Parker Inlet is a small and stunning cove with a sandy beach that’s the mouth of the Parker River. It’s a short drive from the Great Ocean Road in the Great Otway National Park.
The beach sits between two large hills just to the east of the Cape Otway Lighthouse. The hill on the western side is Parker Hill, there’s a campground and a car park with a track down to Parker Inlet. The track down to the Parker Inlet beach is part of the Great Ocean Walk, which is a long hiking trail from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles.
With the Eucalyptus covered hills, a freshwater creek from the forest and the calm, golden sandy beach, Parker Inlet is a great place to call into for a picnic or a day hike. If you followed the Great Ocean Walk to the east, with-in one-and-a-half hours or two, you’d arrive at Blanket Bay, walking about the same amount of time but to the west, you’d go past Crayfish Bay and end up at the Cape Otway Lighthouse.
Swimming & Surfing at Parker Inlet
Parker Inlet Beach is about 50 metres across and the small bay gets to about 200 metres deep. Strong and confident swimmers would normally be pretty safe swimming here, but just where the Parker River enters the Southern Ocean, there’s a strong rip current that can be dangerous.
It can be a decent place for a surf. Some small but strong waves regularly roll into the bay. At times, it’s gets pretty hectic and some really large waves barrel into the cove. It’s best to go here with someone that knows the spot as the rocks on either side of the bay and the strong rip can make it a bit unsafe.
If you’re a beginner or mid-level surfer, you’re probably best off heading back to Apollo Bay. Experienced surfers looking for some big waves stretched along a 3-4km wide beach, consider heading the other direction (west) to Johanna Beach.
Getting to Parker Inlet from the Great Ocean Road
Parker Inlet can be found along a dirt road that you get to from the road heading to the Cape Otway Lighthouse from the Great Ocean Road.
If you’re heading along the Great Ocean Road from the east, the turn off to Cape Otway is about 30 minutes from Apollo Bay, you’ll see a large sign about 5-10 minutes after Maites Rest. Coming from west (12 Apostles), the Cape Otway turn off is around 30 minutes past Lavers Hill.
Once you’ve turned off the Great Ocean Road, drive through the main part of Cape Otway where some accommodation is (don’t worry if you don’t see this settlement as it’s just a few different BNB’s, really only one can be seen from the road, but there are several signs for these places). About 10 minutes down this road, you’ll see a whole heap of dead Eucalyptus trees and the road will have a sharp bend to the right with a gravel/dirt road going to the left, at the end of the bend.
At the start of this gravel track, there’s a green timber sign with four locations on it, the top one being “Blanket Bay 6.2 KM” and the third location is for Parker Hill. Follow this road until you see another sign for Parker Hill and the track/”Parker Hill Track” going to the right. Take this track and follow the signs until you reach the Parker Hill Campground. From here, it’s just a 100-200 metre walk down the hill to get to the Parker Inlet beach.
Camping at Parker Inlet
Just where you parked the car before walking down the hill to the beach at Parker Inlet, you would have been at Parker Hill Campground.
Parker Hill Campground has 20 individual campsites. 10 of the campsites are drive-in, where you can park right at your site, the rest of them require you walking your gear over to the site from the car park (only 10 metres or so) and they are mainly used by hikers that are trekking along the Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay to the Apostles.
On the road that you entered from, before turning down Parker Hill Track, if you stayed on the other gravel track, another five minutes or so further is Blanket Bay Campground.
Both Blanket Bay and Parker Hill require a booking via the Parks Vic website.
If you’d like to stay a free campsite that can’t be booked, consider Aire Crossing Campground.