A driveway is no place for a boat, so, now that you’re the proud owner of a watercraft, it’s time to take it to its element.
Well, with over 2-and-a-half thousand kilometres of coast, some 85,000 kilometres of rivers and over 50 lakes, boaties are spoiled for choice in Victoria!
Here, we explore some of the finest spots around Melbourne for which to set sail.
1. Patterson River
If freshwater boating and fishing is your thing, the semi man-made Patterson River in the Port Phillip catchment deserves your attention.
Considered one of the state’s best fishing spots, flathead, salmon, bream and snapper abound.
The river is picturesque and great for families, with parkland in which to fire up one of the many barbecues, as well as biking and walking trails.
With a large car and trailer parking area, plus four two-lane boat ramps, access is easy – but that does make the spot a little busy.
2. Western Port
If you’re looking for a sheltered ocean spot, Western Port is the place to go.
An oasis just over an hour from Melbourne, east of Port Phillip on the other side of the Mornington Peninsula, Western Port is Victoria’s second-largest bay – 680 square kilometres!
Thanks to it being flanked by Phillip Island and French Island, you’re well protected here, and you can enter either from under the San Remo bridge, or the west.
Depending on the weather, there are plenty of launch sites: Corinella, Blind Bight, Stony Point, and Hastings, to name a few.
The northern, eastern and western arms all offer great fishing, and it’s always lee-ward, so you can enjoy flat seas.
3. Lake Eildon
Head northeast of Melbourne for 140 kilometres and you’ll find yourself at one of the country’s most coveted boating spots, the famous Lake Eildon.
When the skies have been generous with rain, this impressive stretch of freshwater from Bonnie Doon to Jamieson is a beautiful, fun spot that’s 6 times bigger than Sydney Harbour!
Aside from boating, you can kayak, water ski, wakeboard and fish here, or just frolic in the water and relax on the bank.
Public ramps make access simple, and if you don’t want to leave, you don’t have to!
Set up camp at Fraser Camping Area, which welcomes tents and campervans, at remote Jerusalem Creek Campground, or at rugged O’Toole Flat.
For those seeking to add a road trip to their boating adventure, Anglesea, located 90 minutes from Melbourne – an hour before the entrance to Great Ocean Road – makes a great weekend getaway spot.
Here, you can explore both beach and river, with lots of fishing opportunities.
Be aware that entry to Anglesea is easier for tinnies than other boats – if you plan on pulling a boat in here, you’ll need to plan for the tide, and enlist helpers who don’t mind getting wet!
The kids will love this place, you can hire paddle boats, explore the fairy garden on the East bank, and enjoy the relaxed vibe perfect for leaving the city behind.
5. Yarra River
While some boat to escape the city bustle, there’s no better way to explore the heart of Melbourne than cruising the Yarra.
A whopping 242 kilometres from Mt Baw Baw to Port Phillip, there’s plenty to see, and meandering along the vibrant CBD waterfront is a must.
Enjoy a unique view of the city as you cruise this urban icon, with exceptional opportunities to catch bream and mullet, too.
There are no public ramps here, so head to Williamstown or St Kilda, and be aware that the Yarra’s home to some low bridges – especially when the tide’s up!
When you’re ready for dry land that’s anything but, berth at the Docklands to experience art, culture, and dining.
6. Lake Nagambie
A one-and-a-half-hour drive away from Melbourne lies Lake Nagambie, a water sports paradise boasting awesome water-skiing in selected zones, with a dedicated zone just 6ks further on the Goulburn River.
Perfect for adventurers with time on their hands, Lake Nagambie also offers markets, cafes, bars (and even a brewery) and wineries, so when you’ve had enough of playing in and on the water, take some time to explore the land.
Lake Nagambie welcomes both powered and unpowered vessels and is large enough to safely accommodate everyone.
A new deep-water ramp was built in 2019 and it gives 24-hour access to the Goulburn River plus generous car and trailer parking via Loddings Lane.
7. Port Philip Bay
Victoria’s largest bay, Port Phillip is Australia’s busiest port, and a popular recreational boating destination, for good reason.
Home to more than 30 yacht clubs and marinas, there’s plenty to experience on and off the drink.
On water, sail, cruise, kayak, canoe, swim, water-ski and wakeboard.
On land, explore the beaches and coves.
Like its neighbour, Western Port (on the other side of the peninsula), Port Phillip is popular with anglers seeking everything from whiting and salmon to gummy sharks – not to mention the huge annual snapper migration that locals call the ‘crimson tide’.
There are whale and dolphin-spotting opportunities!
48-hour public berthing is available on the Port’s piers and jetties.
Whether you’re chasing the rush of water sports or the catch of the day, there’s no shortage of brilliant places to take your boat around Melbourne.
Just be sure to download the relevant boating guide for each area’s safety rules and restrictions to make your voyage safe and fun.
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