Green Hill Lake, Ararat VIC
Freshwater Swimming Holes in Australia

 
Green Hill Lake is a lake of contrast for swimmers and can quickly change. When I last visited in early 2017, the lake was full to the brim and great for both middle distance swimming and playing around on inflatables in the shallows. There are two big plusses for Green Hill Lake. Firstly, it's about a one minute drive away from the Western Highway, but once you unstick yourself from your car seat and get into the water, it will feel like it's miles away. At around 2 hours drive from Melbourne, this swim is the perfect distance away for a rest stop if you are in for a long haul heading west. Swimming in Green Hill Lake at Ararat Above: The beach nearest to the boat ramp at Green Hill Lake, when the lake was full to the brim

The second big advantage is the lakeside camping. You can literally walk out of your tent or van and 20 steps later be cooling off your feet. Camping is free, with a donation box on the front of the toilet block if you want to help contribute to the maintenance and upgrade of the facilities during your stay. These donations have been ploughed directly back into the facilities at the lake, such as the construction of the shaded playground for kids.

There are two designated beaches at the southern and eastern ends of the lake and swimming is not permitted outside of these areas because of the recreational boat traffic.
Entry into the lake at both beaches is gradual, with coarse sand for the first 10 metres or so. After that, in the deeper water, you'll find a smooth mud under your feet. Spiny rush is scattered around the lake edge, but is less prevalent at the southernmost beach (near the boat ramp), which makes it the better choice for swimming. The local management committee has been reducing the amount of spiny rush at this more popular beach. I encountered grasses/rushes only occasionally in deeper water, and they tended to flatten down under my feet. Swimming in Green Hill Lake at Ararat Above: Green Hill Lake in drier years

The few times that I have visited prior to 2017, including in Spring 2014, the beach was high and dry with a covering of grass that suggested the water had not been near full capacity any time recently prior to that. The lake is very shallow, which means that it evaporates quickly. When water levels are low, shallow depth means that the water also recedes a long way from the lake edge. My advice is to make the most of Green Hill Lake when the water level is high, because history tells us that good swims like I had in early 2017 don't last forever.

Below is a video that I took of my swim at the lake, and conversations with representatives of the Green Hill Lake Development Board on site, who were kind enough to take time out to show me around. The lake was full, the sky was blue, the water was warm but the wind was a bit strong, so you might need to turn up the volume to hear the commentary in parts.



Other water based activities at the lake include fishing (the lake is stocked), boating, jetskiing and canoeing.

Despite being a pleasant swim when conditions are good, this swimming hole did not make it into my top 50 in Victoria because the high lake levels suitable for swimming are intermittent. Several swimming holes west of Ararat did make it into the top 50, so if you are looking for swimming holes in western Victoria in a dry year with a more reliable source of water, grab a copy of the guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Western Hwy, 4 km east of the Ararat town centre and 200 km (approx. 2 hr 15 mins) drive north west of the Melbourne CBD.
Latitude:-37.295619 Longitude:142.981585
Getting there: From Melbourne head out along the Western Fwy. Green Hill Lake is on the right hand side, right next to the highway, shortly before you reach Ararat.
Facilities: Boat ramp, toilets, campground, shaded playground, park benches, showers, sheltered barbecue, fireplaces, outdoor exercise equipment
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild
Water clarity: Murky, primarily due to an orange-brown hue consistent with natural tannins, rather than a high sediment load
Under foot: Sand, fine gravel, mud and occasional grasses or rushes
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Beginners
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No diving or swimming from jetty or spillway, swimming only at designated beach areas, dogs must be on leads, horses only allowed on made roads, fires only in fireplaces provided, no glass, no collecting firewood
Sun shade: Shade available remote from the water. No shade in the water or along the water's edge at the main swimming beach.
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: No formal access is provided, but you could probably navigate across the reasonably flat terrain to the water, with assistance
Managing authority: Green Hill Lake Development Board (local volunteers), Ararat Rural City Council
Accommodation Options: There is a campground on the shores of Green Hill Lake - you don't need to book, just turn up and pay your fee if a site is available (which it usually is). If you are planning to stay overnight in the area and don't want to camp, you can also try accommodation in nearby Ararat.
Nearby attractions: Ararat wind farm, plus Nguyen Chinese in the main street of Ararat, which does a fantastic pork fried rice.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the preferred swimming beach.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by swimmers on this website. If you are visiting this swimming spot and have any further updates on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming hole, please fill in the comment box below. I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions.

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© Brad Neal 2016. All rights reserved. This work is not to be sampled, copied, modified, adapted or reused for commercial purposes without the written consent of the author.