Best freshwater swimming spots in Victoria

Swimming at creswick Visit Victoria

RACV Staff

Posted December 27, 2021


If you're looking to cool off without the pesky sand and seagulls, check out our guide to the best freshwater swimming holes in Victoria.

While Australia is known for its pristine beaches, they are not for everyone. From the beaming UV rays to sand in your clothes, scarce parking, people and animals running amuck, it can sometimes provide more stress than you've bargained for.

Luckily, Victoria is home to a variety of places to swim that aren't a beach. So if you’re looking to avoid the beach crowds this summer, there are plenty of beautiful places around the state to cool off without getting sand between your toes and in your car, from rainforests to rivers, waterfalls, lakes and freshwater swimming holes galore.


Victoria's best swimming holes

1. Pound Bend Reserve, Warrandyte

Pound Bend Reserve at Warrandyte is a popular freshwater swimming hole in Victoria surrounded by native bushland that is perfect for a relaxing float down the river. 

  • Accessibility: Formed pathways through picnic areas. Some wheelchair access is provided.
  • Swimming proficiency: Intermediate.
  • Facilities: Picnic area, toilets and canoe ramps. Includes an Aboriginal Interpretive Signage Trail to explore the history and culture of the Wurundjeri history and culture linked to the site.
  • Restrictions: No camping. Restricted opening times. Entering the nearby diversion tunnel is dangerous and not advised.
  • Dogs: Not permitted.

2. Lake Catani, Mount Buffalo National Park 

Lake Catani in Mount Buffalo National Park, 37 kilometres west of Bright, is home to clear water and a grand alpine landscape. It’s also a great place to camp and has excellent facilities. If you’re able to get a campsite booking, you can fill your days with a waterfall walk at Ladies Bath Falls, swimming, canoeing or cycling around the lake.

  • Accessibility: Easy.
  • Swimming proficiency: Medium.
  • Water temperature: Cold.
  • Facilities: Camping is available (bookings required), with toilets, hot showers, and tables.

3. Laughing Waters, Eltham

Laughing Waters is a series of rock pools connected by miniature rapids on the Yarra River at Eltham. While the native bushland may give the illusion of isolation, this spot is only 30 minutes from central Melbourne.

  • Accessibility: Access via the narrow and steep dirt road is poor.
  • Swimming proficiency: Intermediate.
  • Facilities: None.
  • Restrictions: Due to narrow, dead-end access road, entry is not advised in times of high fire danger. Beware of potential issues with water contamination.
Pound Bend, Warrandyte. Image: ALAMY.
Laughing Waters is a series of pools along a reach of the Yarra River in Eltham. Image: Getty.
Lake Catani, Mount Buffalo.

4. Blue Pool, Briagolong State Forest

Situated in the Briagolong State Fores approximately two and half hours drive out of Melbourne, Blue Pool is the perfect summer swim spot. The popular freshwater swimming hole sits within a gorge in Freestone Creek and offers both cool, calm waters, as well as all the natural delights the forest has to offer. Head to the Peregrine walking track and try to spot a Peregrine falcon.

  • Accessibility: Parking available. Accessible walking tracks throughout the forest.
  • Swimming proficiency: Easy.
  • Water temperature: Cold.
  • Facilities: Picnic spots, barbecues, shelters, toilets.
  • Dogs: Permitted on a lead.
  • Restrictions: No fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Periods of high visitation and lack of water flow may result in contamination from algal blooms. 

5. Gooram Falls, Gooram

Gooram Falls lie within the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve approximately 20km from Euroa, and is a stunning area to swim and enjoy a picnic while enjoying waterfalls you can swim in and a waterfall walk. 

  • Accessibility: Two-wheel-drive access to car park.
  • Swimming proficiency: High.
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, NNQ facilities fireplaces and toilets are available at the Gooram Falls Day Visitor Area.
  • Dogs: Not permitted.

6. Lake Bellfield, Grampians

Surrounded by the mountains of Grampians National Park, you can take in Lake Bellfield’s chilly waters to escape the summer heat. It’s also a short distance from MacKenzie Falls and Halls Gap, where you can stock up on supplies for a picnic, or stay longer with our list of things to do in the Grampians.

  • Accessibility: Easy.
  • Swimming proficiency: Intermediate.
  • Water temperature: Cold.
  • Facilities: Picnic area and toilets. Camping is available nearby.
  • Restrictions: Powerboats not permitted.

7. Blue Rock Lake, West Gippsland

Blue Rock Lake in West Gippsland, just 20 kilometres north-west of Moe, features two designated swimming areas, including the popular area with a picnic spot west of Willow Grove. The 50-metre-wide swimming area offers a cool reprieve from the sun as you wade gently into the water, while a drive around the area can let you enjoy some of the best produce in the world. 

