We’ve been writing a summer series about swimming in Sydney for a few years now, and we thought it was time we uncovered some favourite Melbourne spots, too.

After another year of unknowns, one thing we know for sure is that the water has felt more refreshing and revitalising than ever in the wake of it all. Though we might be in for a wet one, with La Niña set to provide increased rainfall, we’re ready to explore the city again.

We chat to a musician, an actress, a stylist and some chefs about their favourite swimming spots, where to go for a meal nearby, and what they’ll be reading over the holidays. Whether it’s a beach, a suburban pool, a river or even a wave park near the airport, these are the places thousands of Melburnians will spend their summer days.

BEN SHEWRY, CHEF
Shewry needs little introduction here. The Kiwi-born chef grew up in Taranaki and spent years living down on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. Last summer he opened Attica Summer Camp, a countryside pop-up in the Yarra Valley, while his much-lauded Ripponlea fine diner Attica was closed due to the pandemic. Nowadays, between shifts in the kitchen, he’s a keen swimmer and surfs regularly with his kids.

Where do you swim in summer?
My absolute all-time favourite place to go anywhere in Victoria – it’s to swim and surf, which is pretty rare – is Point Roadknight, just outside of Anglesea. It’s a safe swimming spot and it’s very gentle. It’s a beginner surfing wave, but it’s great for longboarders like me. If you’re going to go surf there you need to go at low tide, but it’s one of the longer surf waves in Victoria. It’s a very protected little bay there off the point, which is beautiful for all manner of people – from young families and teenagers to adults. There’s sort of like a trough just in from the sand, which is almost like swimming in a lake. There’s good parking but there’s no food there, so you have to take your own... It’s an awesome place to hang out.

Where do you get a meal nearby after a day at the beach?
Matt Germanchis’s fish’n’chip shop in Anglesea, Fish by Moonlite. He’s one of the best chefs in the country, so I’d highly recommend visiting, getting takeaway and going back to the beach. It’s only a few minutes away.

Where do you swim in the city?
I’ve got a bit of a wacky recommendation. I’ve had a lot of fun at Urbnsurf as an experienced surfer, but also with my children as beginner surfers. It’s not a scenic place to go, but if you just want to go surfing or swimming with a bodyboard, it’s awesome. It’s not weather dependent. You can go there 365 days of the year and there are perfect waves, which is crazy. It’s fun because it caters to all levels – from beginner to expert – and you don’t need to take equipment. Everything can be hired, from wetsuits to surfboards, which is great when you are taking a family of five, like mine. Also, Three Blue Ducks has a cafe out there.

What music are you listening to this summer?
The Attica Summer Camp playlist is the quintessential soundtrack for summer. It’s fun, lively and energetic, and about nine hours of music. We played it at the outpost last year. The only rule is that you have to shuffle it; it’s not designed to be played in order.

A summer book recommendation?
It’s a little gory but I just finished reading Chaos by Tom O’Neill, about the Charles Manson murders. It sort of refutes a lot of the findings in the original Manson murders book, Helter Skelter. The journalist dedicated 20 years of his life to study the murders and got dragged down a rabbit hole. It started as a long-form story for Vanity Fair and turned into a wild ride that destroyed his career. It’s as much about his life as a journalist as it is about the murders.

What are you cooking this summer?
Christmas lunch is the first major thing we’re cooking. The traditional Shewry family Christmas involves lasagne – that’s been Christmas every one of my 44 years – but we’re not making lasagne for the first time this year. We’re going much lighter and will be cooking organic vegetables as crudites, sustainably caught prawns and numerous dips, including a dip made from kimchi. Then we’ll do a whole free-range chicken that has been marinated really slowly and a bunch of different salads. Dessert will be fruits of the season: cherries and berries that we’re going to macerate for 15 minutes in some limoncello by Michael Ryan from Provenance, called Yuzu Cello. We’ll serve this with a half-cream, half-yoghurt whip with a little bit of honey. Mega simple.

RA CHAPMAN, ACTOR AND PLAYWRIGHT
Korean-born Chapman has appeared on Aussie TV shows such as Neighbours and Wentworth, but after years in the spotlight she turned her hand to writing and directing. Her play K-Box was meant to debut at Malthouse Theatre in 2020, and she was onboard to direct Michele Lee’s play Security. But when lockdown hit these projects were shelved, so she’s spent the last two years writing and developing some new works for screen and stage. She also learned to swim in the slow lane at Fitzroy Pool.

