Best places to cool off this summer — that aren’t the beach!

If you’re looking to avoid the beach crowds this summer, but still want to jump in a body of cool water, check out these great spots.

This summer is different. Many places in Victoria have been impacted by recent flood and storm events. Before you head off, research your destination. For more information, visit our Flood and Storm Affected Parks page.

Lower Glenelg National Park is on the South Australian border and feels like a long way from anywhere. Canoe down the Glenelg River and pull in to riverside campsites where you can cook over a campfire, have a swim and sleep under the stars with a chorus of wildlife. 

Two canoes float down the Glenelg River on a camping trip.

French Island National Park, bang in the middle of Western Port Bay, is a secluded paradise accessible only by boat. You’ll find mangrove saltmarsh areas, open woodlands and a thriving population of koalas. Take your bike or walking shoes for half day walks leaving from Tankerton Foreshore Reserve.

Fairhaven beach at French Island National Park

If you’re after a white water rafting adventure Snowy River National Park in Gippsland is a great place to start. Paddle through rugged gorges, fast-moving rapids and calm lagoons. There’s lots of free camp sites if you’re planning a longer trip. For a cool dip, head to McKillops Bridge where you’ll find direct vehicle access to the Snowy River. 


Mackillops Bridge across the Snowy River

Lake Eildon National Park is water sport heaven with spectacular scenery. Hire a house boat or book a campsite for a week or a weekend. Enjoy swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, sailing and fishing all with rolling hills and mountains as your backdrop. There are moderately challenging hikes to choose from, all with stunning views.

A young couple paddle kayaks on a sunny afternoon across Lake Eildon.

Lake Dartmouth in the Alpine National Park is popular for fishing, camping and four-wheel driving. Brown and Rainbow Trout are plentiful, while Victoria’s largest population of Macquarie Perch are found here. If you’re staying overnight experienced hikers and campers can enjoy some of Victoria’s most authentic and scenic dispersed camping. You’ll need to be fully self-sufficient with food, water and camping equipment. Firewood supplies are limited especially in the alpine and sub alpine areas, so the use of camping stoves is preferred.

Deep in the Great Otway National Park you’ll find Lake Elizabeth on the eastern branch of the Barwon River. The lake was formed after a landslide formed a dam wall in the early 1950s. It’s an eerily beautiful spot with dead tree trunks rising up from the cool waters. Lake Elizabeth is possibly the best location to see platypuses in Victoria. Even if you don’t spot a platypus the scenery is beautiful and worth the 20-minute walk from the campground which is a peaceful place to spend the night sheltered by tall Eucalyptus trees.

Visit Lake Catani in Mount Buffalo National Park during the day for a picnic and a swim or set up camp at the Snow Gum woodlands campground for a longer stay. This picturesque little spot is ideal for families with campsites suitable for small caravans and tents as well as walk in sites for those wanting a quieter setting. After a swim or paddle there’s gas barbeques to cook your lunch. The park features eucalypt forest, alpine heathlands and snow-grass plains. There’s so much to see and do including short walks for all levels, native wildlife to spot, plenty of places to stop for a picnic and striking views to take in.

Three friends kayak across the waters of Mount Buffalo's Lake Catani.

Visit our bays, lakes and rivers page for more great spots to cool off this summer. 

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