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Wild Swimming

menu_book picture_as_pdf bookEva Gomiscek Bushwalk Inspiration Resource Australia

People that love water will be in search of great places to cool off this time of year. Swimming is usually associated with the sea and sandy beaches. But why not try Australia’s hidden gems - swimming holes? We’re talking about lakes, rivers, waterfalls and even secluded beaches. The idea of sliding into a cool, refreshing water after or during a hot summer walk comes to mind.

Wild Swimming

Text Eva Gomiscek

44 | Bushwalk April 2023

Make it a fun experienceIn August 2016 edition of Bushwalk magazine we had an article in our magazine about wild swimming written by Rachel Lewis. She explained to us how to make wild swimming an enjoyable experience. She reminded us to enjoy a swim while on a hike, to take along a buddy and/or a curious child, to enjoy the nature and take care of it. Rachel also said to take the time and enjoy a picnic by the water, take a photo and maybe even a nap. If this got you intrigued then read this article and learn more.

Some other points

Know your swimming ability, use floaties and start slow.

Swim with other people, preferably experienced.

Check forecast and recent rainfall. Never swim in flood water or recently flooded areas.

Check the depth, logs, branches and rocks before jumping. Check again.

Take your time. Take food, water and time to chill and enjoy.

Beware of cold water it numbs the body very quickly.

Benefits of wild swimming

So now let’s also talk about a few benefits we gain from swimming in the wild.

Improving your circulation - when your body heats up from walking it rushes the blood to the surface. And when dipping into the cool water, it sends it back to internal organs, refreshing your circulation in the process.

Improving your stress response - studies show that dipping into cold water helps your body to overcome anxieties more easily.

Increase of dopamine - studies also show that dipping into cold water increase dopamine levels in your body around five-fold.

Swimming is a full body workout.

Swimming improves your sleep.

What to be mindful of

While having fun in the water, we have to be mindful of the fact that we’re in nature, a fragile ecosystem that we interrupt by being there. To make this as non-intrusive as possible, check Rachel's tips on how to swim sustainably and visit her Wild Swimming Australia website.

Winter swimmingThere’s a difference between going swimming in the summer and in the winter. For winter swims we have some extra tips:

Think about investing in neoprene wetsuit, gloves and boots.

Start slow. Cold water can be a real shock to the body, so start preparing it with daily cold showers. Take it slow when entering the cool water.

Slow breathing. The human body's reaction to cold water is very often rapid breathing. Try to slow it down with different breathing techniques - research Wim Hof.

Slowly in, quickly out. A few minutes will do your body tons of good, you don’t need to stay in there for hours.

Quickly warm up. Remove cold wet clothes straight away and warm up with insulating layers and a hot drink.

Talk to your doctor first if you’re pregnant, have high blood pressure, any kind of heart condition or lung condition (eg. asthma).

Four per stateWe researched and found some of the special ones in every state to get you started. Wherever possible we also found a walk that is tied to that pool. Are you feeling inspired already?

What next?Hopefully, you will get inspired and will be looking for your wild swimming adventure soon. Do we mention your favourite spot? If not, send us pictures of your favourite swimming pool and we can include it in the next years' article.


Empress Falls, Blue Mountains National ParkTo swim in one the best pools of Blue Mountains you’ll need to descend along a steepish track along Conservation Hut to Empress Falls Track. On the way you can catch a glimpse of the falls if stopping at Empress Lookout. After your swim you can extend your walk to another set of falls a little further along the track - Edith and Lodore falls.

1.2 km return, 30-60 mins

Sydney 100 km

3. Yarrangobilly Thermal PoolTake the direct return Thermal Pool Walk or a 2.8 km circuit Yarrangobilly Caves River Walk to reach this lovely spot. The water is great to swim year round as it comes from a natural spring and has about 27 ºC. There’s a picnic area next to the pool, as well as change rooms and toilets.

1.4 km return, 45 mins

Canberra 230 km

2. Mahon Rock Pool, Jack Vanny Reserve, MaroubraThis gem is located north of Malabar Headland NP and Maroubra Beach. There are toilets, showers and changing rooms near the parking area, on the way to the pool. To reach it you need to take the steep steps downhill with views over the wide rocky pool.

400 m return, 30 mins

Sydney 15 km

4. Rainbow Lake, Kosciuszko National ParkYou can reach this spot by taking the return Rainbow Lake Trail. A slight path leads around the lake if you want to explore it further. There’s plenty of space for a picnic and to relax in this pristine area on a lovely sunny day. Between May and the end of October, this walk is likely to be covered in snow.

