The Most Unusual Swimming Holes to Try Around Melbourne
Don't stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.
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. This year, instead of heading to your local, 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.
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, visitors can find solace in the gentle waves, hit the surf further out 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 snorkelling bit, come by at low tide when the beach reveals a large rock platform that acts as a good jumping off point. For an interesting history lesson, check out the chunk of an old ship, dubbed the Speke Shipwreck, on the shore.
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. Grab a few mates, a tent and get ready to hit the beach. Spread across hundreds of kilometres in Gippsland, the Croajingolong National Park is beautifully wild. Think eucalypt forests leading to long, white sandy beaches. It's truly a secluded paradise and offers crystal clear waters ideal for snorkelling. Get ready to Instagram like crazy, or fully disconnect and make sandcastles on the beach instead.
Note: Parts of Croajingolong National Park are currently closed due to bushfire damage. For the most updated information and alerts, head to the Parks Victoria website.
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. Three hours east of the CBD, Blue Pool in Briagolong is worth any distance of travel, and it's a great stop during a coastal road trip or weekend getaway. Here, the water is clear as glass and tends to stay relatively warm all year round. Once you're happily submerged within the waters of the oval-shaped pool, take a moment to adore the beautiful surrounds. You may just see a kangaroo dashing by or a colourful parrot flying overhead. There is also a camping spot near the pool if you feel like staying and cracking open the marshmallows.
TURPINS FALLS, KYNETON
Waterfall meets billabong bliss at Kyneton's Turpins Falls. Located in the brisk area of the Macedon Ranges, a chilly but refreshing plunge into this watering hole will require some bravery. The pool itself is larger than an Olympic swimming pool, so there's plenty of space to spread out. Enclosed by high rock walls (not for jumping off, mind you), it's a beautiful spot to enjoy a picnic or a sneaky drink along the rocks. You can also treat yourself to a high-pressure natural shower under the waterfall. It can be a bit hard to find, so be sure to bring Google Maps along.
HALF MOON BAY, BLACK ROCK
Throw down your towel and get ready to frolic along this lunar-shaped beach and its luxurious sandy shores. Half Moon Bay is more for floating and bobbing than for surfing or getting dumped by waves. And that's a huge appeal when all you want is a leisurely day by the beach. For the rest of you, take a jaunt around the surrounding cliffs, where gorgeous coastal views await you. Once you're finished, head back to the beach where you can sink your toes in the sand and cool off with a dip. Then grab some fresh fish at one of Black Rock Wharf's seafood restaurants.
POUND BEND, WARRANDYTE
The former prospecting country at Pound Bend offers sediment-rich river banks and is now the perfect spot for lazy Sunday tube-floating and water shenanigans. The main attraction is the ugly-looking 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 aching bones. There is also an excellent canoe/tube launching pad to help you get your float on. If you want to take in all the sites, take a short hike on the leisurely Pound Bend Walking Track. On the way, you'll learn more about local Aboriginal tribes and the location's history.
POLLY MCQUINNS, STRATHBOGIE
According to legend, Polly McQuinns was a baby-faced settler who could not grow a beard and drowned in the waters after one too many sherries. Despite the gnarly history, this deep swimming hole in Ned Kelly country (located on the Seven Creeks) offers a welcome respite from the heat. With man-made waterfalls, rapids and a purpose-build diving board for plunging and belly-flops, it's a day-trip for those looking for 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. So keep your wits about you and don't go the way of Polly while you're here.
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 at Wilsons Prom is well-worth heading off the beaten track. To find this white sandy beach and heavenly pool, park at Darby Saddle and have a hard, sweaty slog through steep terrain. 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.
LAUGHING WATERS, ELTHAM
Located just a 40 minute drive from the Melbourne CBD, the suburb of Eltham is home to a stunning section of the Yarra River that's perfect for lilo-drifting — that's when you lie on an inflatable and let the gentle current move you along the deep river banks. Hidden by rambling native bushland, Laughing Waters also offers small rapids and rock pools that are well worth exploring – just watch out for the yabbies. A note that there are no facilities at Laughing Waters (including loos), so make sure you bring everything you need: food, water and that faithful shovel.
Published on January 19, 2021 by Shannon McKeogh