On the Water

Wednesday 6 December, 2023

Welcome to On the Water – Goulburn-Murray Water’s (GMW) water storages land and licensing update for the 2023/2024 Season.

Summer edition 2023/24

New Water (Recreational Area) Regulations now in effect

The Victorian Government’s Water (Recreational Area) Regulations 2023 (the regulations) came into effect on 19 August replacing all former regulations and GMW By laws.

The regulations support the ongoing safety and enjoyment of recreational users, visitors and the general public at 40 water storages across Victoria, and include GMW-managed dams, lakes, reservoirs and on land recreation areas.

Developed by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) and informed by feedback received via Engage Victoria, the regulations protect, conserve and preserve, water quality, cultural heritage, flora and fauna and built water corporation facilities.

To learn more about the changes and what you need to know before taking to the water go to the GMW Recreation page.

Lake Eildon

Water flowing through Lake Eildon's spillway
Water flowing through Lake Eildon's spillway

As the only lake in Victoria that permits houseboats, Lake Eildon is home to over 700 houseboats, plays a significant role in the State’s visitor economy and is central to the houseboat building industry.

The  Water (Lake Eildon Recreational Area) (Houseboats) Regulations 2013 (opens in new window)  were introduced by the Victorian Government to control and manage houseboat operations at Lake Eildon.  The regulations cover the application, issue, and transfer of licences, the numbers and types of houseboat licences available, the control of waste, including standards for blackwater treatment, and sets the fees for administration of licences. 

The general environmental duty (GED)(opens in new window) came into effect in 2021 under the Environment Protection Act 2017. The GED requires all Victorians to take steps that are ‘reasonably practicable’ to reduce risks to human health and the environment that their activities create.  

To protect the lake, water quality and enjoyment both now and for future generations, we all have a responsibility to reduce pollution and waste and do our part.  Houseboat builders, marina operators and houseboaters themselves must take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the health and environmental risks of houseboat use, particularly the management of houseboat wastewater.  

The current houseboat regulations are scheduled to sunset (expire) on 12 June 2024, and work is underway to remake them. DEECA is working with the houseboat industry and owners, GMW, and a range of experts to inform and explore what interventions are feasible for managing houseboat greywater.  

A broader public consultation stage is planned for early 2024 through the Engage Victoria website to gather stakeholder and community feedback.

Learn more about the review and next steps by visiting Greywater and houseboats (opens in new window)

Licences and Registration

Houseboat owners can find out more information in relation to houseboats on the  GMW website.

Visit here to:

  • apply to operate (including restricted terms use) or leave a houseboat within the Lake Eildon Recreational Area
  • renew the registration of a houseboat within the Lake Eildon Recreational Area
  • transfer, upgrade or alter an existing houseboat licence, and
  • submit change of address details.

Remember all houseboat owners must display their VicRoads assigned registration number clearly on their vessel.

For more information head to the  Transport Safety Victoria website. (opens in new window)  

Howqua Inlet progresses to concept designs

GMW has been working with Better Boating Victoria (BBV) and the Mansfield Shire Council to progress plans for a new public boat ramp on Lake Eildon.  The new boat ramp at Howqua Inlet will offer an additional option for launching and retrieving at Lake Eildon when water levels are between 78 per cent and 100 per cent.

To be funded and delivered in collaboration by Better Boating Victoria (BBV), the project aligns with the Victorian Recreational Boating Strategy which identified the need for a formalised boat ramp for recreational boaters in the Howqua Inlet region of Lake Eildon.  Boaters were recently provided the opportunity to have their say on the plans with concept designs progressed to public consultation.

To keep up to date with the progress of the Howqua Inlet boat ramp visit the  Better Boating Victoria website. (opens in new window)

Further information on Lake Eildon, including current storage levels and the facilities available at the lake can also be found on the  GMW storages webpage.

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Recreational Users Survey

Across Northern Victoria GMW manages 23 water storages and over 100,000 hectares of surrounding land.   Many are popular destinations providing locations for recreational enthusiasts, local communities and visitors to spend time on and around the water and connect with Victoria’s great outdoors.

GMW continues to seek opportunities to support and encourage locals and visitors alike to safely participate in activities such as boating, fishing, camping, recreation and cultural pursuits. Examples include recreational amenities such as parks, boat ramps, turning circles, visitor information, all abilities toilets, parking and pathways. 

Our third annual Recreational User Survey is now open. We value your input on what matters most to you at recreational facilities throughout the GMW network.

The  Recreational User Survey 2024.is open now until 5pm Thursday 29 February, 2024.  

We will use this feedback in our service planning now and into the future.

2022/2023 Results Snapshot

We received 629 responses, up 79% from the inaugural survey.


Regional Victoria


Metro Melbourne



94% of respondents access GMW Storages all year round

The main recreational activities across GMW managed storages included:



Jet ski

Skiing or Jetskiing




BBQ / Use of amenities


Kayaking or non-motorised craft



The main recreational activities across GMW managed storages included:


Access to water


Boat ramps







The preferred method of communication is online.

Visit  Your Say @ GMWto view the full results. 