2.6 km return, 1-2 h

Canberra 200 km

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Florence Falls Swimming hole, Litchfleld National ParkStarting from Florence Falls carpark and picnic area it will take you 160 steps along the last part of Florence Creek Walk to reach the pool. Alternatively you can do the whole 5 kilometre return walk, starting from the neighbour Buley Rockhole and follow Florence Creek for about 1-2 hours.

400 m return, 30 minsDarwin 145 km

3. Mataranka hot pools, Bitter Springs, Elsey National ParkLocated only a short walk away from the end of Bitter Springs Road, these natural thermal pools await you with very warm water all year. You can also take the kilometre long Bitter Springs Circuit walk around the pools.

400 m return, 15 minsDarwin 430 km

2. Maguk Waterfall, Barramundi Gorge, Kakadu National ParkTo reach this secluded pool you’ll need to walk for about a kilometre along Maguk Pool and Waterfall. There, surrounded by tall rock cliffs, is the pool with a great view over the falls.

2.7 km return, 1 hDarwin 345 km

4. Ellery Creek Big Hole, Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National ParkA five minute walk will get your from Ellery Creek carpark and campsite to this scenic waterhole to freshen up after you’ve possibly done about an hour long 2.6 km return Dolomite Walk or the longer, 26 kilometre Ellery Big Hole Circuit that can be done in 7 hours to 2 days.

700 m return, 30 mins

Alice Springs 90 km


Crystal Cascades, CairnsIt’ll take you about an hour of walking along the Crystal Cascades Track to reach this freshwater gem. So pack a picnic and explore this beautiful area to then freshen up in the swimming holes by the falls.

2.3 km return, 1 h

Cairns 20 km

3. Wheel of Fire Cascades, Eungella National ParkStarting from Finch Hatton Picnic Area it’ll take you about 1.5 hours of walking along Wheel of Fire Cascades to reach the cascades. There are several climbs and steps along the way, well worth the effort.

3.8 km return, 1.5 h

Townsville 395 km

2. Zoe Falls, Hinchinbrook Island National Park, Hinchinbrook IslandWhen bushwalking the Thorsborne Trail these stunning waterfalls will be definitely one of the stops you make. Simply immerse yourself in the freshwater pool at the top of the falls and enjoy the stunning views.

28.7 km one way, 2-5 days

Townsville 160 km

4. Serenity Falls and swimming hole, Buderim Forest ParkFrom Quorn Close car park and picnic area with toilets, take the short Buderim (Serenity) Falls Circuit walk downhill along the boardwalk and later on some rocky areas to reach the scenic falls and have a dip in the swimming hole.

700 m circuit, 30 mins

Brisbane 100 km

48 | Bushwalk April 2023

Dalhousie Springs, Witjira National ParkThese are a group of more than 60 artesian springs, making them one of the biggest spots in this article. Dalhousie Springs are next to a campsite and have a 2.1 kilometre Dalhousie Springs circuit walk leading around them. So take the walk before jumping into the 40 ºC water (year round).

400 m return, 15 mins

Coober Pedy 350 km

3. Beachport Salt Lake aka Pool of SiloamThis large salt water pool is located at the intersection of McCourt Street and Scenic Drive in Beachport. It is seven times saltier as the sea, so floating is made easy. There’s a parking and picnic area with toilets and showers just next to the pool.

Parking area by the lake

Adelaide 380 km

2. Greenly Beach rock pools, Eyre PeninsulaLocated at the end of Greenly Beach Road, this lovely rockpool lies at the northern end of the white sandy beach. There’s free camping nearby so this is a perfect spot for a dip in sunrise or sunset.

150 m return, 7 mins

Adelaide 690 km

4. The Little Blue LakeLocated next to the parking area along Mount Sal Road near Mount Gambier, this natural sinkhole is 40 metres wide and 36 metres deep. There are steps and a pontoon to reach it. Take the 3.6 kilometre Blue Lake Circuit before freshening up in the cool water.

Parking area by the lake

Adelaide 450 km

Dalhousie Springs pool Tasndrew22, CC BY-SA 4.0


Kimberley Warm Springs, Kimberley Warm Springs ReserveShhh, don't tell too many people as these springs are not well known, but they are the only ones in north-west Tassie. They are very easy to reach. It only takes 200 metres of flat walking from the free car park. And to top it all there's a picnic area and toilets too. Enjoy the mineral reach water with constant 25 ºC temperature.

200 m return, 10 mins

Launceston 70 km

3. Wombat Pool, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National ParkAt the start of Overland Track, the Overland, Wombat Pool and Lake Lilla Tracks Circuit walk takes you through pristine Tassie nature with plenty of stunning views on the way.

