Stay cool, stay safe

Monday 20 December, 2021

Whether you're a white-water adventure-seeker, casual canoe day-tripper or you want a family-friendly swimming hole, Victoria’s parks are the perfect place to make a splash this summer.

Take a kayak journey along winding rivers or sail out onto placid lakes. Explore shipwrecks and unique marine life along Victoria's beautiful coast. Cool off in the waters near glistening waterfalls and relax and rejuvenate.

With so many activities to choose from, make sure you’re ready for nature by planning ahead, whether it’s for a day trip or a longer stay. Water comes with different risks, so always keep water safety in mind

Our rangers and Licensed Tour Operators have kindly shared their tips to help you stay safe while staying cool this summer.

1. Stay cool by… canoeing and kayaking

A couple kayaking along the Yarra River

Encounter nature at your own pace as you travel the waters of Victoria’s parks by canoe or kayak.

The serene escape of Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park offers a vast network of waterways to explore, including Ninety Mile Beach.

The Glenelg River Canoe Trail stretches 75km from Dartmoor to Nelson, with campsites along its scenic route that make it perfect for a multi-day canoeing adventure.

Watch for native wildlife as you canoe and camp by the secluded Lake Eildon, beside the Victorian Alps.

The adventurous can try white water rafting in the rapids of Victoria's highest mountain ranges at Alpine National Park.

Snowy River National Park offers rafting for all experience levels, following the gorges and flats of this famous river.

Travel the entire 240km of the Yarra River or simply experience nature in the heart of Melbourne by taking a leisurely kayak through parklands and along riverside walks.

Shannon O’Brien from Murray River Adventures by Sydney Harbour Kayaks is keen for you to make sure you’re prepared if you’re heading out kayaking. “In the wetlands, swamps and inland waterways of Victoria, it is important to Be Paddle Smart. Be aware of your surroundings as it's easy to get lost, never paddle alone. Take a tracking device, extra food and water, a dry bag with warm clothing and first aid kit. Make sure to tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return."

More tips for staying safe while canoeing and kayaking:

  • Prepare carefully. Remember to check river levels and weather conditions with the Bureau of Meterology ahead of time.
  • Always let someone know the details of your itinerary. Remember, phone reception may not be available in all areas.
  • Book or check in with a Licensed Tour Operator if you do not have an experienced canoer, kayaker or rafter in your group.
  • Make sure you understand life jacket requirements on canoes and kayaks.

2. Stay cool by… going for a dip

A young couple walk out into the small waves at a beach at Wilsons Promontory National Park.

 There's no better way to cool off and rejuvenate than by getting into the water for a splash. Remember, our waterways can be especially busy over the warmer months, so always have a backup plan if your swimming spot of choice is busy.

Head up to Mount Buffalo National Park and enjoy the clear waters near Ladies Bath Falls or take a dip in the man-made Lake Catani.

Expedition Pass Reservoir and Vaughan Springs at Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park offer a historic setting and placid waters for a day of swimming and picnicking.

Enjoy the family friendly swimming spot and tree-lined shallows of Mackenzies Flat, Lerderderg State Park.

A former mining dam, St George's Lake is now a retreat for swimming, barbecues, picnics and watching wildlife in the serenity of Creswick Regional Park.

Ricketts Point is a fantastic place close to Melbourne for a refreshing dip with the family. The crystal clear waters are less than 5 metres deep in most areas, and the beach is patrolled by Beaumaris Life Saving Club over summer, making it a safe place for everyone to enjoy the water.

If swimming in the waves is more your style, look no further than Sorrento Ocean Beach. This popular beach is patrolled on summer weekends and holidays. There’s also rockpools to explore that are large enough to swim in!

“If you are not a strong swimmer, the surf is not the place to be," warns Parks Victoria ranger Tim, from South Gippsland. "Can you identify a rip? Would you know what to do if you are caught in a rip?”

