Western Beach in Geelong is a stretch of water that runs between Rippleside Beach and Cunningham Pier. You can walk along the edge of the water on man made paths or high above the steep cliff edge near the water’s edge. The walk along this beach has been upgraded including a section that takes you out over the water.
Western Beach is not a destination for swimming (although you can). It is more for taking in the tranquil views of Corio Bay, watching the boats or enjoying a walk along the beach. The houses along the top of the cliffs are some of the most sought after in Geelong for their close proximity to the city and great views over Corio Bay.
As you walk along Western Beach, enjoy the Bollards depicting the character of Geelong from the past. As you get closer to the city you will pass the Western Beach Boat Club and can view several vessels upon the bay.
Western Beach is not a spectacular location to spend a day but well worth a walk either on its shore or above the cliff just to enjoy its panoramic view of the bay. Better still grab some fish and chips and seat yourself under a shady tree high above the water and just drift away.
When I was young Rippleside was a very popular beach for swimming and fishing. It was close to both North and West Geelong as well as Corio and Norlane. Rippleside is a small flat beach with a small jetty extending into the bay. It slopes slowly and has always been a safe swimming destination for Geelong.
I learned to swim at Rippleside Beach. Every Saturday morning parents would drop kids off at the beach and send us into the water under the eagle eyes of the instructors. I remember learning to do a torpedo which is face down in the water with arms outstretched in front while kicking frantically for propulsion. As long as you could hold your breath you knew you could swim. I still don’t remember learning anything but that technique. I do remember always having a thong floating close by to defend yourself from the red jellyfish that appeared in great numbers. I know of no-one who ever got stung, but better be safe than sorry.
If you liked fishing the Rippleside pier was a good place to throw in a line and was good for catching whiting. My brother and I found that the best bait to use was the bait that everyone else was using. No matter which bait we used the fish always seemed to prefer something different. One day out of desperation when no-one was around I stripped off naked, dove in and grabbed some muscles. The port authority turned up saying there was a complaint about nude bathing. Seriously they would have needed a telescope to see me from above the hill. Anyway they let me off and once again I left empty handed.
Although I grew up on the other side of Geelong, Eastern Beach was the best beach destination on Corio Bay. It had the large swimming pool, diving boards, floating platform and a very good kiosk. Better still it had a shark proof enclosure, lots of park land and was close to the city. I often rode my bike for a swim here.
The truth about the shark proof enclosure was that it wasn’t. As kids we used to take it in turns to dive down and swim under the rusted out barrier into the open bay nearly every time we visited. Still it made people feel safer to think a shark couldn’t get in. In the middle of the large pool was a platform with 4 slides going down into the water in each direction. They were steel, dry and got very hot so you tried to get on them as quick as you could while still wet.
It was in the deep end of the pool I had my first encounter with a person who was drowning. She and her brother had ridden to the pool with me and we were swimming fine until she realised she couldn’t touch the bottom. She panicked and started to sink. Heroically I swam over to help her. She grabbed me, pushed me under her to stay afloat, and I was in danger of drowning. I couldn’t break her grip so I sank to the bottom and she let go. I swam to the edge of the pool and insisted an older boy rescue her. He did and he was the hero.
Eastern Beach was an exciting place for a kid to visit and still has a lot to offer. If you are visiting Geelong or the Great Ocean Road do not miss out on the opportunity to enjoy it.