Crib Point

Crib Point is a residential and industrial town on the western side of Western Port Bay, 64 km south-east of Melbourne. It is linked to the industrial development at Hastings, 7 km northwards and the HMAS Cerberus naval depot to its south-west.

The geographic Crib Point is north of the town centre, where the jetty and the British Petroleum fuel depot are sited. The name came from a hut or ‘crib’ built by fisherfolk during the 1850s. The area was only sparsely settled or grazed because of dense coastal vegetation.

In the 1880s the fortification of Port Phillip Bay against naval invasion caused defence authorities to consider the prospect of Western Port Bay as an alternative point of invasion. A deep water channel runs past Crib Point to Hastings. In 1889 a railway line from Frankston, past a military camp at Langwarrin, was built to Crib Point for the rapid deployment of defence forces. No significant burst of development followed, although a school was opened in 1890.

Upon the creation of Commonwealth naval forces it was decided to form ports at Fremantle, Western Australia, and at Western Port Bay, for the Western Division. (The Eastern Division’s ports were to be at Sydney and Brisbane). Land was acquired around Hanns Inlet, including Crib Point, in 1921, and the Flinders Naval Depot was constructed during 1912-20. The Crib Point village also grew during this time, acquiring a hall (1913) and a store (1915). Crib Point was the railway embarkation point for naval personnel, and it was particularly active during World War II. The depot was renamed HMAS Cerberus.

During the early 1960s the industrial development of the Western Port region was promoted. British Petroleum operated a refinery at Crib Point (1966-85) and the State Government built a large wharf off the actual point. Land subdivisions caused an over-supply of residential sites and some were later consolidated, but Crib Point’s population steadily grew during the 1960s-90s. The general direction of growth has been north, and a second railway station, Morradoo, was opened in 1997. (It is thought that Morradoo was the Aboriginal name for the Crib Point area).

Crib Point has a small shopping area near its railway station, a community hall, a recreation reserve, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a Uniting church. The Anglican church (1929) was closed in 1963, and residents can attend Catholic and Protestant chapels at HMAS Cerberus. There are a Catholic primary school (1927) and a State primary school (143 pupils, 2014). The railway continues beyond the Crib Point station to the terminus at Stony Point, which is part of Crib Point. There are ferry services from Stony Point to French Island and Phillip Island.

Crib Point’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Crib Point 1911 218
  1933 517
  1947 534
  1961 838
Crib Point, HMAS Cerberus 1966 1829
  1971 1915
Crib Point, HMAS Cerberus, Crib Point West (now part of Bittern) 1976 2689
  1986 4180
  1991 5624
  1996 6198
Crib Point 2006 2743
  2011 2839

Further Reading

Valda Cole, Western Port pioneers and preachers, Hawthorn Press, 1973

Arthur Woodley and Bruce Bennett, Morradoo about nothing: a history of Crib Point and Bittern: neighbours in destiny, Crib Point, 2007

HMAS Cerberus entry