The Best Rivers for Swimming In Near Brisbane
Skip the surf and overcrowded sands of Queensland's beaches in favour of floating upstream.
The Brisbane River may give our city that romantic feel, but its muddy waters are pretty off-putting for swimming purposes. There's a growing call to clean up the waterway, but with those plans still in the pipeline — and the warm weather fast approaching— we don't have time to wait. So we've scoped out some rivers near Brisbane where you can take a dip in clean, healthy waters. Whether you want to hang out underneath a tumbling waterfall or picnic among tranquil rock pools, there's a cool, watery escape for you here.
CEDAR CREEK, TAMBORINE NATIONAL PARK
Found just 45 minutes' drive northwest of Brisbane, Cedar Creek is probably the best known spot on the list. This pretty, cheerful river starts high up in Mount Glorious, before gradually winding its way to Moreton Bay. The loveliest spot for a dip is Cedar Creek Falls, located in Tamborine National Park. Park your car at the end of Cedar Creek Falls Road, then rock-hop for around 20 minutes to get there. You'll discover deep, clear, freshwater pools encircled with large boulders and shady trees. Don't forget to pack a picnic: you'll want to kick back and relax for a while.
BUNYA CROSSING RESERVE, THE HILLS DISTRICT
When you're short on time, make tracks to Bunya Crossing Reserve swimming hole, which you'll find on a bend in the South Pine River, just 25 minutes' from the CBD. Yep, it's more or less in the suburbs. There are a bunch of spots of various depths, letting you completely submerge yourself or stick to paddling in the shallows. Note that you could be sharing the water with ducks, fish and turtles. In the surrounding bushland — part of Bunyaville State Forest Park — walking trails are home to possums, wallabies and bush turkeys. You're welcome to fish and there are gas barbies, too, where you can fire up your catch while it's still super-fresh.
CURRUMBIN CREEK, GOLD COAST HINTERLAND
No doubt your usual motivation for road tripping to the Gold Coast is beaches. But, drive inland from Currumbin Beach for just 15 minutes (about 1.5 hours south of Brisbane) and you'll reach the enchanting rock pools of Currumbin Creek, nestled into Currumbin Valley. Set against steep rock faces and dotted with rope swings and ledges, the Currumbin Rock Pools look like something out of an Enid Blyton adventure novel. Once you've finished up with your swim, head to the nearby Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to enjoy an arvo with native fauna in natural surrounds.
GARDNERS FALLS, MALENY
At some point along the shady, ferny walking trail to Gardners Falls, the real world slips away. This dreamy rock pool feels like it could be a portal to some fairy tale alter-universe. It's hidden in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, just five minutes' drive from Maleny – and 90 minutes' drive north of Brisbane. There's a variety of swimming holes, from shallow spots where you can get your feet wet to an expansive pool beneath a waterfall. Spend your terrestrial time relaxing on rock platforms or go exploring in nearby bushland. Backed by native forest, the location is also ideal for a post-swim picnic under a giant water gum.
LOWER PORTALS, MOUNT BARNEY NATIONAL PARK
To make the most out of this river swim, leave early. It's a 1.5-hour drive southwest of Brisbane, then a 7.4-kilometre loop along a steep and rocky trail. That might sound like an effort, but the cool, lush gully known as Lower Portals is worth it – especially on a steaming hot day in Brisbane. You'll discover a string of crystal-clear rock pools, separated by enormous boulders and rising into subtropical rainforest. Fair warning: the water is usually rather cold, even in the middle of summer. But it's a refreshing dip during the warmer days ahead.
Note: While the Lower Portals section of Mount Barney National Park is currently open to visitors, some sections, include Mount Gillies, are currently closed due to bushfires. Please check here for full details before visiting.
Top image: Cedar Creek Falls by Tourism and Events Queensland
Published on September 11, 2020 by Jasmine Crittenden