Only swim at beaches, rivers or lakes where swimming is permitted and never swim alone – there may be strong currents, debris and other hazards in the water. Always check safety signs. If you’re heading out of the city, check the Vic Emergency and Tourism Australia websites for information on bushfire-affected areas, road closures and other travel alerts.
There is a surfer’s law that you mustn’t reveal secret surf spots to others, to keep isolated, local breaks somewhat crowd-free. The same cannot be said for swimming beaches. Though these spots are idyllic when you get them all to yourself, we’re of the opinion this natural bounty should be respectfully shared. There’s certainly plenty to go around.
Punchbowl Coastal Reserve, Kilcunda
Swimming at any of the secluded beaches along the George Bass Coastal Walk requires a certain level of commitment, but it could be the most revealing hike you do this summer. The walk between San Remo and Kilcunda is along the top of the cliffs on a clearly defined trail looking out towards Phillip Island. Along the journey, you’ll find paths shooting off down to beaches, and reef platforms with rock pools. The full walk is seven kilometres one way, so you’ll need the better part of an afternoon to account for plenty of swimming stops along the way. It’s likely you’ll have these beaches to yourself too. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and make sure if you hike this path one way, you have a ride back to your car at the other end, or are prepared to walk the return trip. Warning: these beaches are remote, so obey warning signs.
Addiscot Beach, Point Addis
Depending on how you like to swim (in the ocean waves, versus the calmer inlets and rockpools) the far end of Addiscot Beach at Point Addis, near Torquay, should be on your list. Just past the popular and world-renowned Bells Beach, Addiscot is tucked into a quiet, sheltered bay with a backdrop of dramatic, crumbling sandstone cliffs. Outer reefs protect the cove from swell, making it one of the most-friendly beaches for swimming along this coast. Point Addis itself is not particularly secret, but the nudie part down the far end of the beach is a little more discrete (even though it’s been a nude beach since 1986). Entry is down the main steps to the fully-clad section, then stroll at least a few hundred metres down the beach before you strip down. It’s not for the faint-hearted – it’s for the bare-bummed.
Childers Cove, Warrnambool
Childers Cove is the kind of place you only hear about from a local, so it’s bittersweet to blow the lid off this secret spot. Just outside of Warrnambool, on this infamously wild coastline, the inlet might be one of the most protected places to swim on the Great Ocean Road. Turn off the Great Ocean Road at Childers Cove Road and drive 11 kilometres, passing two other bays (Murnanes Bay and Sandy Cove) with towering limestone cliffs and grassy green bluffs. From the car park, steps will take you down to the picturesque 100-metre long beach. Swim in the clear shallow water (only when safe and at low tide – this is an unpatrolled beach) and revel in the ultimate isolation of your own private Idaho.
Find out more about the best places to swim in Australia via @placesweswim.