Take a Dip - Swimming

Whilst much of the coast west of Cape Otway is not recommended for swimming, there are a few bays, plus many lakes, rivers and estuaries to cool off in on a hot summers day.
General hazard ratings have been included for beach locations and refer to the ratings below.

Least hazardous: 1-3
Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10

Hazard rating refers to physical beach and surf conditions ONLY and does not include potentially dangerous marine life. The ratings are as a guide only. Surf conditions are variable and therefore
this information should not be relied upon as a substitute for observation of local conditions and an understanding of your abilities in the surf.

Moving from east to west, below are some of the popular swimming locations.


Port Campbell Bay

General Beach Hazard Rating: 4/10

Port Campbell Bay presents a gently sloping family friendly profile sheltered from the bulk of Southern Ocean swell. Waters inside its iconic pier are generally suitable for swimming and wading and are patrolled over the popular summer months. Families and couples make the most of the tiered lawn area surrounding the bay, picnicking under the shade of the Norfolk pines. The temptation of an ice cream or a coffee is easily fulfilled with a short stroll across the road and into Lord Street.

For more patrol or weather information, visit the Beach Safe website

Gellibrand River

The Gellibrand River offers the best swimming opportunities from Princetown, with the surrounding beaches often too hazardous for swimming. At its mouth, the river has a sandy bottom, with dark water as a result of tannin from trees and leaves upstream.

Loch Ard Gorge 

General Beach Hazard Rating: 4 /10

Located 8km west of Port Campbell, Loch Ard Gorge is an unusual section of coast within the region, in that it has a relatively calm interior. It has a low energy beach and moderate slopes that can be climbed. The Great Ocean Road backs the gorge, together with a car park, a small cemetery and steps down to the beach. The beach is 80 m long and is located 300 m deep inside the narrow gorge. Even during high seas, waves are low at the beach, while surf may break across the entrance. However, do not venture out into the gorge as a rip current runs out the entrance.

For weather and safety information, visit the Beach Safe website.

Peterborough Beaches 

General Beach Hazard Rating: 4 – 6 /10

Beaches to the immediate west of Peterborough township are characterised by sheltered coves, grottos and offshore stacks. The constant twisting and turning of the shoreline means you can find relative shelter in most conditions. Try Wild Dog Cove (4), Bay of Martyrs (4), Worm Bay (4) and Crofts Bay (4). Make use of the walking trail linking beaches between the golf course and the Bay of Martyrs car park. East of Peterborough are few more exposed, but still moderately safe swimming beaches including Peterborough Beach (5), Newfield Bay (6), James Irvine (6) and Water Tower (6).

For more patrol or weather information, visit the Beach Safe website.

Curdies River & Inlet

The Curdies River completes its final journey in a large inlet, sitting behind the town of Peterborough, before hitting the coast at the Peterborough foreshore. The dark water of the river is the result of tannin from trees and leaves upstream and makes for poor visibility.

Childers Cove & Murnanes Bay

General Beach Hazard Rating: 5 – 6 /10

Located 19km west of Peterborough (turn off the Great Ocean Road at Nirranda South), Childers Cove (6) and Murnanes Bay (5) offer wonderful seascapes and an impression of relative isolation even in peak times. Visitors allowing extra time will be duly rewarded for taking the time to follow signs off the Ocean Road at Nirranda South and at Nullawarre if approaching from Warrnambool and the west.  Both beaches are embayed off the coast, with bluffs on both sides. Swimming is moderately safe as long as you don’t venture out into the bays.

For weather and safety information, visit the Beach Safe website.

Lake Bullen Merri

Lake Bullen Merri, encircled by volcanic sand, offers opportunity for a dip when the sea is too rough. Visitors are asked to observe warning signs when blue green algae may be present.