Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gunnamatta tops beach danger list

So we decided to head to the other side of the bay area today towards Mornington peninsula with a few mates and ended up at Gunnamatta beach. The sun was shining, I was excited about surfing, and it was going to be a wonderful day. The beach looked beautiful and initially, the waves seemed smooth and controlled - perfect conditions.

Once I got in the water however, the clouds rolled in, the waves got bigger, and the sea looked angry. No matter, I got this. While I was surfing (attempting to) a nice bloke mentioned something to me about watching for the rip which was somewhere near me. I have no idea what that means but it is a cool conversation to be having on a surf board in Australia so I just try to swim into shore and all is well.

Fast forward to my next foray out for a surf. One minute I'm swimming out towards the good waves, the next minute I'm all alone and seem pretty far from shore. It's deep and this is shark territory. I start paddling hard to get back to the shore and after a few minutes I realize I'm actually further out to sea and this must be what a rip is. I panic, naturally, wave my arms, and in return, Aubree smiles and waves hello. She couldn't hear me screaming bloody murder for help because I was so far out. By now I'm well past the waves out to sea and losing it.That's probably the worst thing you could do. I also want to get rid of my board and try to swim to shore because it's slowing me down - that is the next worst thing you can do. I begin to think of sharks and the fact that I'm probably going to die. Keep in mind I'm way out to sea now, completely out of control, and there's no life guards or help in sight. Sharks can sense fear and panic from great distances and I was giving out a healthy dose of both.

Finally I look up and someone on the shore (can't make out who from this distance) is waving me to swim parallel to the shore. I think it's a lost cause and my arms are shot, but I take the advice. After what seems like the longest quarter mile of my life, I reach another surfer (salvation) and he points the best route into shore. I just have to make it through the enormous waves on my way back to the shore. The big wave crests behind me, lifts me up, and carries me forward. I hold on to my board for dear life and ride it in fast - it was actually pretty fun. I finally made it in to shore and enjoyed the rest of the day at the beach soaking up the rays.

Did a little research tonight - Gunnamatta has emerged as Victoria’s worst beach with record numbers of swimmers getting into trouble.It's full of treacherous rips and the power of the water is incredible. This is a very hazardous beach, with an average of 113 rescues per year.

So the moral of the story is that if you ever want to try your luck at dying, come to Gunnmatta and hopefully you'll live to tell the tale!

Note - we didn't have any pics of the beach so I googled and found these representative photos.


  1. We are glad you survived to share your story! Rip currents are pretty common in Lake Michigan, but we don't have to worry about sharks looking for an afternoon snack :)

  2. Holy cow Holland has some serious rip currents! 28 rescues on wednesday is crazy.

  3. That comment was Zack from Aubree's computer btw

  4. I have four words to say: Get some life insurance!!!