Better than the beach: Australia's ten most spectacular swimming holes

 Australia is rightly famous for its beaches but just as spectacular are our swimming holes and rockpools – many of which are a carefully guarded secret by locals. What could be finer than a dip in water as clear as gin or in natural rock pools that fizz like Champagne? Here are 10 of Australia's best swimming spots.


Champagne Pools, Fraser Island

Many visitors to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fraser Island are familiar with the striking Lake McKenzie - the island's most visited and photographed attraction. Lesser known are the magical Champagne Pools on the island's eastern beach. Acting as a natural day spa, the waves crash over the volcanic rock and the water bubbles and fizzes like Champagne. You can reach Fraser island via a 40-minute boat ride off Hervey Bay, three hours north of Brisbane. The Champagne Pools are located approximately 2.5hrs drive north up 75 Mile Beach from Eurong Beach Resort. See

Cardwell Spa Pool, Cardwell

Locals have been cooling off in this magical and previously little-known geological wonder for years until a social media post went viral. The secret may be out but nonetheless noone can really explain why the water is such a magical shade of blue other than the special chemistry of the rocks and water. Located in the coastal town of Cardwell in Tropical North Queensland, the best time to visit is the wet season but check ahead for current water levels. See


Maguk, Barramundi Gorge, Kakadu National Park

It's a bit of a trek to reach the Maguk waterfall and pools, found an hour's drive from Cooinda in the south of Kakadu National Park. First up is a 14-kilometre four-wheel drive from the Kakadu Highway followed by a one kilometre trek where you'll work up a sweat under the Northern Territory sun. Your efforts will be rewarded however with a dip in a beautiful natural plunge pool at the base of steep gorge walls, surrounded by monsoonal forest. A short hike to the top of the waterfall reveals incredible vistas and yet more magical small pools. See

Bitter Springs, Mataranka

Set among palms and tropical woodlands, these naturally occurring spring-fed thermal pools are reminiscent of a tropical oasis and a wonderful place to unwind after a day's exploration. You'll find this local favourite two kilometres from Mataranka, Katherine in Elsey National Park. See


Apsley River Waterhole, Douglas-Apsley National Park

A popular swimming spot for locals, the picturesque Apsley River waterhole is located on Tassie's east coast a short distance inland from Bicheno. Reached via a short walk along a dirt trail the tranquil pool is typically bracing yet nonetheless you'll exit feeling like you've been washed clean. See


Blue Pool, East Gippsland

This natural pool in the gorge on Freestone Creek will keep you cool on the hottest of days. While away an afternoon on the lakeside beach made of rocks and swim in the mystical deep lake located outside Briagolong in East Gippsland. See


Dalhousie Springs, Witjira National Park

Bathe in an enormous natural spring-fed billabong on the edge of the Simpson Desert. Dalhousie Springs is a group of more than 60 natural artesian springs located in Witjira National Park. The water temperature in the highly mineralised springs ranges from 38 to 43 degrees Celsius and steam often rises off the water which bubbles up from deep underground. Once used by Aboriginal people as a source of food, shelter and medicine, the springs are home to unique species of fish and rare aquatic life. See


Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks, Denmark

These twin swimming spots are slotted into the same curve of beautiful coastline just outside Denmark in William Bay National Park. Start at the wide, flat expanse of Greens Pool – its shallow-bottomed, clear calm waters make it a local favourite for a social set of laps – before dusting the sand off and following the five-minute walk to Elephant Rocks. So named for the enormous boulders dotting its water (said to look like a herd of elephants trudging through the water) this intimate inlet enjoys the same stunning waters and white sands as its popular counterpart in a sheltered cove. Be sure and pack your snorkel. See



Boat Harbour, Port Stephens

This gorgeous spot has been a local, carefully guarded secret for years – in fact many locals don't even know it exists. Dubbed the 'Champagne Spa' for its natural fizzy bubbles, you'll find it down a rocky slope off the whale watching trail. Be warned though: the rockpool is not suitable for small children and best avoided when the surf is rough. See

Gleniffer, Bellingen

Bellingen is home to several striking water holes but the one found just over the Never Never Creek not far from the historic Glennifer Hall is particularly magical. Surrounded by lush farmland, you can easily lose yourself here for an afternoon shaded by soaring, moss covered trees. The water is so clear you can count the rocks that lie on the river bed and watch tiny fish nip at your toes. Bracingly cold, even at the height of summer, warm up afterwards by lying on the riverbank listening to the sound of the gurgling river flowing by. See

See also: Ten Australian popular holiday spots with unexpected attractions

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