat motion sensors, pressure sensors, and cameras were employed, and the project was carried out in three stages: 
  • Stage 1 – Data Collection
  • Stage 2 – Data Analysis
  • Stage 3 – Modelling potential Mitigation Options

Illustration showing six degrees of boat motion    Diagram representation of boat surge motions


Above - illustrative representation of a boat's range of motion (left) and boat motion during a 'surge' motion (right). Credit: BMT.

Project timeline 

  • Project commencement and contractor appointed – December 2019
  • Stage 1 – Data collection. Late 2020-early 2021 (Stage 1 experienced delays due to COVID-19 lockdowns which impacted data collection activities)
  • Stage 2 – Data analysis. Early 2021 - Mid 2021
  • Stage 3 – Modelling potential mitigations. Early 2022 – Late 2022
  • Project completion – Feb 2023

Project partner and funding 

This study was undertaken by Parks Victoria supported through funding from the Victorian Government via the Department of Transport and Planning.

Stay updated 

For regular project updates, please subscribe for Williamstown Local Port Area Plan news.

For general enquiries email engage@parks.vic.gov.au or call us on 13 1963.

Related information 

Parks Victoria is the local port manager for Port Phillip, Western Port and Port Campbell.  The three local ports combined receive approximately 30 million visits a year, and include 263,000 hectares of waterway, marine protected areas, channels, piers and jetties, moorings and aids to navigation.  


What is the Williamstown Wave, Wash and Surge Study? 

The purpose of the Study was to identify the cause of the ‘wave, wash and  surge’ issues that have been anecdotally reported and recorded in the Williamstown maritime area by the local boating community and to prepare potential options for future mitigation.
Funding to undertake the Study was provided through the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) to Parks Victoria as the local port manager.

How were stakeholders involved and consulted?

As part of the project, a Stakeholder reference group (SRG) was established. The SRG met at key project milestones to inform the project delivery. The group included representatives from organisations including the Boating Industry Association of Victoria, Department of Transport and Planning, Hobsons Bay Yacht Club, Port of Melbourne, Transport Safety Victoria, Ports Victoria, and the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria.

What is the outcome of the Study?

The study has identified and confirmed the occurrence of wave and surge events in Williamstown’s maritime precinct and has proposed several possible mitigation measures for future consideration. The Study will be used to inform the Government on the issues raised by local stakeholders and its findings considered in other planning processes including the Williamstown Precinct Plan Framework (prepared by DTP) and the Williamstown Local Port Area Plan (2023).

Will the mitigation strategies identified in the Study be implemented?
The study has modelled several possible options to mitigate surge events and manage their associated issues. The study will be used to better understand the issues occurring in the Williamstown maritime area and for future consideration. The findings will be also considered as part of the process to develop the Williamstown Local Port Area Plan, specifically exploring the modification or extension of the 5-knot zone.
Parks Victoria has shared the results with Ports Victoria to identify issues that are under the jurisdiction of the commercial port for consideration. Currently there is no funding commitment to implement the recommended mitigation actions, however Parks Victoria will review the feasibility and cost benefit to then seek funding that includes performance monitoring.

How does the Study relate to the Williamstown Local Port Area Plan?

The findings from the Study will be considered as part of the research undertaken during the development of the local port area plan. The local port area plan provides a future-ready vision for the area’s on water assets and is intended to improve the function and sustainability of the Williamstown local port area, while protecting its values as a regional maritime and boating destination.  

What is a local port area plan?

The Sustainable Local Ports Framework introduces the concept of a local port area plan. The aim of a local port area plan is to address current and future uses and development of the local port and is informed by technical investigations and stakeholder consultation.

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