Boating is a great way to enjoy the water and is supported on many of our lakes, dams and reservoirs. In fact, the most popular inland waterway in Victoria for boating is GMW’s Lake Eildon, followed closely by Lake Eppalock.
GMW advises boat operators to always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), maintain a lookout for hazards at all times, and manage their boating activities to suit local conditions.
You should always:
- take account of the water levels and submerged hazards – if in doubt, slow to 5 knots or less
- seek out local knowledge on conditions and hazards
- maintain a good lookout
- ensure the motor kill switch is attached to the driver
- take note of signage at boat ramps
- ensure the vessel is equipped with the required safety equipment and that it is in good working condition and easily accessible
- do not overload the vessel.
Lakes and water storage dams can become very rough in windy conditions. Always be on the lookout for changing weather conditions and obtain an up to date weather report prior to heading out.
Many inland waters have very cold water temperatures even during warmer months of the year. Prepare for immersion by carrying and wearing warmer clothing when appropriate. If, on falling into cold water, you involuntarily gasp and breathe in water and you are wearing a PFD, it will ensure you come back to the surface.
Guidelines for safe boating
When visiting be sure to stay safe at all times by following the rules for safe boating including following speed restrictions and keeping a lookout for submerged trees and other boating hazards.
- On Victorian inland waters a 5 knot speed limit applies to all vessel operators and PWC operators within:
- 50m of the water’s edge (unless stated by notice)
- 50m of another vessel
- 50m of any fixed or floating structure in or on the water
- 50m of swimmers
- 100m of a diver's flag buoy or vessel
- Don’t drink and boat
- Zero blood alcohol limit applies for operators under 21 years of age and supervisors
- 0.05 blood alcohol limit applies for 21 years of age and over
- Maintain a good look out and operate at a safe speed
- Ensure you have the right safety equipment for all persons on-board including correctly fitted PFDs.
- Do not load your boat beyond its passenger carrying capacity.
- Carry enough PDFs for the passenger carrying capacity of the boat.
- You must wear the appropriate PFD for your vessel type at all times when operating on your own.
- You and your passengers must wear the appropriate PFD for your vessel type in times of heightened danger, i.e. when operating in adverse weather and waterway conditions.
- All boaters operating a powered recreational vessel on Victorian waters require a marine licence and must carry it at all times.
- The Marine Safety Act 2010 requires the owner of a recreational powered vessel (one equipped with an engine that is capable of being used for propulsion) to register the vessel.
Carry the minimum safety equipment required for your class of vessel under the Marine Safety Act 2010.
- A person must not operate a recreational vessel (including jetskis) or hire and drive vessel at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public, birds and marine animals.
For more information about recreational boating visit http://transportsafety.vic.gov.au/maritime-safety
Fishing is popular across the state with almost half of all Victorian boaters visiting inland waters to fish.
You can enjoy year-round fishing across many of GMW’s many lakes, dams and reservoirs.
We can’t guarantee you’ll go home with the catch of the day, but you’ll definitely have a great time trying for it.
Before heading out, make sure you have a current Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL). A RFL covers all forms of recreational fishing in all of Victoria’s marine, estuarine and inland waters.
Unless you are exempt, a RFL is required when taking, or attempting to take, any species of fish by any method including line fishing, bait collection, gathering shellfish, yabby fishing, prawning and spear fishing.
For more information, or to obtain a RFL, visit the DEDJTR website at Agriculture – Fisheries Victoria.
Boating and fishing safety during winter
- For safe boat launching in winter months - Use public boat ramp facilities provided, to avoid soil disturbance and vehicle bogging incidents in lake foreshore areas.
- There is a greater danger when operating vessels at low water levels - Be aware of submerged objects like rocks, sandbars, trees and other debris.
- Ensure you do a pre-winter trip weather check – Be aware that foggy and/or stormy conditions can lead to poor boat visibility on the water. High winds are dangerous and can lead to a boat capsizing.
Be aware that boating or on-water activities in cold weather brings greater danger – additional warm clothing can reduce buoyancy if a wearer ends up in the water. Remember wearing your life jacket on the outside of clothing is critical to your survival. Falling in cold water also means a higher chance of hypothermia
For more information about staying safe on the water, go to our Water Smarts page.