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Current River Access

Can I access the Barwon River for recreational use?

The Barwon River is currently open for recreational use. The recent high rainfall and ongoing flooding has led to significant damage to paths and facilities beside the Barwon River in Geelong. The clean-up has commenced and is ongoing as the facilities are assessed for damage, mud and debris removed from walking and cycling paths, and infrastructure repaired.

Access to the Barwon River is now reopened as flood waters have receded, however recreational users of the Barwon River are advised to take precautions to ensure their safety. Please be on the lookout for obstructions and damage caused by the high flows- and report any hazards to info@ccma.vic.gov.au.

  • Stay aware of current water quality by checking the EPA website (see link below).
  • While boaters are now free to return to the waterway they should exercise care and keep a look out for navigation hazards.
  • Paddlers and boaters are reminded to beware of waterways during and after heavy rain.
  • An increased risk remains from submerged objects and debris such as logs and other objects floating on and under the surface.
  • Check flood and weather warnings with the Bureau of Meteorology, and in the case of flood warnings, avoid using the waterway. Victorian Warnings Summary (bom.gov.au)

As part of the reopening of the Barwon River in Geelong, the Corangamite CMA assessed the river for hazards that may be present after the recent flooding. This has been done now due to the river being back at a normal operating level.

Using qualified commercial marine services, sonar has been used to assess the hazards underwater from Queens Park downstream to the Gun Dog Lane bridge. Overall, the river was clear from major underwater hazards close to the water surface.

Several exposed trees that have been washed downstream into key recreational areas have been relocated across to the banks of the river, with some being removed completely. Various other pieces of rubbish were also removed in the process.

It is still important to be mindful of potential hazards within the river and always take caution when enjoying water-based activities. Swimming is never recommended in the Barwon River in Geelong.

Risks to human health when recreating on the Barwon River

In response to recent flooding, the EPA are currently monitoring water quality on the Barwon River to determine if it meets standards for primary and secondary contact. For advice on current conditions in the Barwon River and Estuary visit https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/flood-impacted-rivers#barwon-river-data  

This risk-based approach takes a precautionary approach as the Barwon estuary is very popular for primary contact, and high-risk groups (e.g., children). Barwon River in Geelong is popular for water skiing, which is considered primary contact. Secondary contact recreation like rowing still has risk with spray and skin contact.

Causes of beach and river pollution

Pollution often reaches beaches and rivers after storms, but it can also happen during dry weather.

The biggest risk of illness comes from faecal pollution (poop). It can come from a range of sources, including:

  • Faulty septic tanks
  • Sewerage system leaks
  • Poor waste management at homes and businesses
  • Cross connections between sewers and stormwater
  • Boat discharges
  • Animals, including pets, wildlife, birds and farm animals.

This pollution can increase the risk of illness for people using the water for recreation.

Information for boating

  • While boaters are now free to return to the waterway they should exercise care and keep a look out for navigation hazards.
  • Paddlers and boaters are reminded to beware of waterways during and after heavy rain.
  • An increased risk remains from submerged objects and debris such as logs and other objects floating on and under the surface.
  • Check flood and weather warnings with the Bureau of Meteorology, and in the case of flood warnings, avoid using the waterway. Victorian Warnings Summary (bom.gov.au)

Contact Us

Colac Office

64 Dennis Street, Colac VIC 3250
PO Box 159, Colac, VIC 3250
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

T: 1800 002 262
E: info@ccma.vic.gov.au

Geelong Office

54A Corio St, Geelong VIC 3220
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

T: 1800 002 262
E: info@ccma.vic.gov.au