Melbourne’s 15 Best Swimming Spots That Aren’t Beaches
The city’s best swimming holes, hotel pools and hot springs.
It’s safe to say that, compared to other major cities, Melbourne isn’t really known for its beaches. There’s St Kilda and Williamstown, but when the temperature starts to soar, you can assume every (wo)man and their dog will be staking their claim on a rapidly disappearing spot on the sand. So, to counteract this, we’ve found a solution (15 of them, in fact). Grab your hat and sunblock — here are some Melbourne swimming spots that are perfect for a dip.
Note: Due to bushfires or heavy rain, some areas of national parks may be closed. Check the National Parks and Wildlife Service alerts page, or the local state authority’s website before you go.
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The Adelphi Rooftop Pool
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that this amazing rooftop pool exists in the heart of Melbourne, because it’s only available for guests of the hotel and those who book for a function. If it was public, there’d be lines all the way to Flinders Street Station. Perhaps next time you’re chatting to your boss about the upcoming Christmas party, or your friends from interstate are coming to visit, gently suggest the Adelphi Hotel. With any hope, you’ll get a chance to sip on a sparkling wine before going for a dip with city views.
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The Langham pool
If you’re keen for a swim without having to dodge toddlers in floaties and waves from teenagers doing bombs nearby, head to the more sophisticated pool at the Langham Hotel. A little more serene and a lot more lush, the three to four month memberships might be just what you deserve to top off your summer.
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Fitzroy Swimming Pool
If you’re a local at the Fitzroy Pool on a hot day, you’re likely to see every man and his dog, from your local butcher to your mum’s acupuncturist. But if you’re into the energetic and social vibe of a public pool teeming with vitamin D deficient Melburnians, jump on the 86 or 11 tram, grab a Calippo, get into a good book and lap up the sun at one of Melbourne’s most popular summer hang out spots.
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Once a spot only known to Eltham locals, this fresh-water swimming hole is a secret no longer. A mere 45 minutes from Melbourne, Laughing Waters is a favourite amongst city-dwellers and their four-legged friends. Set in hilly bushland and complete with sun-baking rocks any reptile would envy, Laughing Waters is at its best and most serene on weekdays.
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St Kilda Baths
The St Kilda Sea Baths have been a famous attraction in Melbourne since they first opened in 1860 (after sea bathing was deemed acceptable). Here, you can do some laps, have a spa, sweat it out in the sauna or brush up on your form with a swimming lesson.
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Tubing in Warburton
If the rainforest climate and plentiful local parrots aren’t enough to draw you to the outer-Melbourne suburb of Warburton, perhaps the possibility of leisurely tubing down the Yarra will entice you. Grab a tube from the local hardware store, jump on at the Warburton Caravan Park and float a few kilometres to Thomas Avenue in town.
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Pound Bend in Warrandyte
Located 28 kilometres north east of Melbourne, Warrandyte State Park boasts some great swimming and walking options for those who don’t want to stray too far from home. The Pound Bend Tunnel was dug back in 1870 to divert the river in order to mine for gold. Nowadays, this section of the Yarra is a summertime favourite for floating, canoeing or picnicking in the shade.
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Peninsula Hot Springs
The Peninsula Hot Springs are a year-round favourite for tourists and locals alike. With over 20 pools, massage packages, and a top-quality restaurant, the natural hot springs are a unique experience in the hills of Rye. There’s no quiet time at the Peninsula Hot Springs, so make sure you book in advance to avoid missing out.
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Jebbs Pool on the Great Ocean Road
As the name implies, most people head to the Great Ocean Road for the ocean, but this fresh water haven isn’t to be missed. Jebbs Pool is a short walk from Cumberland River and looks like Peter Pan’s hideout, surrounded by ferns, populated by birdlife and scattered with rocks perfect for perching on.
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Sorrento Ocean Rock Pools
Most Mornington Peninsula locals will have a memory of searching for sea stars and crabs in the rock pools in Sorrento as a young one. Even as an adult, the wonders of these small ecosystems will inspire awe in those lucky enough to explore their waters. Grab a snorkel and you’re guaranteed so see some impressive little sea creatures.
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If you’ve got a full day or a weekend to spare, the two and a half hour drive from Melbourne to Polly McQuinns swimming hole is one of Victoria’s better-kept secrets. Apparently haunted by a beardless man called Polly McQuinn who drowned in these waters way back when, this dam is said to be bottomless. Don’t be scared off by the urban legend though – this spot is far from daunting.
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Expedition Pass Reservoir
Expedition Pass Reservoir in Chewton is a calm and expansive water hole located just outside the growing township of Castlemaine. If you thought you were stuck in dry and stuffy inland Victoria, think again. You don’t have to drive all the way to the coast to get some relief during those infamous heatwaves – only a few kilometres away is a welcoming swimming spot that will sort you right out.
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Lerderderg State Park
Only an hour from Melbourne, Lerderderg State Park feels like the middle of nowhere. MacKenzies Flat and Graham’s Dam are two swimming spots surrounded by native bushland where you can reward your hiking efforts or just lounge on the shore. Depending on the time of year, Graham’s Dam can be more of a puddle than a swimming hole, but the water at MacKenzie’s Flat will be deep enough for a dip all year round.
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Eastern Beach Swimming Enclosure, Geelong
Geelong residents have been plunging into the Eastern Beach Swimming Enclosure since its opening back in the 1930s. With the tranquillity of a pool and the salty water of the ocean, this art deco local favourite attracts swimmers young and old to its palm-lined shores, sandy beach and iconic fountain.
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Onsen Ma Japanese Bathhouse
Not quite the place for diving or doing laps – in fact swimming suits aren’t allowed – Onsen Ma is more targeted to bathers hoping to slow down and unwind. The traditional Japanese baths on Meyers Place in Melbourne are open from 10am to 8pm everyday, and offer not only access to the peaceful baths, but massage treatments as well. Here is the place for calming your spirit, or kokoro in Japanese.
(Lead image: Taryn Stenvei)