In 2002 a system of Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries was established after over 10 years of community campaigning.

In this podcast series we capture the social history that led to the creation of the world-first system of marine national parks and sanctuaries in Victoria.

Our Marine National Parks podcast episodes 1–6 brings together a number of perspectives to outline how particular natural spaces – in our case the underwater world – entered the public imagination of Victorians and sparked a political discussion that led to their wider protection.

Find out how this newly found and enlivened public concern for the marine environment helped to shape a broader conversation about the protection of biodiversity values, and deeper human and ecological connections.

Listen below, or on your favourite podcast app:


Episode 1: Putting Marine National Parks on the map, walking around Port Phillip Bay

The Bay is our point of departure into the creation of Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries in Victoria. Our first episode looks broadly at a wider environmental context including the bay’s social and geological time — because Port Phillip Bay is very rich in both.
Graham Patterson, a local historian and avid bushwalker, will talk and walk us around Port Philip Bay. Explaining its geological as well its more recent European Settlement history — while he introduces us to some of the current environmental threats facing the bay. We also will hear from Sandie Webb speaking about her special connection to the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, an ecological gem just out of Williamstown in Melbourne.


  • Graham Patterson, local historian and author of “Coastal guide to nature and history: Port Phillip Bay”
  • Sandy Webb, Jawbone Marine Sanctuary Care Group

Photo credit: Kade Mills

Episode 2: From underwater photography to a canopy of care

This episode brings together a number of perspectives to outline how particular natural spaces – in our case the underwater world – entered the public imagination of Victorians and sparked a political discussion that led to their wider protection.
We chat with Mark Rodrigues from Parks Victoria, who looks after our Marine Parks and Sanctuaries in Victoria, before embarking on a short boat ride across Port Philip Bay to go swimming with dolphins. Judith Muir, from Polperro Dolphin Swims, will join us and share with us her experience with the Bay as educator and eco-tourism operator
  • Mark Rodrigue, Parks Victoria, State-wide Leader – Marine and Coasts
  • Judith Muir, Eco-tourism operator, Polperro Dolphin Swims
Photo credit: Phil Watson 2012

Episode 3: Groundworks – organising the community

We celebrate the achievements that the Victorian community has initiated over the past decades including the creation of our system of Marine National Parks and sanctuaries in 2002.

We pay our tribute to the political legacy of previous community activism, so we’ll look closely at the community-led campaign that lasted more than 10 years leading to the creation of the world-first system of Marine National Parks and sanctuaries. We hear from two of the community organisers, who got the ball rolling.

  • Tim Allen, former coordinator of the Coastal Community Network
  • Chris Smyth, former VNPA coastal campaigner

Episode 4: The passionate bunch

National Parks are one of the few mechanisms that we have that protect “whole ecosystems,” which is different to looking at individual threatened species. From a natural resource management perspective, our Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries are sites of complex interactions and multiple interests.

Many researchers and land managers have dedicated their working lives to the protection of our beautiful National Parks. Their work on environmental awareness connects to the work of community advocates, who are often driven to dedication through passion.

  • Joan Lindros, Geelong Environmental Council and former president of VNPA
  • Shannon Hurley, Coastal Campaigner VNPA
  • Mark Rodrigue, Parks Victoria, State-wide Leader – Marine and Coasts

Episode 5: Shaping of coastal policy and the legacy of the 1969 Little Desert campaign in Victoria

In Victoria 90% of the coast is public land, and community organisations like the Victorian National Parks Association are committed to keeping it like this.
We explore the role political processes play in protecting nature, as well as the ongoing threats to managing marine National Parks and Sanctuaries.
We hear (among others) from Geoff Wescott, who has been deeply involved with shaping coastal and marine environmental policies in Victoria. In 2015 he chaired the expert panel that advise our current 2018 Marine and Coastal Act.
  • Geoff Wescott, board member of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council and Honorary Research Fellow at Deakin University
  • Shannon Hurley, Coastal Campaigner VNPA
  • Mark Rodrigue, Parks Victoria, State-wide Leader – Marine and Coasts
Photo Caption: Celebrating the establishment of MPA at Ricketts Point. From left to right: Mark Stone (Parks Victoria Chief Executive 1998-2010), Dianne James (chair of Victorian Coastal Council), Sherryl Garbutt (Minister for Environment and Conservation, 1999-2006), Sylvia Earle (well known around the world as a marine biologist and advocate) and Chris Smyth (marine campaign officer VNPA).

Episode 6: Nyamat Meering / Sea Country – Visiting Gunditjmara Country in South-West Victoria

In this our final episode on the marine environment of Victoria, we take a seat inside a workshop that took place in 2019, focused on partnerships between organisations and groups that are caring for country, Sea Country. We’ll explain what is known as ‘Nyamat Meering ‘ – referred to in the phrase ‘sea country’ – as we work towards understanding roles and definitions of rightsholders, stakeholders and the many different modes of engagement for local inhabitants in this watery space.

In order to do that we will be visiting Gunditjmara country and will speak with Damein Bell, CEO of Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners’ Aboriginal Corporation, and group of Gunditj Mirring staff. Gunditj Mirring represents the Native Title interests of the Gunditjmara people

This episode is copyright of Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

It was produced in collaboration with Federation of Victorian Traditonal Owner Corporations (FVTOC), Gunditj Mirring and VNPA.

Looking ahead for marine protection

Establishing the marine national parks network in Victoria in 2002 was a remarkable achievement. But now, almost 20 years on, the network still has significant gaps, with important marine wildlife and habitats still left unprotected.

We have a lot more work to do. More information on the work VNPA is doing for marine national parks and sanctuaries.

Production credits

  • Produced by Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier and Thomas Bristow
  • Project management: Caitlin Griffith
  • Podcast narrators: Bethany Atkinson-Quinton and Maddison Griffiths


This project is supported by the Victorian State Government

We acknowledge that Victoria’s coastline includes the traditional lands and waters of Australian first peoples and we extend our respect to all traditional owner groups in Victoria.

Keep listening

If you enjoyed our Marine National Parks podcast, perhaps you would also like to listen to our other podcast on the Little Desert.