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Dip Into The 6 Best Swimming Holes in Melbourne

Melbourne’s summers can be hot and humid, so we’re constantly on the search for nice spots to cool down. 

Did you know that Melbourne is home to great swimming holes? These swimming spots offer a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and provide visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a unique swimming experience amidst tranquil natural surroundings. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the best swimming holes in and near Melbourne that are suitable for families, and explore what makes them so special. All of these swimming holes are around an hour from Melbourne and easily doable for a day trip. 

Keep in mind that swimming in rivers and lakes is at your own risk, and it’s always a good idea to take precautions such as checking for signs of water quality and safety before entering the water. Only get in the water where swimming is permitted and never swim alone.

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Find a Swimming Hole Melbourne & Beyond

1. MacKenzie’s Flat, Lerderderg State Park 

The bushland-fringed Lerderderg River is perfect for swimming, splashing, and relaxing on a hot day. 

In particular, Mackenzie’s Flat is a popular picnic area located in Lerderderg State Park that is known for its shallow, clear water. It’s a great swimming place for families looking for an easy day trip thanks to the toilets, tables and barbecue facilities. 

Just fill up your esky and go (but not with your pup sorry, as dogs are not permitted)!

MacKenzies Flat Picnic Area, Lerderderg River Heritage River, Lerderderg State Park

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2. Emerald Lake Wading Pool, Dandenong Ranges

While the Emerald Lake Wading Pool is not a traditional swimming hole, it is a free swimming spot located inside stunning Emerald Lake Park, in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. The pool is surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills, making it an ideal spot to take in nature’s beauty. 

The pool has a varying depth of between 0.5m and 1m so it’s perfect for babies and toddlers. There are also toilets, barbecues, and a cafe and museum at the Lakeside Visitors Centre, as Emerald Lake Park is one of the stops of the iconic Puffing Billy Railway

Emerald Lake Park, Emerald Lake Road, Emerald

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3. Laughing Waters, Eltham

Don’t you just love the name?

Laughing Waters is a series of small rock pools connected by miniature rapids on the Yarra River at Eltham. 

The site is entirely surrounded by native bushland, but it is only 30 minutes from Melbourne CBD.

Note that as access is via a narrow and steep dirt road this location is probably only suitable with older kids. There are also no facilities nearby so everything you carry in you should carry out. 

Laughing Waters Road,  Eltham

Yarra River Warburton blog image

4. Lysterfield Lake, Lysterfield

This man-made lake is nestled in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges and is an unexpected oasis in the middle of the suburban south-east. 

The lake contains two designated swimming areas with sandy beaches, clear water and mild temperatures. While generally the lake is good for beginners, there are some areas marked as no swimming due to steep drop-offs and unknown depths.

Lysterfield Lake offers picnic areas, barbecues, walking paths and bike paths. If you have time I recommend the Acacia Nature Walk that goes through the forest around the lake – see if you can spot some local wildlife! Dogs are not permitted. 

Lysterfield Lake, Grants Rd, Lysterfield

Lysterfield Lake Lysterfield

5. Yarra River, Warburton

If you love the ‘lazy river’ rides at water parks then you’ll love floating down the Yarra River at Warburton. 

If you forget to bring your own lilo or tube then just head to the local hardware store to buy one. Start near Warburton Water World / Warburton Caravan Park and leisurely float a few kilometres to Thomas Avenue in town. 

If you don’t feel like floating all the way then at Thomas Avenue you can access the Yarra River for a dip via some rock steps. 

The waters are usually quite calm, so it’s ideal for those looking for a relaxing paddle. Plus you can enjoy all the other attractions in Warburton such as the Redwood Forest and the cafes and shops in the town. 

Thomas Avenue, Warburton

Yarra River Warburton

6. Pound Bend, Warrandyte State Park

Pound Bend features a large, deep pool located in Warrandyte State Park, along the Yarra River.

The popular swimming spot is perfect for tubing or you can even use the canoe launch to start a river paddle.  The man-made tunnel is dangerous and should be avoided.

Afterwards, chill out at the grassy picnic area on the river flats at Pound Bend Reserve. 

When you’re at the reserve, I recommend following the short interpretive trail to learn about the history, culture and life of the Wurundjeri people. If you want, go for a longer walk along Pound Bend River Walk. The 2.4km, one-hour return journey is a gentle and easy forest walk that follows the Yarra River upstream. Note that dogs are not allowed at Pound Bend Reserve. 

Read on below for critical safety measures to understand before visiting a swimming hole.

Pound Bend Reserve, Warrandyte State Park, Yarra River

swimming hole Warrandyte Pound Bend Tunnel
Warrandyte Pound Bend Tunnel, Image supplied by Parks Victoria

Important Swimming Hole Safety Measures

Know the conditions and read safety signs

  • On days of extreme fire danger rating Parks Victoria closes Pound Bend Reserve, Jumping Creek Reserve, Koornong Reserve and Norman Reserve. On Catastrophic days, Parks Victoria closes the entire Warrandyte State Park. Find more here: https://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/news/warrandyte-state-park-fire-danger-road-closures
  • The river temperature, height and current can affect how safe is it to swim.
  • Conditions can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology, Yarra Watch, Melbourne Water, or CFA websites.
  • The EPA recommends avoiding swimming in the Yarra shortly after a storm or rainfall event.
  • Inexperienced swimmers or those with unregulated floatation devices and equipment may suffer accidental injury or drowning. Please ensure equipment has been tested.
  • We recommend utilising one of the many businesses and community groups that are experienced, insured, and adhering to the Australian Adventure Activity Standards for aquatic activities such as floating, rafting and paddling.

Never swim alone

  • Take someone with you and inform others of your location when visiting the river for aquatic recreation.

Don’t overestimate your ability and underestimate the dangers of the river

  • Lifejackets are recommended, especially for children and any boating activities.

Actively supervise children

  • A lifejacket is not a substitute for active supervision.
  • The current in the Yarra is significant, variable and can also operate below the surface.
  • A lifejacket only provides a level of buoyancy and visibility.

Learn how to save lives

  • Safety and first aid courses can provide a level of reassurance and risk minimisation, especially in emergency situations.

Stay sober

  • The consumption of alcohol or drugs will only increase the risk of injury or accidental drowning.
  • We recommend visitors always remain vigilant and sober.

Take your rubbish with you, and avoid bringing glass

  • Rubbish and glass are not only a nuisance but can also create injury.
  • Please always be mindful of taking rubbish home.
  • Glass should be avoided completely as it can break and injure visitors and local wildlife.

Adhere to parking restrictions

  • Please be mindful to observe parking rules when at Pound Bend to ensure access for emergency vehicles.
  • Emergency vehicles need access from time to time and visitors should make sure that parking does not impede traffic thoroughfare.

Thanks to Manningham Council and the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC), in collaboration with Life Saving Victoria who have collated the above safety messages.

For more information around water safety visit www.vic.gov.au/water-safety.


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About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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