Parker Hill Estuary, Victoria, Australia.

Posted on April 5, 2016


parker hill swimming spotThe secret Parker Hill swimming spot, a short swim up river

img_6684_cb.jpgOne of the beautiful locals along the path, a stunning tiger snake

IMG_6717.JPGThe path downhill to the beach and river from the Parker Hill campsite

img_6719_cb.jpgThe start of the swim up river

IMG_6687.JPGThe ocean where the ocean meets the river

IMG_6670.JPGSunrise from the top of the hill by the camp spot

img_6705_cb.jpgNearby Crayfish bay – excellent for snorkeling

Finding Parker Hill just happened really. It was the school holidays and a couple of friends and myself were keen on finding a peaceful spot away from holiday makers during a time that tends to be frantic along the coast.

I wasn’t optimistic. I read about the ‘steep’ hill down from the campsite leading to the beach and river. Despite being put off by this steep incline, Parker Hill was calm, quiet and meant we had the river, the sound of crashing waves from below us and part of the Great Otway National Park at our doorstep with a walk past the beautiful Crayfish bay for snorkeling. Plus I got a workout going up and down the path.

There was a lot of laughing and a lot of squealing on this trip due to the cold river water (and due to the beautiful hilarious souls I was with).

This is a national park. That means nature. That means snakes. I’m down with snakes these days. They’re more afraid of me than I am of them and they’re beautiful. That being said it’s not genius to go stomping through the reeds as I did in search of the ‘path’ to the spot I’d read about in a book published half my lifetime ago.

I was with my park ranger friend, Brooke. She assured me that snakes cannot bite you if they’re swimming. Brooke knows a lot of things so, putting fear aside, I swam upstream with the reeds either side of me, home to all those snakes. I kept reminding myself as I made my way along the brisk water that no snake could bite me. That really we were all just enjoying the water together – no biting!

This spot isn’t the most majestic I’ve found but it was an experience and part of the thrill of finding it came from having to swim upstream like a real explorer, not knowing how far I’d have to go but just going for it as my limbs eased into the sensation of being snap frozen. But anyone who has been bush camping knows that even a cold swim is worth it. Going to sleep in a tent after exploring and conquering and being bathed in fresh water is the bomb!

Where: In the Great Otway National park, West of Apollo Bay

Getting to the spot: The Parker Hill campground is easily located online and on maps (see the Confessions Map too). GPS coordinates to the road to Parker Hill: -38.8464,143.554

About the spot: The Parker Hill estuary swimming spot isn’t well-known and other directions online are outdated and, as I discovered, unsafe. When you reach the campground you’ll find a path leading down the steep hill to the beach and river. Other directions I found said to take an unmarked path along the boggy reeds upstream to where the small waterfall and rocks are.

I tried to do this but after three run ins with snakes and no real path still intact I had to backtrack. Getting bitten by a tiger snake with no phone reception in an isolated location is not smart. It’s a death sentence. So…

I swam about 200 metres up the river to find the spot and it was worth the chilly April dip in the water. I baked on the rocks with four other lizards and no one else about except friends with whom I was camping.

Accommodation: Camping at Parker Hill! Nearby towns will have a variety of accommodation.

Facilities: At the campground there is drop toilets and a rain water tank for washing up water. You must respectfully take your rubbish with you as there are no bins here.

Dogs: Definitely not. It’s a national park and wildlife is protected.

About the area: The Great Otway National Park is huge and stretches from Torquay through to Princetown and up through the Otways hinterland towards Colac. The Great Ocean Walk, stretches 91 kms from the beautiful Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead (adjacent to the 12 Apostles). It is possible to do the walk and camp along the way with a permit.

Nearby known swimming spots: Stevenson’s Falls, Marriner’s Falls, Cumberland Falls (See the Confessions Map for more).

 Nearby towns: Lorne, Apollo Bay

Please follow the confessions code when visiting Parker Hill!