If you like a sense of isolation and a lakeside bush camping experience, Lake Lonsdale could be the swim for you. The lake is
accessible from the northern side, where there are two day visitor areas and several camping areas, each about 800 metres apart.
You can swim at any of these spots, but only the two day visitor areas have formally designated swimming areas with no boat access.
The Sandbar day visitor area at the eastern end of the lake offers multiple beaches with the gentlest grades
into the water, whilst the day visitor area near the boat ramp at the western end offers a slightly deeper water swim with fewer
Above: The swimming area near the boat ramp
Lake Lonsdale felt quite desolate to me when I visited. It was only the second week of January, but the day
visitor areas were completely deserted and there were no boats out on the water.
Despite being right next to a lake, the heat was sapping, and a cacophony of cicadas throbbed at a constant fever pitch. The
views around the lake's edge were largely obscured by the submerged trees that ring the lake edge, due to the high water levels
at the time. Facing away from the water, looking towards the bush, it felt like I could have been lost in a patch of Mallee scrub,
deep in the Big or Little Deserts.
For swimming, the clarity of the water was markedly poorer than upstream Lake Fyans, with limited ability to see
underwater hazards, particularly the many submerged trees. I visited when the lake was at around 80% of capacity, which in my opinion
is too high for swimming. I would suggest that unless you know the area well, it is best to wait until the volume of water in the lake drops
to below at least 60-70% of capacity, when the vegetation at the lake edge is more likely to be high and dry, and well out of the way. Walking from beach
to beach along the foreshore would also be easier at lower lake levels. If you want to know the lake levels at any given time, you can
access them from the GWM Water website
Above: A view of the submerged vegetation at the Sandbar
This swimming spot did not make it into my top 50 in Victoria. The main reason being the combination of poor visibility and underwater
hazards. If you are looking for better quality swimming holes in western Victoria, grab a copy of the guide to
Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Sandbar Road, Lake Lonsdale, 16 km west of Stawell and 250 km (approx. 3 hr) drive north-west of the
From Melbourne head out along the Western Fwy (A8) to Stawell. Continue on for a further 6 km past
Stawell and then head west along Sandbar Road for around 10 km. The access roads to the day visitor areas at the lake
are all gravel, but suitable for 2WD vehicles at the time of my visit.
At the boat ramp day visitor area: toilets, rubbish bins, boat ramp, car park. At Sandbar: The Adam and
Eve toilets plus a car park. At Reppers day visitor area: car park
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Beginners, provided that you are in an area free of submerged vegetation
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
No campfires from December to April inclusive.
Trees are not to be cut down (but fallen timber can be used as firewood on-site). No cats. No firearms except during
duck season. Vehicles must keep to obvious tracks. No vehicles on the beach or sand dunes except when launching boats.
No unregistered motor vehicles including unregistered trail bikes. Dogs permitted but must
be kept under control at all times and tethered at night. Water skiing and jet skis permitted. Boats must be launched from
designated ramps only. Long-term camping of more than eight continuous weeks must be approved by the Patrol Officer. Portable
generators must be within ten metres of the owner's tent and closer to the owner's tent than any other tent. Do not put
portable generators in long grass.
Shade available in and out of the water at high water levels. Shade not available in or out of the water at low
The toilets at the boat ramp day visitor area are wheelchair accessible, but accessing the water
for swimming is likely to be very difficult for wheelchairs due to the sand and steep bank near the lake edge.
Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water manages the lake and Northern Grampians Shire Council manages the boating.
Camping is available at four designated camping areas along the lake. At the time of visiting the
camping was free, but fees have been charged in the past and the lake management plan proposed fees for the future. If you
are looking for overnight accommodation in the area, you can try
accommodation in nearby Stawell
, at Lake Fyans
Nearby attractions: Lake Fyans
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information.
Specific to this site, there were warnings on site about the potential
for falling limbs from overhanging trees.
The marker indicates the location of the car park at the boat ramp day visitor area.
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 spot and have any further updates on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
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. If you have swum in Lake Lonsdale when there was less submerged
vegetation, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.
© Brad Neal 2018. All rights reserved.