UPDATE, 5.30pm: AN American tourist has saved the lives of two girls after they were caught in a savage rip at Sherbrook River beach, near Loch Ard Gorge, on Sunday afternoon.
Port Campbell police Sergeant David Banks said a Melbourne man and woman in their mid-40s, their three daughters, aged between nine and 16 years, and a 16-year-old friend, were at the beach just west of Loch Ard Gorge in the Port Campbell National Park.
He said three of the girls got caught in a rip and were dragged out to sea at 3.10pm.
The nine-year-old girl initially got into trouble when she was caught in a rip.
The 16-year-old daughter and the 16-year-old friend went into the water to assist her and were also dragged out about 100 metres off the beach.
The father went into the ocean to assist his youngest daughter and he also got into trouble.
The father and the youngest daughter assisted each other to stay afloat and they eventually made it back to the beach.
"They were highly emotional, kissing each other on the beach," Sergeant Banks said.
"The father said if his daughter wasn't there he would have given up and gone under.
"He collapsed on the beach from exhaustion, but did not lose consciousness."
The senior police officer said a Californian tourist intervened to save the other two girls.
"A passing tourist, Travis Wheeland from California, saw what was going on and grabbed a boogie board which was on the beach belonging to the family," Sergeant Banks said.
"He's gone out and saved the two older girls and brought them back in."
Sergeant Banks said the Melbourne family wanted to remain anonymous.
"They expressed their extreme gratitude, they were very thankful, beyond words to all those who came to their assistance," he said.
"Other tourists watching from the rocks called emergency services and on the way to the beach police contacted the 12 Apostles Helicopters so we had eyes in the sky."
Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club volunteers, who were training in the Port Campbell bay, responded and the Timboon ambulance and Port Campbell volunteer ambulance also attended.
Sergeant Banks said the tourist saved the lives of two girls.
"We're all very grateful for the tourist who appears to have prevented two drownings," he said.
"Travis said he just went out and saved them and then soon after left the scene of the rescue.
"He risked his life to save the two girls. It was an extremely dangerous situation."
Sergeant Banks said there were warning signs at the beach.
"It's a timely warning for everyone to take notice of warning signs at beach locations," he said.
"There are signs at Sherbrook River beach warning that it is a dangerous swimming beach."
Earlier: AN American tourist has saved two girls caught in a rip at Sherbrook River Beach near Loch Ard Gorge.