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Swimming Hole Battle - Lysterfield vs Lerderderg
Swimming Hole Heaven in Melbourne

Lysterfield Lake and Lerderderg Gorge are two of the best swimming holes close to Melbourne, but which should you visit first? After having spent considerable time in the water at both locations, as with most things, the answer is: it all depends, as explained below. A beach at Lysterfield Lake Above: One of the beaches at Lysterfield Lake (Order this image)

With one near Bacchus Marsh and one close to Dandenong, both are roughly the same distance and travel time from the Melbourne CBD. For those living in the eastern and southern suburbs, Lysterfield Lake is the obvious choice, whilst for those living in the western suburbs, Lerderderg Gorge is within easy reach.
Both are family friendly locations and great for kids wanting to have a swim.

The time of year is a big factor in this decision. Whilst Lysterfield Lake has water for swimming all year round, the Lerderderg River tends to dry up at the height of Summer through to the end of Autumn, particularly if it has been a dry year. The best swimming in the Lerderderg is in late Spring and early Summer, when the river is still running well.

Water quality is also an important consideration. The Lerderderg River is mostly surrounded by natural bush, generating relatively clean and clear water for swimming. On some days the river shines like gold as the sun pierces through the water and reflects back off the sand and quartz river bed.
Lysterfield Lake however has a history of algal blooms that can cause the lake to be closed for swimming. Water quality is well monitored, so there is plenty of warning about the blooms, but they can last for weeks at a time.

For the best swimming in the Lerderderg Gorge, getting there involves a bushwalk through the gorge to Graham's Dam. It is not a long walk, but you would not want to be carrying loads of gear with you. In contrast, if you get there early, you can find a car park right in front of the swimming beach at Lysterfield Lake, and drag a picnic hamper as big as you like down to the water's edge. The toilet facilities are also a lot closer. Stepping stones across the Lerderderg River Above: Stepping stones across the Lerderderg River on the way to Grahams Dam (Order this image)

It is wonderful to be living in a city where we have these choices available. For me, if there is water in the river, Lerderderg Gorge comes out in front, as there is nothing better than swimming in crystal clear water surrounded by native bushland, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. But by all means, explore both and let me know what you think.

You can read more here about Lysterfield Lake for swimmers and Lerderderg Gorge for swimmers, or you can find out more here about other swimming holes in Melbourne. Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information.

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