2.5hr Island Hop Birdlife Cruise

Visit Mud Island and South Channel Fort

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2.5hr Island Hop RIB Boat Birdlife Cruise

The 2.5-hour Island Hop RIB Boat Birdlife Cruise takes you to the little known islands of Port Phillip Bay. The habitat of the Mud Islands, and the historic South Channel Fort annulus are essential for the survival of birdlife and marine creatures.

Explore the environmentally significant Mud Islands and observe a multitude of thriving birdlife on this RIB boat 2.5-hour adventure cruise for up to 12 guests. Also visit the man-made island of South Channel Fort and gain exclusive access to the late 1800’s underground fort installation.

Departing from Sorrento, a swift ride on the RIB Boat will take you meandering between the sand banks towards the island that sits low on the horizon. Getting ever closer to the landing point the vegetation including salt-marsh, shrub-land and seagrasses becomes more obvious.

Mud Island

Arriving at Mud Island, it’s time to leap ashore and enjoy a 45-minute walk around the lookout and along the untouched beaches. Your first sighting of gannets, terns, cormorants and pelicans will inspire you to seek out more species before returning to the boat for the trip to South Channel Fort.

An internationally significant habitat for many birds, the Mud Islands represent a great spot for birdwatching and up to 70 species have been recorded. Listed as a RAMSAR site, which is an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands, visiting the island is a unique experience that connects you with a spectacular insight into one of the Bay’s big secrets.

South Channel Fort
Taking a 30-minute guided walk around the fort, you’ll not only enjoy the views and the unique birdlife including White-faced Storm Petrels (and potentially Penguins), you’ll also gain access to the below ground features such as the Barracks, Kitchen and Ammunition stores which are closed to the public.

Built in response to several ‘war scares’ between Britain and Russia and the threat of invasion, the unique shoal fort was modelled on the 1860 and 1876 Spithead forts used in the National defences of the naval bases and dockyards of Britain.

Military and history enthusiasts will enjoy the tour into the underground keep with it’s labyrinth of passages, magazines and descent into the former lives of the officers that lived on the island.

A historically, architecturally and now environmentally significant part of Victoria’s history, we’re delighted to share these little known gems of our region. By doing so, we hope to aid protection and conservation of our significant birdlife, marine life and heritage.

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Diverse Birdlife, Beaches to Yourself, Travel into Defence History

Unique Encounters with the Wildlife

Keep a keen eye trained on the sky and the wetlands as gannets, terns and pelicans grace the remote backdrop of the Mud Islands. In the subterranean halls of the South Channel Fort, take yourself back in time into Australia’s 1800-1900’s Defence history and wonder how one hundred Officers lived on the tiny fort.


2.5hr Mud Island and South Channel Fort Cruise

The Mud Islands and South Channel Fort bird watching and birdlife cruise departs from Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. It’s an easy drive from Melbourne or take the ferry from Queenscliff.


Cruise Details

Drive yourself to Sorrento and join our 2.5hr Mud Island and South Channel Fort birdlife Cruise.

Getting There

By Car

From Melbourne you’ll need to drive around 90 minutes south to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula (allow 2 hours in summer, sometimes longer). Once you’re in Sorrento, you should park near the ferry terminal. Make your way to the Sorrento Pier (at the end of the Esplanade).

By Ferry

From Queenscliff, catch the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry towards Sorrento and once arrived, make your way to the Sorrento Pier (at the end of the Esplanade). The ferry crossing takes around 45 minutes and once you’re in Sorrento, it will take just 5 minutes to walk out the pier to meet us.

On Foot

Walk to the main Sorrento ferry pier, make your way to the end of the pier and look for our vessel.

Sorrento Pier address: Esplanade, Sorrento VIC 3943

Things to Bring

Make sure you dress warmly for the cruise, warm jackets, hats, beanies and good footwear are recommended. To get from the boat to the beach you may need to wade in water up to knee-depth, so be prepared to get your feet wet. A small back-pack is advised for the walk on the island. And don’t forget your favourite camera!


Dependent on tide times, please review the latest booking schedule for cruise availability

2.5 Hours


Adults $99
Children $79
*Children (5-14) must be accompanied by an adult

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Things to know:

  • Access to Mud Island is highly dependent on tide and sea levels
  • Guests must be physically fit and have sufficient mobility as it may be necessary to wade to shore, and/or step from the boat directly onto the sandy shore at Mud Island 
  • At South Channel Fort, it may be necessary to scale vertical ladders and negotiate uneven ground and steep steps, this may not be suitable for everyone
  • Passengers with back, neck, shoulder or heart conditions, those who are pregnant or who have injuries/conditions that may cause a risk to their health are advised to not do these tours, or do so at their own risk
  • Please dress appropriately
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before tour departure time
  • Tour times may be altered or cancelled due to sea conditions and passenger numbers