Adventure

9 Queensland Swimming Holes That Locals Love

When we think of warm weather, our compasses swing firmly towards the north. In the coming months especially, the giant state of Queensland is the Australian summer dream – all warm days, bare feet, rosé in the sunshine and and the magnetic pull of the ocean.

But for those days when you’ve had your fill of the coast, we recommend a journey inland to splash about in one of the other stars of summer. Queensland’s natural bounty extends beyond its beaches, in rainforests, green rolling hills and national parks, you’ll find a range of carved-by-nature freshwater swimming holes to cool off in.

From the steamy far north forests to the southern sub-tropics bushland, we’ve rounded up nine of the best locally loved spots. Dive in.

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Coomba Falls

Beside a steep granite cliff in the southern Queensland town of Maidenwell, you’ll find Coomba Falls; a deep, natural plunge pool beside a large patch of grass that’s practically insisting you join it for a picnic. The water is icy year round, even when the outside temperature soars, making it the ideal respite from those scorching summer days.

There’s even a swing rope attached to a tree if you want to recall the carefree days of your youth. Coomba Falls is about a three hour drive from Brisbane, so it’s just within reach for a day trip. Follow the Coomba Falls Road to the car park, then it’s just a short walk down some stairs.

Image: Queensland.com

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Mossman Gorge

The swimming holes in Mossman Gorge, found deep in the Daintree National Park, are positively pristine, and we bet they’ll look even more inviting on a typically humid day in the tropics. One of the most popular swimming spots is the natural pool where the Mossman River cascades over large granite boulders, leading to a calm and deep pond that’s perfect for a dip. Go early and try to avoid weekends if you want to truly feel the tranquility of the forest. Mossman Gorge is easily accessible, just a 20 minute drive from Port Douglas.

Image: Brian Gratwicke / Flickr

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Booloumba Falls

At the end of an hour-long hike through a tall eucalyptus forest and beside a boulder-strewn creek in the Conondale National Park, you’ll come to Booloumba Falls: a refreshing natural pool that’s well worth the moderately easy walk in. I mean, you get to swim at the base of a waterfall. What more could you want from this world?

Keep an eye out for the rock formation known as The Breadknife, where the Peters and Booloumba creeks meet, and if you want to spend the night, you can also set up at one of the campsites by the river where you can take as many dips as you please. The Conondale National Park is an hour-and-a-half inland from the Sunshine Coast.

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

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Babinda Boulders

While the beach in Cairns is notoriously dangerous due to crocs and stingers, those needing to get their body into a cool body of water would be wise to head to Babinda Boulders, 56 kilometres south of town. The area is named for the huge granite rocks that sit in the clear stream that weaves its way around them, and the surrounds are like something out of Neverland – all green ferns, mossy rocks and hanging vines.

The water is cool, the rocks are smooth underfoot and the vibe is chill, even when it’s heavily visited. You can make a night out of it at one of the nearby campgrounds.

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

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Josephine Falls

When Mother Nature made the tiered cascades known as Josephine Falls, she was kind enough to include a natural water slide, and for this we are very thankful. The smooth rocks of the waterfall make it the perfect surface on which to slip gracefully into the waterhole below, as once evidenced in a Qantas safety video. The best part? It’s just a one hour drive south of Cairns, so go on, get out of town.

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland/Colyn Huber Lovegreen Photography

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Eli Creek

On Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island off the coast of Hervey Bay, Eli Creek pours up to four million litres of freshwater into the ocean each hour. This means the swimming work is done for you; all you need to do a bring a tube and float. Drift downstream on your back, with the surrounding bush reaching high above you as your peer into the blue summer sky.

Image: Visit Fraser Coast

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Cedar Creek Falls

As if the Whitsundays weren’t already hogging enough of the country’s jaw-dropping natural spectacles, they had to go and add Cedar Creek Falls to the list. This spot is just a half-hour drive from Airlie Beach, so you can tick it off on a half-day trip. Expect to share the turquoise water with fish, turtles, lizards and – yep – some other humans. The natural rock swimming hole is at its most dazzling during the wet season, when the falls are flowing freely and the surrounding vegetation is as its greenest. While you can hike to the top of the falls for a different perspective, there really is no such thing as a bad view at Cedar Creek Falls. Really, some places have all the luck.

Image: Brooke Miles / Tourism and Events Queensland

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Rocky Hole

You better call that one mate you know with a 4WD. Cut into the contours of Mount Mee in the D’Aguilar National Park, this swimming spot known as Rocky Hole might be tough to get to, but after a blissful day of bush swimming, we guarantee it’ll be even harder to leave.

Rocky Hole has a small waterfall you can dunk your head under, but the true star of this pool is the timber swing dangling on the far side, only accessible by swimming across. Expect many “where is this?” comments on the resulting Instagram post. You’ll find this slice of paradise an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Brisbane.

Image: Visit Moreton Bay Region

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Lake Eacham

Imagine the bluest of blues. No, bluer. Bluer still. Keep going. There you go. That’s the colour of Lake Eacham, an extinct volcanic crater fed by freshwater from underground springs that, when pooled, gives off a vibrant aquamarine hue. The lake is in the wet tropics, surrounded by dense rainforest in the Crater Lakes National Park, around an hour and 15 minutes inland and south from Cairns. Its clear water is cool year-round, and you can make your swim that much more rewarding by working up a sweat on the 45-minute long circuit walk around the lake before diving in. Bliss.

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

(Lead image: Visit Moreton Bay Region)