“Nothing beats a refreshing swim on a hot summer day," agrees Lucy, a ranger at Wilsons Promontory National Park, “but even the calmest looking water can hide dangerous currents and undertows. Swim where it’s safe, by staying between the flags.”

More tips for staying safe while swimming:

  • Only swim in areas where swimming is permitted.
  • Never go into the water by yourself.
  • Beware of hidden underwater hazards, like strong currents and debris.
  • Swim within the limits of your experience and comfort.
  • Beware of swimming near or under waterfalls. This can be dangerous due to strong currents, submerged hidden rock ledges and other hazards.
  • Be aware that some sites close for visitor safety, such as days with elevated fire danger, or concerns about blue-green algae. Before you depart, check the Parks Victoria website for changed conditions at your destination.
  • Jumping off piers and jetties is dangerous and not permitted.
  • Check the water quality in the area before you swim. EPA Victoria provides updates and alerts on water quality in Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River.

3. Stay cool by… boating and sailing

A mother and daughter boating in Mallacoota Inlet, Croajingolong National Park

Set sail for the lakes and rivers of Victoria’s spectacular parks!

Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park is a great getaway for nature-lovers and boating enthusiasts.

Sail in a picturesque bushland setting at Lake Eildon, or head to Patterson River at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay - a favourite spot for sailing, fishing or taking a boat tour with a licensed operator.

You don't need to leave the city to get out on the water. Take a rowboat down the Yarra River, or head over to Albert Park where you can have a sailing lesson, hire a boat for the day, or even join the sailing club and compete in a race.

Jodie Ashworth from H2O Tours and Adventures loves taking visitors on boat cruises to explore the Gippsland Lakes. Jodie's advice is, “be sun smart and always carry enough water to stay hydrated while out on the water”.

More tips for staying safe while boating and sailing:

4. Stay cool by… snorkelling or diving

Two scuba divers at The Arches Marine Sanctuary

See Victoria's coast differently as you explore an underwater world.

Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary is an accessible snorkelling and diving spot teeming with marine life. Explore shipwrecks at Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary, snorkel through seagrasses and kelp forest at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, or see unique sea life at the piers and jetties along Port Phillip Bay, such as Rye Pier and Flinders Jetty.

Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park is one of the world's great diving destinations, where you can spot fur seals and other marine life. The Arches Marine Sanctuary offers spectacular underwater rock formations for the adventurous diver, while various diving spots within the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park are home to many colourful invertebrates and fish. For a bit of everything, make the trip to Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary in East Gippsland and see shipwrecks, kelp forests, reefs and marine life.

“While there are a lot of great places to see, always plan your marine park exploration with safety in mind,” says Monique, a marine ranger for Port Phillip Bay. “Many of Victoria's marine protected areas are in exposed locations, where local weather and sea conditions need to be carefully considered before getting in the water. Always dive or snorkel with a buddy and stay within your skill limits. Respect the flora and fauna in the marine protected area and take your rubbish home."

More tips for staying safe while snorkelling or diving:

  • Consider local weather and sea conditions carefully before getting in the water.
  • Always dive or snorkel with a buddy and stay within your skill limits.
  • If you're new to snorkelling and diving, or want to improve your skills, we recommend contacting a Licensed Tour Operator. Their expert instructors know the best local spots to see amazing marine wildlife, and they have all the right gear to get you in and out of the water safely.

Make the most of summer... safely

Although a great time to have a dip, the warmer weather can also bring increased bushfire risk – especially if there is also wind forecasted. Some sites close on days of increased fire danger, so always make sure you check weather conditions and the Parks Victoria website for park closures before heading out.

Always have a backup plan. If the carpark is full, the park is too. Don’t cause overcrowding, find a quieter place to visit.

One of the best, and safest, ways to experience Victoria’s waterways is with a Licensed Tour Operator. There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready to help you discover our magnificent parks and waterways. Find one today, and start exploring.

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