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The Black Sludge in the Sandringham Harbour to be removed

Friday, 12th July 2019

Dear SYC Members and Stakeholders,

We are delighted to advise all Members that the black sludge in the Sandringham Harbour is to be removed. The days of our sailors wading through the black sludge are numbered – it is to be removed in the next few months.

The infamous black sludge has been tormenting (and torturing) our Off the Beach sailors for decades. Whilst it is an organic material, mostly decomposing seagrass and seaweeds, it stinks and is highly unpleasant. It is littered throughout the Harbour and in recent years it has deepened in many areas and become increasingly unsafe, especially in front of SYC and the Hampton Sailing Club. These planned removal works will see the sludge removed and the plan is to restore the launching areas to their once pristine, and safe condition.

 “On behalf of SYC can I say a very big thank you to the State Government for their commitment to removing the black sludge. It will make going into the water safe again – and far more pleasant. It’s a great outcome for the entire community” said SYC Commodore Ashley Trebilcock.

We also caught up with our very happy Off the beach Captain Dave Suda who commented from overseas “On behalf of everyone connected to sailing at SYC, we are very grateful to those who have supported the removal of the sludge that has made our beach home for decades. The sludge better known as “black death” has been a major concern for locals and members, so to hear and know it will be removed is a blessing. The beach is used every day by members of the community learning to sail, through school sailing, kids holiday programs and adult learn to sail courses, not to mention visitors to the numerous local, national and international events that are held here every year. Everyone will be thrilled that the beach is going to be clean and inviting”.

Check out the official press release issued by The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP office on 11 July 2019….


Locals and visiting beach goers will be able to comfortably enjoy a sludge-free Sandringham Harbour this summer with a beach clean-up project about to get underway.

Consisting of decaying organic matter such as seaweed and seagrasses, the naturally-occurring sludge has affected the ambience of the waterfront as it has accumulated and may pose a hazard to sailors and other visitors to the beachfront. The material is not contaminated or toxic.

In response to community concerns, the Victorian Government will begin a new project to remove the sludge by dredging and disposing it in the marine environment to the west of the breakwater with minimal environmental impact.

Following the dredging operation, a beachfront grooming project will also get underway to regenerate the vitality of the popular destination.

Whilst seaweed is naturally deposited across many beachfronts, the tidal movements around Sandringham Harbour have allowed this material to collect in significant quantities, omitting an unpleasant odour as it breaks down and causing some visitors, dogs and boats to get stuck.

This operation represents a significant investment into the local community for beach and harbour users and will mean Sandringham Harbour and beachfront is free from sludge by late 2019 in time for the 2020 World Laser Sailing Championships, an important qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

When word comes through on the detail around the removal works and the timing, I will relay this to all Members. No doubt there will be some disruption, but we will cope!

We would like to thank some close friends of SYC who have been instrumental in making this commitment happen – former Member for Higginbotham Noel Pullen, prominent Bayside local and ex-Mayor Felicity Frederico, SYC Member and Marine Scientist Scott Chidgey, and both Graeme Davis and David Ritman from Parks Victoria.

I would also like to credit the Victorian and International Laser Class Association. Through SYC Member James Mitchell they have bestowed on us the privilege of hosting the 3 Laser World Championships at SYC this summer and being home to those events no doubt assisted the Harbour get this outcome – if you’d like to get involved and help us make these events memorable, then please come along to our information night at 7pm, 13 August at SYC.

So with the permission, funding and commitment in place to remove the sludge, our focus in will turn to assisting Parks Victoria and the contractor do the works.


Richard Hewett
Chief Executive









David Ritman Parks Victoria, Richard Hewett SYC and Nina Taylor MP, State Member for Southern Metropolitan Region


Read the Herald Sun article