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Making recreation more accessible 

Accessible Parking at Waranga Embankment
Accessible Parking at Waranga Embankment

GMW has been working with councils and government agencies to improve access at storages for all by improving facilities such all-ability toilet blocks, parking options, paths  and barbecues.

GMW-managed storages with all ability facilities include Lake Mulwala, Dartmouth Dam, Lake Buffalo, Lake William Hovell, Torrumbarry Weir, Lake Eildon, Waranga Basin, Greens Lake, Lake Eppalock, and Cairn Curran.

Most recently Lake Eppalock has installed all-ability toilets and barbecues – which are designed so there is space below the hotplate, meaning they are easier to use for people in wheelchairs – at both Randalls Cove and Kimbolton Recreation Area.

With the support of other agencies – including Better Boating Victoria, Transport Safety Victoria, and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action – GMW is looking to continue increasing the amount of all-ability facilities at its storages.

To learn more about the facilities available visit the  All Ability Facilities page on the GMW website.

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Talking Fish

A sustainable golden perch fishery habitat has been installed in Waranga Basin.  Fish habitats provide small ecosystems for different species of fish. The Waranga Basin fish habitat has been specifically designed for golden perch and constructed with a range of locally sourced native timber.

In support of the habitat 750,000 golden perch fingerlings will be stocked over the next three years.

Waranga Basin receives approximately 200,000 visitors every year and is a very popular destination among both boaters and fishers.  

Factors including the topography of the basin floor, the basin’s operating levels, accessibility for fishers and minimising the impact of other users at the storage were taken into account when determining the location for the new habitat.

Goulburn Valley Association of Angling Clubs (GVAAC) successfully applied to Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) for a Large Recreational Fishing Licence Fee Grant. The Wedge Group designed the fish habitat and Campaspe Shire Council provided timber from its Rushworth to Murchison Rail Trail Project. 

Works on the habitat were completed on Friday 13 October 2023.

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Recreation Fishing Guide out now

Before going fishing remember to familiarise yourself and your guests with latest edition of the  Recreational Fishing Guide.

The guide includes information on:

  • licencing requirements
  • size and bag limits
  • closed seasons
  • permitted fishing equipment
  • waters with fishing restrictions, and
  • safety guidelines for fishing.

Here you’ll also find a range of useful tips and FREE products to help you abide by the rules including fish length rulers and measures.

The guide is available in multiple languages and can be accessed online or via the official Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide ISO or Android App. 

To learn more including how to purchase your licence visit the  Victorian Fisheries Authority website. (opens in new window) .

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Planning works? Start here...

The arrival of warmer weather brings the opportunity to get onto those works in and around the water. 

Regardless if the works include replacing like for like, repairs, vegetation management or new works, remember you are required to apply for approval prior to commencing any works or activities on GMW managed land or water.

For more information on approvals, including what structures are allowed and how to apply , renew, transfer, vary or cancel an existing occupation licence, please visit the  Occupation Licencesweb page.

If you have any questions, please call your local storage manager to discuss or email propertyservices@gmwater.com.au

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Make safety your number one priority

The return of Summer means longer days and warmer weather.  It also means a return to the water and outdoors to experience the recreational offerings at GMW’s water storages. 

Changed conditions - Plan ahead

Seasonal changes and significant weather events have resulted in rainfall filling storages across the state. Inflows to Lake Eildon in June were recorded at three times the monthly average.

Higher water levels can result in changed hazard conditions above and below the water. Vegetation cover, trees and debris that would normally be above the waterline or in the riverbeds may have changed making hazards no longer visible.

Boating and swimming restrictions are in place due to more turbulent and high running water, spilling, and strong currents. It is vital that you and your visitors remain up to date with current restrictions and conditions.

To find out what restrictions are in place before you take to the water visit our  Water Storages page.  On location look out for GMWs safety signage, scan QR codes for important notices and updates, to check storage levels, and access recreation guides and details of the facilities at each location.

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Take out what you bring in

Litter and waste has a significant impact on the environment, water quality and the health of our waterways, native wildlife and can impact the safety of people.   Remember when accessing waterways and recreational facilities avoid glass and single use plastic where possible and come prepared to take out the rubbish and waste you take in.

To provide even more incentives to do the right thing, Victoria’s container deposit scheme (CDS Vic) is now in place.  The scheme offers a 10-cent refund for every eligible can, carton and bottle returned

To find your nearest collection centre and learn more visit the  Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme website. (opens in new window)

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Summer podcasts

Talking Water with GMW offers a range of short and informative podcasts exploring a variety of topics and are available for free - directly from our website or download them from Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Here's a few of our top recommendations to add to your summer playlist:

Episode 3: Recreation at our storages

GMW’s Recreation and Land Officer Chris Braden outlines some of the many activities people can enjoy on GMW's storages and waterways and plans to improve recreational access into the future. 

Episode 7: Water safety

Marine Safety Victoria’s Recreational Boating Safety Manager Gareth Johnson talks about some of the most frequent hazards people face on inland waterways and how they can be avoided.

He offers some practical advice on things to test, prepare and be aware of to ensure your next trip onto the water is trouble free.

Episode 22: Managing Water Storages

Northern Victoria’s Resource Manager Dr Mark Bailey explains the differences in the lakes, dams, and reservoirs GMW manages, and how they are operated.

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