Aireys Inlet is a small coastal inlet and town located on the Great Ocean Road, southwest of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Aireys Inlet is located between Anglesea and Lorne, and joined with Fairhaven to the west.
Many surfers holiday in Aireys Inlet to take advantage of the popular Fairhaven beach. As the inclination of the beach can change dramatically between years, the surf is regarded as unpredictable. Swimmers should take note there is a strong rip current.
Painkalac Creek, which separates Aireys Inlet from Fairhaven, forms a salt lake or inlet behind the sand dunes before it cuts through to the ocean. Due to low water levels in the inlet it is not often that the inlet breaks through.
There is also a horseshoe-shaped reef at Step Beach which forms an excellent swimming hole at low tide. The towns main attraction, the Split Point Lighthouse overlooks the inlet. The lighthouse has made Aireys Inlet an icon along the Great Ocean Road.
In the early 19th century, before European settlement, the escaped convict William Buckley lived here in a primitive hut eating fish, shellfish, wild raspberries and sugar ants. Aireys Inlet was known to the Aboriginals of the time as Managwhawz. The town takes its current name from John Moore Cole Airey, who settled in the area in 1842.
The Post Office opened on 1 April 1893.
At the 2016 census, Aireys Inlet had a population of 802. 83.4% of people were born in Australia and 88.3% of people only spoke English at home. The most common responses for religion were No Religion 53.9% and Catholic 16.1%. 
Literature and media
During the early 1950s the Australian crime author Arthur Upfield lived at Aireys Inlet. His novel The New Shoe (1951) is based on the township and the lighthouse. Some of the novel’s characters drew on local identities.
Beaches and coastline
While the coastline at adjacent is a long uninterrupted sand beach, the coast at Aireys Inlet is a series of rock shelves, interrupted by sandy swimming beaches, most of which are relatively secluded. Each beach has its own character, a result of differing lengths, orientation and nearby rock formations. Beaches include Sandy Gully, Steppy Beach and Sunnymeade.
At low tide it is possible to walk (or scramble) around all these rocks and beaches, making it possible to walk along the beach, all the way from Eastern View – the historical start of the Great Ocean Road, all the way to Anglesea.
1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires
Aireys Inlet was devastated by the infamous 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires in which a large number of houses were burnt down. However, after a brief lull, interest in the area resumed and has been steadily climbing since. Properties, especially those with an ocean view, are becoming increasingly sought after, some going for greater than A$1 million.
Heritage listed sites
Aireys Inlet has a number of heritage listed sites, including:
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Aireys Inlet (SSC)”. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Kennedy, B: Australian Place Names, page 2. ABC Books, 2006
- Premier Postal History. “Post Office List”. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- “Great Ocean Road (H2261)”. Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- “Split Point Lightstation Complex (H2270)”. Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Morgan, John (1980) . The Life and Adventures of William Buckley: Thirty-two Years a Wanderer amongst the Aborigines of the Unexplored Country round Port Phillip. Canberra: Australian National University Press. ISBN 0-7081-1595-0.
Media related to Aireys Inlet, Victoria at Wikimedia Commons
- Split Point Lighthouse History at WebCite (archived 2007-06-28) (Archived 2009-10-24)
- Australian Places – Aireys Inlet
- REIV Aireys Inlet Market Insights, Auction & Private Sale Results
- Town Accommodation: