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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Ten Idyllic Swimming Holes to Head to for a Dip Around Melbourne

Don't stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.
By Shannon McKeogh
November 10, 2021
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By Shannon McKeogh
November 10, 2021
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With the weather heating up, there's nothing better than stripping down to your togs, baring your skin to the glaring summer rays and cannon-balling into a swimming hole.

And, this is surely the year to shake things up a little — instead of heading to your local spot, opt for a more unusual swimming hole that's farther afield.

Not sure where to start? Luckily, we've done the research for you, so grab your inflatables and get ready to practice the art of floating, sans crowds. Here are our picks of the most unusual swimming spots around Melbourne – be they waterfall, beach haven or billabong.

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KITTY MILLER BAY, PHILLIP ISLAND

The salty waters at this 500-metre-long, horseshoe-shaped beach provide good luck and good times to all who enter. Located on Phillip Island, it's a sweet coastal setting where visitors can find solace in the gentle waves, venture further out to hit the surf or have a snorkel among the rocky reefs — with sponge, starfish and other aquatic creatures happily going about their day. If you're especially keen on the latter, come by at low tide when the beach reveals a large rock platform that acts as a good jumping-off point. And in between dips, you can load up on some history with a mosey around the famed rusted wreckage of the SS Speke, which ran aground in 1906 and is also accessible at low tide.

Find it: Around two hour's drive from Melbourne.

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R.Reeve via Flickr

LODDON FALLS, GLENLYON

A quick drive beyond Daylesford and a short descent along a bushwalking trail in Glenlyon lies your new wild swimming spot of choice. Here, Loddon River drops to the gorge below in a cascading waterfall, creating an idyllic swimming hole that feels blissfully far removed from the city. Take it all in as you float, from the gentle rush of the falls to the scrub clinging to the high basalt columns around the sheltered gorge. Formed by volcanic eruptions around 2.5 million years ago, Loddon Falls is now a tranquil bush reserve that's perfect for relaxing and spotting native fauna — wallabies, kangaroos and echidnas are all known to make appearances.

Find it: Around a 90-minute drive from Melbourne.

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Visit Victoria

CROAJINGOLONG, GIPPSLAND

They say that good things come to those who wait. And while six hours may seem like a long time, it's well worth the road trip for the swimming spot of your dreams. So grab a few mates, organise a tent and get ready to hit the beach. Spread across hundreds of kilometres in Gippsland, the Croajingolong National Park is beautifully wild and rugged, with eucalypt forests leading to long, white sandy beaches and scores of sheltered inlets primed for swimming. Plus, this truly secluded paradise offers crystal clear waters that are ideal for snorkelling and has plenty of coastal campsites to choose from. Get ready to Instagram like crazy.

Note: Parts of Croajingolong National Park are currently still closed due to bushfire damage. For the most updated information and alerts, head to the Parks Victoria website.

Find it: Around six hour's drive from Melbourne.

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Josie Withers for Visit Victoria

LADIES BATH FALLS, MOUNT BUFFALO

Every bit as tranquil as it sounds, Ladies Bath Falls is a picture-perfect swimming spot tucked away within Mount Buffalo National Park. In the early 20th century, it was a popular pit-stop along the climb up Mount Buffalo, with separate natural pools reserved for the women and the men. These days, its pure mountain waters and lush surrounds are enjoyed by all, with the brisk temperatures proving a real treat on sweaty summer days. You'll find plenty of picturesque spots nearby to drop your blanket for a post-dip picnic, as well as walking trails weaving through the surrounding bush.

Find it: Around three and a half hour's drive from Melbourne.

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Visit Victoria

BLUE POOL, EAST GIPPSLAND

If you've been hankering for something a little special, it might be time to make the pilgrimage to Briagolong State Forest. Two and a half hours east of the CBD, Blue Pool (just outside of Briagolong) is worth any distance of travel, promising a great stop during a coastal road trip or weekend getaway. Here, in a natural oval-shaped pool in the Freestone Creek gorge, the water is clear as glass and tends to stay relatively warm all year round. Once you're happily submerged, take a moment to admire the beautiful, tranquil surrounds. You may just see a kangaroo dashing by or some colourful parrots flying overhead. If you feel like staying and cracking open the marshmallows, there's a popular camping spot nearby, as well as plenty more to be found throughout Briagolong State Forest.

Find it: Around two and a half hour's drive from Melbourne.
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Ian Cochrane via Flickr

HALF MOON BAY, BLACK ROCK

Throw down your towel and get ready to frolic amongst this lunar-shaped beach and its sandy shores, which are less of a secret than some others on this list, but gorgeous all the same. Half Moon Bay is more for floating and bobbing than for surfing or getting dumped by waves, so it's a winner when all you want is a leisurely day on the beach. For the rest of you, take a jaunt around the surrounding cliffs, where primo coastal views await you. Once you're finished, venture back down to sink your toes in the sand and cool off with a dip. Oh, and while you're there, be sure to enjoy a fishy feed from one of the seafood restaurants by Black Rock Wharf.

Find it: Around a 30-minute drive from Melbourne.
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Nick Carson via Wikimedia Commons

POUND BEND, WARRANDYTE

The former prospecting region at Pound Bend boasts sediment-rich river banks and is now the perfect spot for lazy Sunday tubing and other water-based shenanigans. The main attraction is the historic tunnel, which was hacked in 1870 by miners. Although no riches were ever found, it's now a delightful natural whirlpool and is pure gold for massaging muscle aches. There's also an excellent launching pad for canoes and tubes, for anyone who fancies getting their float on. And if you want to take in all the sites, a short hike along the leisurely Pound Bend River Walk will get you up to speed on the location's rich history and its importance to the local Indigenous tribes.

Find it: Around a 45-minute drive from Melbourne.
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Strathbogie City Council

POLLY MCQUINNS, STRATHBOGIE

According to legend, Polly McQuinn was a baby-faced settler who could not grow a beard and drowned in these waters after one too many sherries. But despite the gnarly history, this deep swimming hole in Ned Kelly country (located on the Seven Creeks) offers a welcome respite from the heat and makes for a scenic spot for a splash. With man-made waterfalls, rapids, and a purpose-built diving board for plunging and belly-flops, it's an ideal day-trip for those after something a little different and with a bit of character. The water travels over the concrete weir wall, under a road bridge and over large exposed granite boulders before settling into a deep-water pool. Just keep your wits about you and don't go the way of Polly while you're here.

Find it: Around two hour's drive from Melbourne.
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Madeleine Deaton via Flickr

FAIRY COVE, WILSONS PROM

Sadly no fairies (that we know of) reside in the stunning blue waters here, but the magical seclusion away from the crowds of Wilsons Prom's busier sites is well worth heading off the beaten track for. To find Fairy Cove's white sandy beach and heavenly pool, park at Darby Saddle and take a sweaty hike through the steep terrain of Tongue Point Walk — you'll be well rewarded by the isolated beach, cooling waters and blissful serenity that awaits you. If time is on your side, you can make the full nine-kilometre trek from Darby River, which passes through Fairy Cove and finishes at the breathtaking Tongue Point lookout.

Find it: Around three hour's drive from Melbourne.
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LAUGHING WATERS, ELTHAM

Located less than an hour from the Melbourne CBD, the suburb of Eltham is home to a stunning section of the Yarra River that's perfect for lilo-drifting — when you perch yourself on an inflatable and let the gentle current carry you along the deep river banks. Hidden amongst rambling native bushland, the popular Laughing Waters Swimming Hole also boasts small rapids and rock pools that are well worth exploring – just watch out for the yabbies. Bring your picnic lunch and blanket, but also be prepared to take your rubbish with you as there aren't any of the usual park amenities. But hey, that's a small price to pay for splendid, idyllic isolation, we reckon.

Find it: Around a 45-minute drive from Melbourne.

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Top Image: Fairy Cove, by Mark Watson for Visit Victoria

Published on November 10, 2021 by Shannon McKeogh

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  • Reader comments...

    Rani - January 23, 2016

    It seems you haven't had the pleasure of visiting either Gooram Falls (near euroa, past Seymour); nor Walkerville bay (past Inverloch and Venus Bay). Surely they would beat most on this list! (?)

    Jo - January 16, 2016

    Much like any of the river places conditions can vary, there is little water in Lerderderg Gorge at the moment

    kingers - January 15, 2016

    I made a list of Yarra spots here http://kingerzexperience.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/swimming-in-yarra-river.html

    James - January 11, 2016

    Half moon bay is a great spot but I believe the cerberus is off limits to the public because it is unsafe to dive/swim around. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/body-found-in-cerberus-wreck-20100519-vfjd.html

    Neil - December 22, 2015

    Great list! I wouldn't be keen to swim at Blue Lake though. Last time I was there, admittedly a couple of years back now, it was full of car parts and shopping trolleys. Neil

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