What does summer in Victoria mean to you? What does it feel like?
Like a box of chocolates. Let’s be honest, Victorian weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, and our summers can range from hot and dry to disappointingly overcast, windy and tepid. You never know what you’re going to get!

Where do you usually swim?
Fitzroy pool. In the slow lane.

Why is this place special?
This is where I learned to swim. My partner got me beginner swimming lessons for Christmas a couple of years ago, and let’s just say that I’m way less terrified of the water now.

Where do you have a meal post swim?
Pavlov’s Duck, Smith Street, Collingwood. Great coffee and tasty Korean-fusion breakfast options.

What will you be doing this summer?
We are currently fitting out our new van and hope to have the bed and fridge in by Christmas so we can take our time cruising along the coast.

What music will you be listening to?
CHAII, Tkay Maidza, King Princess and late ’90s bangers.

What will you be watching over the holidays?
Lockdown means that I’ve pretty much watched everything! So I might have to re-watch some of my faves, like Dave and I May Destroy You. I also like to explore the K-drama world, notably Extracurricular on Netflix and an old-school one called Autumn in My Heart – you can find episodes on Youtube.

Are there any stage shows on over the summer months that you are keen to see?
Malthouse have a killer outdoor stage with music, cabaret and other live shows. And I can’t wait to see Stay Woke on their main stage, a new comedy by Aran Thangaratnam.

TOM IANSEK, MUSICIAN
He may not be a household name, but you probably know some of his music. Singer, songwriter and producer for Big Scary and #1 Dads, Iansek has also worked with artists such as Maple Glider, Lisa Mitchell, Emma Louise, No Mono, LANKS, Airling, and Ainslie Wills. Under his record label Pieater, Big Scary released their first album in five years in April 2021. And this summer, Iansek will be on a Mornington Peninsula beach sipping iced coffees.

What does summer in Victoria mean to you? What does it feel like?
The hot days followed by the cool change. Shorts and T-shirts. Ceiling fan on high as we enter the beautiful calm of Melbourne in early January.

Where do you usually swim?
These days we like to go to McCrae on the bayside of the Mornington Peninsula.

Why is this place special?
Clear, calm and friendly waters, great for our toddler, plus cute beach boxes line the beach. On a clear day you can see the city on the very far side of the bay and be reminded of the life you are joyously neglecting.

Where do you have a drink, meal, coffee, etc. post swim?
There’s a great Greek place, Alatonero, just behind the beach. And Merchant and Maker to collect an iced latte and treats in the morning.

Any travel or holidays planned?
We will be visiting family in South Australia who we have not seen for most of the year, then setting up camp (not literally) on the Peninsula and McCrae beach for at least a week. Holidays aside, I actually love being in the city after Christmas and into January. The usual frenetic feel is replaced with a wonderful easiness; the city feels like it is in slow motion.

What music will you be listening to?
I’m looking forward to getting to know the new James Blake album and Courtney Barnett’s latest. If it’s not something new, then it’s ’50s crooner classics all the way.

What will you be reading over the holidays?
I have a book of Shakespeare sonnets I have been dabbling in for lyrical inspiration; I look forward to spending more time here. One Hundred Years of Solitude is next on my list.

JO BARRETT, CHEF
Before we spoke to chef Jo Barrett, we had no idea she was an ocean swimmer – she regularly swims 1.2 kilometres on the Bellarine Peninsula with her mum. Barrett is one of the zero-waste chefs (alongside her partner Matt Stone) from Joost Baker’s Future Food System in Fed Square. Since making a name for herself at Oakridge Wines, Barrett has become a pioneer in the sustainable-food industry. And in 2022 she’ll join the team at renowned Byron Bay restaurant Harvest – but not before heading to Flinders Island. In the meantime, you might see her in a wetsuit at Point Lonsdale.

What does summer in Victoria mean to you?
It’s pretty dynamic … [W]e’ve got beautiful hinterland like the Yarra Valley, which is an amazing food destination but also a fly-fishing destination, [and] pristine beaches along the Great Ocean Road – but then you can also head into the country and go for hikes in the bush. There are endless possibilities for Victorian summer, especially after lockdown.

