Keep cool in the waterfalls and freshwater rock pools around Brisbane.
By Jac Taylor
Visitors to the sunshine state of Queensland generally know to bring their swimming gear. From the reefs and beaches to the islands and resort pools, there are plenty of opportunities to take a cool dip. But even within reach of Brisbane city, you'll find swimming holes amid native bush and subtropical rainforest. They offer a peaceful and quintessentially Australian experience.
Brisbane's first water reservoir is now a much loved swimming spot. Enoggera Dam is a 15-minute drive west of the city centre, in a bush setting that belies its suburban location. A short trail through the trees from the car park opens out to the wide, sparkling waters of this heritage listed local playground. There are grassy slopes for picnicking, a fascinating wildlife centre nearby and a five-kilometre (three-mile) nature walking track surrounding the lake-like waters. Locals love to bring every kind of non-motorised water toy, from inflatables to canoes.
There are plenty of rock pools in the breathtaking Sunshine Coast hinterland, just over an hour north of Brisbane, but Gardners Falls may be the best. A short, easy walk from the car park on Obi Lane South leads to a pristine waterhole surrounded by rocky ledges just made for sunning yourself, while the waterfall lends a constant, soothing soundtrack. More daring visitors can try out the rope swings in the main swimming area, while younger ones can splash about in the smaller rock pools in the area. In one rock pool there are eels that love to give toes a cheeky nibble.
Ever dreamed of swimming beneath a waterfall? The renowned wilderness area of Mount Tamborine, an hour south of Brisbane, is an ideal place to reconnect with nature, so it makes sense that Cedar Creek Falls is a popular swimming spot. Take in the views of the falls and the swimming hole from the lookout near the car park, then descend the 86 steps to enjoy dipping your feet in the cascades, play in rock pools and swim in the deeper waters below the waterfall.
A bona fide natural wonder awaits in the form of the Springbrook Twin Falls, just over an hour south of the city. Not only are there multi-level pools for swimming in sun or shade, but the easy four-kilometre (2.5-mile) walking circuit leads to spectacular scenery above, below and around the falls. When you have finished swimming, explore rock caves or wait until after dark to see glow worms in the Natural Bridge formation. Please note there is no swimming around Natural Bridge to protect the glow worms’ habitat.
In the tourist hotspot of the Gold Coast, about an hour south of Brisbane, the seaside village of Currumbin draws crowds to its famed wildlife sanctuary and quintessential sun-and-sand scenery. However, its freshwater swimming holes are no less beautiful, and the Currumbin Rock Pools are a regular destination for families. There are grassy picnic spots, lots of shallow rock pools for the little ones and a main pool that has a party atmosphere on weekends. Cougal Cascades, at the end of the road, provide a quieter spot.