Definitions of waterways

The table and maps on this page detail the three categories of waterway in Victoria.

Both the rules relating to speed and distance from shore change and the types of safety equipment you must carry and/or wear depend on the type of waterway you are operating on. 

The specific operating rules for each Victorian waterway are set out in the Vessel Operating and Zoning Rules (VOZR). 

Term Meaning
Inland waters Rivers (inside the seaward entrance), creeks, canals, lakes, reservoirs and any similar waters either naturally formed or man-made and which are either publicly or privately owned but does not include any navigable rivers, creeks or streams within declared port waters.
Enclosed waters
  1. The declared port waters inside the seaward entrance of the following local ports:
    1. the Port of Apollo Bay
    2. the Port of Anderson Inlet
    3. the Port of Gippsland Lakes
    4. the Port of Snowy River
    5. the Port of Mallacoota
    6. the Port of Port Fairy
  2. The declared port waters of the Port of Barwon Heads upstream of the Barwon Heads–Ocean Grove road bridge
  3. The declared port waters of the Port of Corner Inlet and Port Albert east of a line between Port Welshpool shipping pier and Bentley Point (inside the entrances)
  4. The waters of Shallow Inlet
  5. The declared port waters inside the entrance of the Port of Portland
  6. The declared port waters of the Port of Port Phillip
  7. The waters of Western Port landward of its western entrance joined by a straight line drawn between West Head to the southern tip of Seal Rocks to Point Grant and landward of its eastern entrance joined by an imaginary line drawn between Cape Woolamai and Griffith Point as shown on the chart AuS 150 Australia - South Coast – Victoria - Western Port, published by the Australian Hydrographic Service from time to time
  8. The waters between the seaward entrance of Tamboon inlet and the northerly boundary of a straight line drawn between Flanders Track and the creek on the eastern side of the inlet
  9. The waters between the seaward entrance of Wingan Inlet and the northerly boundary of a straight line drawn between Rocky Creek and the bank directly opposite to the west
  10. The waters between the seaward entrance of Sydenham Inlet and the mouth of the Bemm River.
Coastal waters All waters other than inland waters or enclosed waters, and extending 3 nautical miles seaward.
Hazardous Area(a) Port Phillip Heads, or
(b) Any area of State waters declared by the Safety Director.

The following waterways are recognised as Victorian waters for the purposes of transport safety legislation:

  • The waters of Ovens River south of the Murray Valley Highway Bridge
  • The waters of Lake Hume downstream of the Bethanga Bridge
  • The waters contained within the Victorian border of the lower Glenelg River.

Those waters of the Murray River, Lake Mulwala and Lake Hume not listed above are within New South Wales jurisdiction. Operators are advised that NSW legislation applies on these waters. Contact NSW Roads & Maritime Services on (02) 9563 8557 or visit the Maritime NSW website.

Map of Anderson Inlet as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Lakes Entrance as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Snowy River as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Mallacoota as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Port of Port Fairy as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Barwon Heads as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Corner Inlet and Port Albert as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Shallow Inlet as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Port of Portland as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Port Phillip and Western Port as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Sydenham Inlet and Tamboon as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website

Map of Wingan Inlet as described in the Vessel Operation and Zoning Rules available to download from this website