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Boating and swimming zones

Parks Victoria has established boating and swimming zones to improve safety across Port Phillip and Western Port. The boating and swimming zones have been introduced in stages since 2010.  The zones are marked with aids to assist in navigation and clear signage installed.

Download summary brochure here (PDF, 3.11MB)

Why establish Recreational Boating and Swimming Zones?

Boating and swimming zones are prepared under the Marine Safety Act 2010 with the primary aim of providing a safe environment for water users. They apply conditions of operation and prohibit incompatible uses for safety reasons.

In 2009 Parks Victoria completed a comprehensive two-year review of all boating and swimming zones across Port Phillip and Western Port. The review found that the existing boating and swimming zones could be difficult to understand from the water or land. There were a large number of different types of zones that made it overly complex to interpret. They also did not reflect changing trends in boating and swimming activity.

Parks Victoria, as the Local Port Manager of Port Phillip and Western Port, jointly with Transport Safety Victoria who oversee the management of recreational boating across Victoria, reviewed the existing boating and swimming zones. The review was to determine what zone types are required in each local area around Port Phillip and Western Port to allow safe access and use of the coast and waterways.

Following extensive community consultation, a standard set of zones and criteria for application was devised. Parks Victoria has worked in partnership with Transport Safety Victoria and in consultation with the local community to apply these zones across Port Phillip and Western Port.

The principles that have been applied during review of the recommendations are that the boating and swimming zones should be:

  • Safe;
  • Practical;
  • Easy to identify;
  • Easy to comply with and regulate;
  • Responding to current and anticipated future water uses.

What has changed?

Some of the general and more significant changes as a result of reviewing each local area include:

  • The realignment and simplification of zones to provide a more user-friendly arrangement;
  • The consistent application of ‘Swimming Only’ zones in front of Life Saving Clubs to provide increased swimmer safety;
  • The introduction of ‘Shared Wind Sport areas’ to allow for the safe operation of the increasingly popular sport;
  • The removal of 'No Sailboard, 'Sailboards Only' and 'PWC Only' zones to reflect changing water uses and duplication with other zones; and
  • The adjustment of the ‘5 Knot’ zone between Safety Beach and Blairgowrie from 760m from shore to 500m from shore.

A simpler set of new zones replaced the previous zones. These are:

  • Boating Only - swimming is not permitted in this zone.
  • Swimming Only - all vessels, including personal watercraft, powered and non-powered vessels, are not permitted in this zone.
  • Shared Wind Sport Area - this zone provides an area for kite boarding, sail boarding and other wind based boating which may exceed 5 knots except within 50m proximity to other vessels and swimmers. Other vessels are permitted in this area.
  • 5 Knot Speed Limit – all vessels, applicable either:    
    • as a zone extending to 200m from shore. Swimming and boating are permitted within 200m of the shore subject to defined areas above. All vessels must adhere to the 5 knot speed limit in this zone; or
    • as a zone extending to 500m from shore on the Mornington Peninsula from Martha Cove, Dromana to Sullivan Bay, Sorrento. Swimming and boating are permitted within 500m of the shore subject to defined areas above. All vessels must adhere to the 5 knot speed limit in this zone.
  • In some areas, with exceptional circumstances, two pre-existing zones were retained. These are:
    • No Wind Sports – sailboarding and kiteboarding are not permitted;
    • No Personal Watercraft – personal watercraft (including jetskis) are prohibited in this zone.

How were the new zones implemented?

Parks Victoria commenced implementation of the endorsed zones in 2010  and installed buoys, piles and signage as part of the upgrade work.

The zones were prioritised and implemented in stages. This boating zone brochure shows the implemented zones.

The boating and swimming zones become a Vessel Operating Zone Rule enforceable under the Marine Safety Act 2010.  An interactive map is available on the Maritime Safety Victoria website to view all the rules across Victoria. Check this site to understand the rules before you visit a waterway.

Parks Victoria, Maritime Safety Victoria and the Victorian Water Police will continue to enforce boating and swimming zones. Notices to Mariners will also be issued to advise of any revised zone arrangements and works occurring on the water.

Stage 1

Port Melbourne to St Kilda (Implemented)

Stage 2

Dromana to Blairgowrie; Werribee River to Williamstown and Phillip Island North (Implemented)

Stage 3

Mt Martha to Elwood (Implemented)

Stage 4

Bellarine Peninsula and Corio Bay (Implemented)

For further information, please see the full boating zone brochure

Frequently asked questions

Responses to frequently asked questions are available in the FAQ's document.

For further information and to keep updated with boating and swimming zones in your local area, please contact the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or email info@parks.vic.gov.au.