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Recreational activities

The Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay are enjoyed by many Victorians and are two of our most beautiful natural assets.

The bay supports a healthy self-sustaining ecosystem and is one of Victoria’s most popular recreational destinations. Visitors can enjoy foreshore areas, safe beaches, boating, swimming, fishing, a variety of sports and other enjoyable activities.  

By far the largest input into Port Phillip Bay is the Yarra River which runs for about 242 kilometres starting east of Warburton. Its valley is world renowned for its vineyards and natural beauty. The Yarra River plays host to many recreational and nature-based activities such as rowing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and the many nearby paths and parks are perfect for cycling, walking and picnics.


Swimming in the Bay and Yarra River


From 1 December until the Labour Day long weekend in March, Beach Report and Yarra Watch forecasts are your guides to water quality in the bay and Yarra River.

Beachgoers at many popular bay beach locations, including Altona, St Kilda, Mordialloc, Frankston, and Beaumaris can also get up to date, localised water quality information at the beach via signage updated by Life Saving Victoria.  

Lifesavers are only on duty when the red and yellow flags are displayed and remember to always swim between the red and yellow flags at a patrolled beach.  For more information about Surf Life Saving go to Life Saving Victoria’s website.


What water activities are there?


Whether you want to fish, sail, kite surf, swim with the fur seals or kayak there is plenty for everyone to do on the bay or the Yarra River. 

If you want to book a tour or activity on Port Phillip Bay or the Yarra River including:

  • Swimming with fur seals and dolphins
  • Kite surfing
  • Snorkelling
  • Scuba diving
  • Canoeing or kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Stand up paddle boarding

 For information on more licensed tour operations, visit the Parks Victoria website.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is responsible for managing fisheries resources and regulating all game hunting activity in Victoria. For more information on salt and fresh water fishing visit DELWP’s website.

The Yarra Riverkeeper Association, a not-for-profit community organisation, runs educational events, river tours and gives informative presentations to schools and community groups. For more information visit the Yarra Riverkeeper Association’s website.


What types of foreshore or river side activities can be undertaken?


The Victorian Government is committed to providing Victorians with opportunities to enjoy our coastlines and parks. The Summer by the Sea Program runs from 2 - 26 January 2014 and has more than 300 free guided activities across the state. Activities range from rock pool exploration to holiday discovering programs in our marine and national parks and reserves.  For further information on the Summer by the Sea program visit DELWPs website.

There are extensive walking and cycling trails around the bay and along the Yarra River.  Stroll along the many interpretive walking trails on bayside beaches, or ride a bicycle from Altona Meadows to Carrum. Wonder at the magnificent trees and ferns along the Yarra walking tracks or picnic areas, or ride along the Main Yarra Trail from Southbank to Templestowe. Check beachside and Yarra River council websites for walking and cycling paths, and organised activities including: beach volleyball, beach soccer, bands, sand sculpture displays, outdoor cinema’s and community events including fun runs and Iron man competitions.  

For views over Port Phillip Bay heads venture to Queenscliff and the redeveloped harbour area. Or areas to explore are:

  • Coastal parks
  • Reserves
  • Sanctuaries
  • Picnic areas
  • Piers
  • Harbours
  • Walking and cycling activities along the Yarra River
  • Wetlands
  • Bird watching
  • Historic or cultural sites


Want to take your dog to the beach too?


Our animal friends love a day at the beach just as much we do. Many beaches and foreshore areas are leash free, however local council times and restrictions vary greatly so check your local council’s website before you go. Help keep the bay and waterways clean by always remembering to clean up after your dog.


How to get around?


A car/passenger ferry runs 7 days a week between Queenscliff and Sorrento with the journey taking 40 minutes. If you are lucky enough you will see the bays dolphins enjoying the ships’ wake. For more information visit Searoad’s website.

A punt service provides pedestrians and cyclists an easy way to get across the Yarra River.  Operating from Spotswood to Fishermen’s Bend in Port Melbourne. For more information visit West gate punt’s website.

Or visit the Public Transport Victoria website for information on bus, trains and trams.


How you can look after the Yarra River and bay

Prefer to catch fish than fishing line?  Want sand between your toes and not cigarette butts? Then there are small things we can all do so we can all have a clean and safe environment, whilst enjoying the bay and Yarra River.

  • If you are out and not near a rubbish bin, take your litter home. Carry a bag with you and treat public environments like you would your own home. 
  • Don’t throw discarded fishing line, fishing nets, hooks or sinkers into the bay or Yarra River.
  • Dispose of extinguished cigarettes appropriately or place in a personal ash tray to take home.
  • Do not sweep, hose or place litter, organics or chemicals near stormwater drainage.
  • Get involved or start a workplace clean-up program.
  • Do you want to help restore and protect these environments and meet other members of your community?  Then consider volunteering with a local Landcare/Coastcare group or beach patrol group.  For further information go to how you can help on this website.

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