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Green Hill Lake, Ararat
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria

Green Hill Lake is a lake of contrast for swimmers and can quickly change. When I last visited in a relatively wet year, the lake was full to the brim and great for both middle distance swimming and playing around on inflatables in the shallows. 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 (Order this image)

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.

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 (Order this image)

At other times when I have visited, 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.
Other 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
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 want to stay overnight in the area near this swim, you can try the following options, with Ararat being the nearest large town. All distances below are by road, not as the crow flies.
Nearby accommodation:Distance from swim:
Green Hill Lake Campground 0 m
Ararat Motor Inn 3 km
Ararat Southern Cross Motor Inn 4 km
Booking your accommodation via these links may result in a commission (at no additional cost to the price of the linked item) to swimmingholeheaven.com that helps maintain and enhance this website.
Managing authority: Green Hill Lake Development Board (local volunteers), Ararat Rural City Council
Nearby attractions: Ararat wind farm
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the preferred swimming beach. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
View Larger Map
Here is a personal account of camping at Green Hill Lake:

"Congratulations on such a great spot. We stayed one night (wished we had time for more) and enjoyed the camp. An example of what can be done when great minds work together. We will be back and yes, we will donate again. Thanks again." - Trevor Grant, Queensland, Australia 15/11/2017

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