Where will you be this summer?
I’ll be in Point Lonsdale for Christmas, doing heaps of swimming and diving and fishing. I’m part of the Bellarine’s fly-fishing club [so] spending heaps of time down on that coast in particular.

Where are your favourite summer swimming spots?
Point Lonsdale is my regular spot. And then for diving there are endless spots along the Great Ocean Road; Apollo Bay, Anglesea and Lorne are pretty popular. Also, Cottage by the Sea, next to the dog beach towards Queenscliff, where you can dive off the beach. There’s amazing fishing along there as well.

Why is Point Lonny special to you?
It’s sort of untouched, but also my mum lives down there and she’s a big open-water swimmer. That’s how I got into it. I do the Rip View Classic, a 1.2-kilometre ocean swim in January, hosted by Matt Preston. Point Lonsdale has a really approachable beach and it’s a reserve, so the nature and all the fish there are incredible. It changes from winter to summer – the seaweeds change colour and different fish come out.

Where do you go for a coffee locally after a swim?
Starfish at Barwon Heads is a favourite, or Saltbush in Queenscliff.

Do you dive to catch fish or just for a look?
Both. I like catching abalone along the coast, and I do a bit of spear fishing. Crayfish season opens soon, so I’ll try my luck at catching some crays. I just got my licence.

What will you be cooking this summer?
Lots of beach barbeques for sure. I’ll be utilising seaweeds and fish, abalone and crayfish. So, we’ll be cooking up at the beach barbeques outside at Point Lonsdale, under those little shelters, and watching the Spirit of Tasmania come through.

TAMARA WATTS, STYLIST
Watts, a Melbourne stylist and founder of Retro Print Revival, admits that she spends a big part of her life seeking out the best swimming spots wherever she is. She has worked in visual merchandising for Country Road and as a brand stylist for Mister Zimi, and has her own line of lamps, planters and vases made with Australian materials. Watts loves a summer road trip, setting off to find vintage textiles buried in op shops in small country towns.

What does summer in Victoria mean to you? What does it feel like?
Alive. I’ve emerged from the long Melbourne winter hibernation to relish in the dry summer heat, with days so hot you could fry an egg on your car bonnet. I love those balmy city nights, drinking beers at your local. Or camping on the Murray River listening to cicadas, lathered in mosquito repellent and getting woken by a crackle of cockatoos. So quintessentially Victorian.

Where do you usually swim? Why is this place special?
For a quick city escape, I go to a local’s spot in North Warrandyte on the Yarra River. For an ocean swim, I’ll head to Sunnymead Beach on the Great Ocean Road. Or, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll head to the rockpools at the gorge in Beechworth. They’re all special and unique in their own ways.

Where do you have a snack post swim?
I can’t go past a post-swim potato cake from the local fish’n’chip shop, wherever I am at the time.

What will you be doing during the summer? Any travel or holidays planned?
Adventuring. I take every summer off and hit the frog and toad in my 4x4, discovering new places to swim and camp. I’ll always set off just after New Year’s and spend the month exploring and swimming. For me, there’s nothing more physically and emotionally cleansing than plunging into fresh or salt water, so spending the summer swimming is like resetting myself for the year ahead. This summer, I’m heading to the coast of South Australia, west of Adelaide. It’s a coastline that I’m yet to explore and I hear it is incredible.

What music will you be listening to?
The many playlists I made in lockdown, which are an array of ’60s and ’70s songs, spanning a few different genres. One was made specifically with road trips and camping in mind; it includes Dennis Wilson, Leon Russell, the Stones, Link Wray, Derek Trucks Band, Faces, just to name a few. My most enjoyable times are on the wide-open road, with the windows down and the music turned up.

What will you be reading?
I was just given Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I can’t wait to have some down time and to get engrossed in a book again.

What will you be cooking?
Campfire cuisine. This usually involves sweet potatoes in the coals, meat on the grill or in a Dutch oven, grilled veggies, fried eggs (not on my bonnet) and pancakes. I feel more comfortable – and happy – to be cooking on a fire than I do in my own kitchen.

Caroline Clements is the author of Places We Swim, a guide to the best places to swim in Australia.