Any local knows Queensland only really plays host to two seasons: Sweltering Storm Eternity and (briefly) the .3-degree cooler Sticky Spring. When the novelty of pristine sandy beaches wears off (and South Bank’s infamous man-made beach has its chlorine smell dialled up to 11), trek inland to dip in rainforest swimming holes and mysterious rock pools. Turns out it is cool to chase waterfalls. Here are the best swimming holes near Brisbane.
#1 Enoggera Reservoir, Walkabout Creek
You don’t even have to leave the big smoke for this one. Brisbane suburb The Gap is so-called for its secret wonders, no doubt, for here you’ll find D’Aguilar National Park’s Walkabout Creek. Visit the attached Wildlife Centre to prove to yourself that platypuses exist, then make like a monotreme and swim under the shade of gum trees at the dam-fine Enoggera Reservoir.[related_articles]39963,37067,36076[/related_articles]
Heritage-listed, this swimming spot once served as Brisbane’s first water storage dam in 1866. This is the perfect spot to bring that giant inflatable pretzel you got for Christmas. Hop on the 385 bus line from the CBD to visit this inner-city oasis.
#2 Bunya Swimming Hole, Bunya
Cool off in the clean, crisp waters of this parkland swimming hole at the Bunya Crossing Reserve. Set along the South Pine River, this is a great spot for a full day’s recreation: bring your kayak or canoe for a gentle paddle, throw some lunch on one of the gas barbecues on site, and even include your furrier family members.
Dogs (on leash) are welcome to play or swim at the Reserve. Wander up- or downstream to spot fish, turtles and waterbirds. The Reserve, a half hour drive from the Brisbane CBD, is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to enjoy.
#3 Gardner’s Falls, Maleny
Remember that scene in Fern Gully where the rainforest fairy and the beefcakey surfer dude take a flirty dip in twinkling secluded rock pools? You can recreate the splashy romance of that scene at Gardner’s Falls at Maleny, a fresh-to-death series of freshwater rock pools. Thrill-seekers can check the depth of the water (levels vary), then go full-Tarzan on the rope swings at the Falls’ largest pool.
The rest of us can kick off our shoes and explore nature’s gentler wading pools. The deeper you trek into the bush along the Obi Obi River, the more likely it is you’ll have a whole pool to yourself, but do pack your mozzie repellent. Relax by one of Brisbane’s best swimming holes.
#4 The Gorge, Lake Moogerah
Located an hour or so south of Brisbane, Lake Moogerah Caravan Park is the perfect hideaway for a quiet camping weekend. Water-babies will be spoiled for choice: splash between a pair of smaller swimming holes or the lake itself. Just be sure to stick to the designated swimming area, which is unsupervised, but off-limits to boats.
#5 Cedar Creek Falls, Gold Coast Hinterland
From Mt Tamborine’s Cedar Creek Road, a half-hour canyon stroll will take you to the Gold Coast’s best swimming hole, at the base of Cedar Creek Falls. Visit in the rainy season, when cascading waterfalls make for a rollicking dip in an icy-cold jet spa. Arrive early for a good car park, pack a picnic and make a day of it in this natural playground, but listen to your inner Mum and take care on slippery, uneven rocks.[related_articles]58836,28828[/related_articles]
(Just don’t accidentally drive the 13 hours to Proserpine, where there’s a second Cedar Creek Falls swimming hole, because apparently colonial place-namers had no imagination.)
#6 Kondalilla Falls, Montville
There might be twin Cedar Creek Falls, but there’s only one place with a name that actually sounds like a waterfall in action: Kondalilla literally means “Place of Rushing Waters”. Here, on the Blackall Range, Skene Creek nosedives 90 metres from eucalypt forest into subtropical rainforest. Don your hiking boots for the climb up to a refreshing rock pool and picnic area with its own smaller falls.
If you need an bonus-round challenge, see if you can count all 32 species of frog that make their home here in Kondalilla National Park. The Blackall Range is just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane, but don’t rush: the scenic route is worth it.
#7 Springbrook Twin Falls, Springbrook National Park
Forget multi-level shopping malls; set in walkable national parkland, Springbrook Twin Falls boasts multi-level swimming holes. Three tiers of cascading rock pools are your reward for an easy-going four kilometre stroll along Twin Falls Circuit, past ancient strangler figs and piccabeen palms. Definitely one of Brisbane’s best swimming holes (or at least of those in proximity).[related_articles]62975,61249[/related_articles]
Explore caves behind the falls’ flow and immerse yourself in the cacophony of rushing water – from behind the scenes. If you’re up for a longer bushwalk with a big payoff, head to nearby crystal-clear Warringa Pool. A winding drive off the Pacific Motorway will get you there from Brisbane in no time.
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(Lead image: Gardner’s Falls by Scarlett North-Cavanaugh)