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Australia's Best Camping Swimming Holes
Swimming Hole Heaven

Where are Australia's best swimming holes for camping? Here are my top 10 campsites with great natural swimming spots, drawn from my own experiences of swimming at each location.

Number 10: Lake Fyans at the base of the Grampians in western Victoria. Here you will find shimmering transparent amber water with a sandy bottom that slopes so gently that you can wade over fifty metres offshore before getting out of your depth.

There are several accommodation options at the local caravan park, from cabins to unpowered sites, all of which involve a one to two minute walk to reach the water. It is a great spot to introduce your kids to a camping and swimming holiday without going out of your comfort zone.

Number 9: Mummuga Lake Outlet at Dalmeny Beach on the NSW south coast. I chose to include this one in my top 10 because it is another family friendly swim, but this time in a tidal environment with conditions that are continually changing.

In this stretch of water there are shallow, sandy areas to splash around in, and a deep hole with steps down into the water for more experienced swimmers.
The local caravan park is up on the hill, overlooking the lake outlet, and is one of the most popular on the NSW south coast during peak holiday periods. There is also a patrolled surf beach adjacent to the lake outlet, but it can get a little rough at times.

Number 8: Cotter Campground in the Australian Capital Territory just outside of Canberra. The water here is shallow, but with a pretty reliable flow because it is fed in part from the upstream Cotter Dam. Cotter River at Cotter Campground Above: Cotter River at Cotter Campground (Order this image)

The swimming hole is bounded at one end by a small weir that helps to back up the flow of water, with the camping area at the edge of the river floodplain, about twenty metres from the water. This small campsite is extremely busy during holiday periods, and you cannot book ahead. Some Canberrans get up at the crack of dawn on weekdays to secure their spot here for the weekend.

Number 7: Vaughan Springs in the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park in western Victoria. This swimming hole can be a bit fickle in late summer, but on a sunny spring or early summer's day it makes for a great, readily accessible swimming hole with an under-utilised camping area nearby. Unpowered campsites are located on a flat area on the side of the small hill overlooking the river, a few hundred metres from the swimming hole. Wander down for a dip and enjoy a sip of mineral water from one of the local springs on your way back. You might even notice a tang in the swimming hole from mineral water seeping into the pool.

Number 6: Town Beach at Tocumwal, along the mighty River Murray in southern NSW. This is very basic camping (the sign on site describes it as "primitive"), but the good news it that it is at next to no cost, and the shops in town are within reasonable walking distance if you need to stock up. Camping here is at the back of the River Murray floodplain, with only a few dozen steps across the sand to the long beach at the water's edge.
The current here can be incredibly swift and powerful, so stay close to the shore and for more experienced swimmers, enjoy floating or swimming along the length of the beach before walking upstream for your next ride. Town Beach, Tocumwal Above: River Murray at Town Beach in Tocumwal (Order this image)

Number 5: Green Hill Lake near Ararat in western Victoria. I've seen the best of times and the worst of times at Green Hill Lake, and at its best, for combined swimming and camping, it is really very good. There is plenty of space to choose an unpowered campsite overlooking the water that suits your needs, and even more space in the water to really stretch out for a decent swim. Given its proximity to Melbourne, it is popular as a stopover for grey nomads heading to or from the city on their way around the country.

Number 4: The Blue Pool north of Briagolong in East Gippsland in Victoria. Anyone who has read my Guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria will know my views on the quality of this swimming hole. As a camping spot it does not rate quite as highly, because the number of spots available is limited and because you cannot see the water from your unpowered campsite. Still, a thirty metre stroll from your tent along a bush track is small compensation to pay for one of the best swims you can wake up to. Blue Pool Above: The Blue Pool near Briagolong (Order this image)

Number 3: Florence Falls in the Litchfield National Park south of Darwin. The campsites at Florence Falls will get you access to not one, but two swimming holes within walking distance. It is a bit of effort to walk from the campsites on the escarpment down to the base of Florence Falls, but swimming in a waterfall filled, crystal clear pool, in amongst the fish is something quite special.
On top of that, there is also a walking track that runs from Florence Falls to nearby Buley Rockhole, another great swimming hole. Florence Falls Above: Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park near Darwin (Order this image)

Number 2: Lake Catani in the Mount Buffalo National Park in north-east Victoria. From the bush camping sites scattered in amongst the snow gums, it is just a short walk over the ridge to the water's edge, with several alternative entry points. This swim is as long as you want to make it, from just splashing around at the little beach near the campground to several hundred metre laps across the lake. Wait until after Christmas to get in the water to allow the lake to warm up properly, when the temperature becomes quite mild. Lake Catani Above: My dip at Lake Catani (Order this image)

Number 1: Lake Eckersley in the Heathcote National Park south of Sydney. Only accessible by foot, it is possible to book out this small, remote campsite with only you and a few friends/family, and have the whole place to yourself. The swimming hole is not more than a dozen steps from your tent, comes with its own jumping rock, with options to explore further upstream and downstream as well. Perfect for getting away from it all in a place that is still remarkably close to the city.

Choosing this list and its order was based on a combination of the quality of the swimming hole, the capacity of the swimming hole relative to the number of campsites around it, and the quality of the campsite. It includes a range of readily accessible and remote campsites.
I have visited many many more swimming holes with campsites than what I could fit on this list, which you can access from the Swimming Hole Heaven Australia home page. I am sure there are many more swimming holes with campsites that you have visited, particularly in States and Territories where I have not spent as much time. Feel free to let me know about your favourite camping and swimming experiences and suggest a swim.

Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information.

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