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.
St Helens Beach is a popular swimming and fishing spot in Geelong. The beach is the furthest from the city heading back in the direction of Melbourne. The beach is at the base of steep, grassy banks that rise up to the houses above. There is a large park area that extends across the banks giving plenty of spaces for sprawling out with a picnic or sitting under the shady trees.
St Helens Beach has been popular with swimmers for decades. It is close proximity to Corio, North Geelong, Drumcondra and Norlane. There is a sandy beach for paddling or starting your swim at the shallow end or you can walk out the pier and pick what depth you want to start your swim. If you are into fishing you can throw a line out from the rocks that sweep along the bank away from the beach or launch your boat from the ramp.
Occasional concerts are held in the park with the most popular being on Australia Day. It is a very enjoyable place to sit and enjoy the festivities but don’t each to much as the walk back up the hill is very steep. Better still park in the carpark at the bottom and you can roll down afterwards. The beach has public toilets and a playground but no kiosk so take a drink and something to eat with you.