Port Philip Bay beaches farthest from the Melbourne population centres performed the best over summer, according to Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) 2020–21 summer Beach Report and Yarra Watch service. 

The service gives Bay and Yarra users twice daily information about the forecast water quality at 36 bay beaches and four popular swimming sites along the Yarra from December to Labour Day each summer.

Ranked by the number of “good”, “fair” and “poor” forecasts, the top performer was Eastern Beach in Geelong with 80 forecast good water quality days, followed by St Leonards on the Bellarine Peninsula with 78, Portsea and Rosebud with 76 and Sorrento, all on the Mornington Peninsula, with 75 good days.

“Heavy rain after dry weather can carry a large amount of pollution in stormwater drains into waterways, including the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay,” said EPA Water Specialist Leon Metzeling.

“Skin rashes and even gastro can occur when people are exposed to high bacterial levels. When the forecast is for poor water quality, EPA advises against swimming and we issue a warning through our online and social media services, or via the free SMS alert. There were 175,000 personalised water quality alerts issued directly to subscriber mobile phones this season. 

“The service has become extremely popular and will return for summer 2021–22.” 

Factors that affect water quality include proximity to storm water drains, river and creek outflows and activity like dredging.

Bay beach ranking summer 2020–21

Beach Ranking 2020–21 Ranking 2019–20 Ranking 2018–19
Eastern 1 6 2
St Leonards 2 13 14
Portsea 3 1 5
Rosebud Life Saving Club 3 4 5
Sorrento 5 13 15
Santa Casa 5 4 1
Safety Beach 7 2 10
Mt Martha Life Saving Club 7 2 10
Black Rock Life Saving Club 9 9 5
Hampton 9 6 5
Sandringham 11 9 5
Half Moon Bay 12 6 10
Williamstown 13 22 18
The Dell 14 13 2
Blairgowrie 15 13 17
Carrum Surf Life Saving Club 16 25 10
Aspendale Life Saving Club 16 22 18
Dromana 18 13 16
Rye 19 13 18
Canadian Bay 19 19 18
Beaumaris 21 24 28
Brighton Life Saving Club 21 9 36
Seaford 23 36 30
Mornington Life Saving Club 24 20 26
Altona 25 12 18
Frankson Coast Guard 26 28 26
South Melbourne Life Saving Club 26 32 31
Frankston Surf Life Saving Club 28 28 23
Elwood 28 30 31
Sandridge 28 32 34
Mordialloc 31 30 23
Mentone 31 26 23
St Kilda 33 32 35
Port Melbourne 34 32 31
Portarlington 34 20 4
Werribee South 36 26 26

Reviewed 22 March 2021