Cliff Risk

Rocks falling off a cliff, a danger to safety along the Great Ocean Road.


The Great Ocean Road coastline is famous for its spectacular cliffs, offshore stacks (such as the Twelve Apostles) and reefs providing perfect surf and homes to our diverse marine life. Erosion has shaped these natural features, and with large swells, relatively soft rocks and weather extremes, our coastline is highly erosion prone. 

While cliffs and rock coastlines provide many natural benefits, they pose a safety risk to users on beaches and clifftop areas.

Cliff collapses, also known as cliff failures, occur when the internal strength of the formation is reduced beyond a threshold where it can no longer support its weight. 

This can occur when the cliff is exposed to: 

  • Erosion caused by the ocean 
  • Changes in cliff moisture content
  • Extremes of heat and cold 
  • Large rainfall events and erosive runoff  
  • Seismic activity

However, cliff failures are unpredictable and can occur without warning, posing a significant risk to clifftop and beach users. Cliff failures occur at a range of scales, depending on the cliff structure and the trigger for collapse. Cliff failures may range from a localised rock topple to a large-scale rotational landslide. 

Cliff Hazard Management 

We undertake regular geotechnical assessments of the cliffs within our management area to better understand coastal cliff dynamics and associated hazards enabling us to make effective management decisions. This knowledge informs risk mitigation actions both before and after cliff collapse.  

We undertake the following management actions for public safety:  

  • Installation of cliff warning signage 
  • Ongoing monitoring including regular site visits, aerial imagery analysis and drone surveys to improve our understanding of cliff dynamics 
  • Installation and maintenance of fencing on clifftops to keep users away from the cliff edge 
  • Relocation of assets such as walking tracks inland away from the cliff edge as erosion encroaches landward
  • Working with local communities, event organisers and partner agencies to raise awareness of cliff hazards and safety 
  • In cases of extreme risk closing unsafe areas 

Reminder: The beach at Demons Bluff (also known as Grinders) to the north of Anglesea Family Caravan Park is permanently closed due to the risk of cliff falls.

For your safety please:

  • Stay away from cliffs and caves 
  • Stick to established tracks 
  • See the signs and follow guidance 
  • Share the word and warn others

Cliff Risk Stakeholder Kit - Thumbnail(PDF, 6MB)

Education Resources 

We have developed several awareness raising and educational resources to increase local/visitor awareness of cliff hazards, risks and safety to reduce the likelihood of a cliff failure resulting in a death(s) or serious injury. 

These resources include: