River and lake safety
There are lots of fantastic places to explore in our national parks, including campgrounds that are on or near a river, lake or lagoon. The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. Please take note of these safety tips.
Read more about River and lake safety
Plan your trip
- Check if there are any park alerts or closures before you go.
- Check the weather forecast
- Ask someone who is familiar with the area.
Give your trip details to family and friends who are not travelling with you. Tell them when you expect to return and let them know when you have returned. For longer trips or remote areas, consider filling in a trip intention form and taking a personal locator beacon.
Check the water conditions
- Beware of fast flowing water, submerged objects and deep water.
- Watch water levels in rivers and dams as they can rise suddenly due to water releases from reservoirs and after heavy rainfall.
- During droughts, check for submerged hazards that may now be exposed and beware of poor water quality.
- Beware of slippery banks or paths especially near waterfalls.
- Check the water depth before going in. Never dive in head first, never jump into the water from heights.
- Always enter the water slowly.
- Never swim alone. Make sure that someone else is there to provide or get help.
- Be aware of currents and undertows.
- If you get into trouble in the water, stay calm. Signal for help, then float on your back feet first with the current. Don’t panic.
- If someone needs help in the water, stay dry and reach out to them with a stick or throw a rope.
- Inland waters can be very cold—be aware of hypothermia even in summer.
- Never rely on pool float toys to keep you safe.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol around water.
What to wear
- A wide brimmed hat
- Sun protective clothing. Remember that ultraviolet radiation (UV) levels can be high even on cloudy days.
- A lifejacket—especially for inexperienced swimmers.
- Protective footwear
- Wear the right protective gear for your activity. For example, wear fins and a leash for bodyboarding, a life jacket for kayaking, a life jacket while rock fishing. Get more advice on water safety gear
What to bring
- Insect repellent
- A beach umbrella or other sun shelter
- Fresh drinking water (2L per person)
- Food and snacks
- First aid kit
- Mobile phone. Download the Emergency+ app
- Remember to take your rubbish with you when you leave.
In some parks, high levels of blue-green algae can occur in lake systems under certain conditions. Please avoid direct contact with blue-green algae in the water and as surface scum. Warning signs will be displayed when algae levels in the lakes are high. Algae can exist in the shallow muddy bays and sediment disturbance in these areas should be avoided.