6.5 km circuit, 1.5-2.5 h

Launceston 160 km

Apsley River Waterhole, Douglas-Apsley National ParkThe Apsley Waterhole Loop Track and 5.5 kilometre return Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge walks start from Rosedale Road parking area and take you past the serene waterhole all the way to the gorge. You can stop at the pools on the way there or back (or both) and relax in the sounds of the river gently trickling into the pools.

1 km circuit, 30 mins

Launceston 190 km

4. Hartnett Falls, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National ParkLocated a short way from the 78.3 kilometre Overland Track, these falls are a great spot for swimming, with a view over the falls.

2 km return, 45 mins

Launceston 150 km

Spa Pool in Hamersley Gorge Albertchetcuti, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

50 | Bushwalk April 2023

1. Dalmanyi (Bell) Gorge Pool, KimberleyThe Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge) Walk takes two kilometres from the car park area to reach the cascading waterfalls. The pools are a bit further away along a bit more challenging track.

2.4 km return, 1 h

Broome 460 km

3. Spa Pool, Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National ParkHamersley Gorge Walk is a very difficult walk to get to this gem, but the reward is stunning. This freshwater pool is surrounded by colourful rock walls.

400 m return, 10 mins

Karratha 280 km

2. Python Pool, Millstream Chichester National ParkAfter you’ve parked just off Roebourne-Wittenoom Road it’ll take you a short Python Pool walk to reach this deep swimming pool. A picnic area and toilets are nearby. If you have time you can take the longer 15 kilometre return Camel Trail.

400 m return, 10 minsKarratha 120 km

4. Elephant Rocks, William Bay National Park, DenmarkStarting from the parking area at the end of Elephant Road, take the short Elephant Cove Track walk to reach this lovely white sandy beach. The rocks look like large elephants.

760 m return, 15 mins

Perth 430 km

Spa Pool in Hamersley Gorge Albertchetcuti, CC BY-SA 4.0


Venus Baths, Grampians National ParkTo reach this lovely spot take the Venus Baths Circuit beside Stony Creek. It's a lovely flat walk, suitable for the whole family so pack some snacks because you'll definitely spend time there.

1.7 km circuit, 45 mins

Horsham 75 km

3. Blue Pool, Briagolong State ForestThis lovely spot on Freestone Creek is a perfect to freshen up after a walk in summer. You can opt for the shorter Freestone Walking Track or for the longer 3 kilometre Fern Gully Track circuit before stopping at the gorge for a swim. There's a picnic area with toilets near by so you can stay for the day.

1.1 km circuit, 30 mins

Melbourne 250 km

2. Pound Bend, Warrandyte State Park The Yarra River nearly surrounds the 3.3 kilometre Pound Bend Loop which takes you to the Pound Bend area to freshen up after the walk.

3.3 km circuit, 1-1.5 h

Melbourne 30 km

4. Fairy Cove, Wilsons Promontory National ParkThis lovely area can be reached by taking a side trip on 7.9 km return Tongue Point Track. Why not hike the track and then freshen up at the cove. There's a pretty steep start to the walk but the views from the lookout are worth it.

7.9 km return, 3-4 h

Melbourne 215 km

The Pound Bend Tunnel was dug by miners, diverting the river, Tim Sabo, CC BY-SA 4.0

52 | Bushwalk April 2023

Casuarina Sands ReserveLocated on the banks of Murrumbidgee River, this recreation area has picnic spots with BBQs and toilets. Not really wild, but still a lovely swimming spot. And a starting (or ending point) to the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track.

27 km one way, 8.5-13 h

Canberra 25 km

3. Tharwa Sandwash, Gigerline Nature ReserveThis spot on Murrumbidgee River has a picnic area. Take the short Tharwa Sandwash walk from the parking area to the river and enjoy the day in the sun.

1.8 km return, 45 mins

Canberra 35 km

2. Gibraltar Falls, Namadgi National ParkTake the Woods Reserve to Gibraltar Falls walk to this beaufitul falls. At their top there are a number of pools, the best one of all is the infinity one with stunning views over Canberra.

2.3 km return, 1-1.5 h

Canberra 45 km

4. Angle Crossing, Gigerline Nature ReserveThis spot is the furthest point of Murrumbidgee River in ACT, where the Angle Crossing Road traverses the river. Take the Angle Crossing River Track before taking a dip in the river.

800 m circuit, 40 mins

Canberra 40 km

Gibraltar Falls, Elliott McFarlane, CC BY-SA 4.0

Casuarina Sands, Canberra, Brian Ireland, CC BY-SA 2.0

Tharwa Sandwash on Murrumbidgee River, Parks ACT Website

Angle Crossing on Murrumbidgee River, Conquimbo, CC BY-SA 3.0