South Channel Fort RIB Boat Tour

Visit historic 1880s defence fort and significant seabirds

South Channel Fort, Defence History and Birdlife RIB Boat Tour

The 90-minutes South Channel Fort RIB Boat Tour gives you an active tour of the revolutionary military and navel defence scheme for Port Phillip Bay. Travel by RIB boat from Sorrento to this man-made island and key component of Victoria’s complex naval and military defence system constructed in the 1880s. 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.

Designed to dominate large areas of sheltered water by gunfire, including use of the famous disappearing guns, the South Channel Fort also employed a submarine minefield and integrated with Fort Nepean, Fort Queenscliff and several naval vessels to protect and close the main channel into Port Phillip.

Operational from 10th July 1888 to 1908, it became redundant as the technology and range of artillery outmoded the fort’s capabilities. Its foundations originated with a total circumference of around 110m, hard to imagine that up to 100 men were stationed at the fort during peak operations. Another sign of this style of fort can be found at Popes Eye, a second annulus commenced in 1888 that was never completed.

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Private Tours Up to 12x Children/Adults From $450

1-6x Guests $450
7-12 Guests $850
*Children (8-14) must be accompanied by an adult

All year, once per month


1.5 hours

Ages 8 and up

Defence history, seabirds

Afternoon, tide dependent

Boat Cruise & Walking Tour

Wear warm outdoors appropriate clothing and footwear

Online bookings 24/7

*minimum six guests apply to confirm the tour

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By Boat

To get to the South Channel Fort, we depart Sorrento and travel by boat approximately 6km North-East to arrive at the front of the fort (15-minutes travel time at quickest). Sitting approximately 14kms from the Port Phillip Heads and Point Nepean, the strategic positioning will become immediately clear. Upon arrival, we’ll disembark and take a walking tour of the fort.

At the South Channel Fort
Taking a 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.

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

Our vessel to take you there is Apollo, a responsive and durable rigid inflatable boat purpose built for performance and stability in all conditions. Take yourself back in time and as you walk around the fort, take time to wonder, could you live there all alone as a caretaker? One man did just that during the recent years.