  • Accessibility: Easy.
  • Swimming proficiency: Beginners.
  • Water temperature: Mild.
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, barbecues, toilets, carpark.
  • Restrictions: Dogs must be on a leash. Camping, fires, fishing, boating and rubbish not allowed. Opening hours and designated swimming areas apply. Blue-green algae outbreaks may occasionally affect access.

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.

Blue Pool, Briagolong. Image: Visit Victoria.
Gooram Falls, Victoria. Image: Visit Victoria.
Lake Bellfield, Grampians. Image: Getty.
Blue Rock Lake, Victoria. Image: Visit Baw Baw.

8. St Georges Lake, Creswick

A popular spot at Creswick in Victoria’s Goldfields region, St Georges Lake is big and allows for good water play, and also boasts lawn areas for those looking to relax between swims. The shallow area is great for paddling, but be aware that it drops off steeply. Holidaymakers can make a stay of it at the RACV Goldfields Resort nearby. 

  • Accessibility: Easy.
  • Swimming proficiency: Beginners to experienced.
  • Facilities: Free gas barbecue, toilets.
  • Restrictions: No camping or powered boats
  • Dogs: Permitted on lead.

9. Lysterfield Lake, Lysterfield

A manufactured lake in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, Lysterfield Lake is perfect for water-based recreation. The lake contains two designated swimming areas with clear water and milder temperatures. If time permits, enjoy the Acacia Nature Walk through the forest around the lake while spotting some local wildlife.

  • Accessibility: Visitors with limited mobility can enjoy Lysterfield Park, which has ramped access and accessible toilets. Some shores are inaccessible by foot.
  • Swimming proficiency: Beginner.
  • Facilities: Picnic area (including barbecues), parking and bike paths.
  • Restrictions: Opening times and designated swimming areas apply. Some areas marked as no swimming due to steep drop-offs and unknown depths.
  • Dogs: Not permitted.

10. Vaughan Springs, Vaughan 

Twenty minutes from Castlemaine you’ll reach the cool, mineral creek waters of Vaughan Springs. This waterhole includes grassy picnic areas, slide, and camping facilities for those who want to bask in the tranquil spring a little longer.

  • Accessibility: Good.
  • Swimming proficiency: Beginner.
  • Water temperature: Cool.
  • Facilities: Camping is available at the Upper Terrace Campground. Toilets and electric barbecues are available for cooking.
  • Restrictions: Fires aren’t permitted.
  • Dogs: Not permitted.

11. Lerderderg River, Baccus Marsh

Pop a picnic basket and your bathers in the car and head to Lerderderg River in the Mackenzies Flat picnic area at the end of Lerderderg Gorge Road. Here you’ll find perfect surrounds for a balmy day, with a lawn area and shallow water to splash around in.

  • Accessibility: Good.
  • Swimming proficiency: Intermediate.
  • Facilities: Picnic area, toilet facilities.
  • Restrictions: Camping and fires aren't permitted.
  • Dogs: Not permitted.

12. Blackwood Pool, Werribee Gorge

South-west of Melbourne, Blackwood Pool in Werribee Gorge provides a refreshing respite to the summer sun - as long as you're prepared to go on the steep hike to the water, that is. A rippling river surrounded by natural bushland, be prepared to spot a platypus or two as you take in the tranquillity of the wilderness around you. 

  • Accessibility: Difficult. Visitors need to walk the 8.5 km Werribee Gorge Circuit Track to reach the water. 
  • Swimming proficiency: Experienced. 
  • Facilities: None at the pool, but there are toilets, picnic tables and fire pits at the picnic areas in the state park. 
  • Restrictions: Camping, trail bikes and fires aren't permitted.
  • Dogs: Not permitted.
St George's Lake, Creswick. Image: Visit Victoria.
Lysterfield Lake. Image: Getty.
Vaughan Springs, Victoria. Image: ALAMY.
Lederderg River, Bacchus Marsh. Image: Getty.
Werribee Gorge. Image: Getty.

Safety first

Before heading off remember to:

  • Familiarise yourself with bushwalking safety
  • Keep an eye on current incidents and fire bans and ratings
  • Stay away from fire affected areas and check prevailing conditions, including current fire or flood warnings.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • And when you’re there, always follow the signage, check water depths and temperature before plunging in, and never take your eye off children near water.
  • Just be mindful that unlike popular beaches, these spots aren’t patrolled, so if you’re planning on swimming, always observe signage and take note of prevailing conditions. 
  • Also be aware that water levels can vary depending on rainfall and seasonal conditions

This article sources information, with permission, from the Guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria, as published online at Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria.