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The Best Swims in the Yarra River
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria

Where are the best swimming holes in the Yarra River? From the Upper Yarra to Southbank and the swimming hole Goldilocks zone in between, I have taken a dip along the length of Melbourne's upside down river. Here is a short summary of those swims, from the city heading upstream, with links provided to more detailed information and additional swims in my swimming hole guide. Yarra River swimming hole at Deep Rock Above: Yarra River at Deep Rock, a popular swimming venue in early to mid 20th century Melbourne (Order this image)

Close to the city, it is illegal to swim downstream of Abottsford. In the early and mid-20th century, the reach upstream of Abottsford had numerous swimming clubs along the river, including swimming pools in the river at Deep Rock above Dights Falls, Fairfield and Alphington.
These clubs and their facilities quickly disappeared after chlorinated public swimming pools started being built, particularly in the period around the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. A group of enthusiastic locals still swims here regularly today.

The reach of the Yarra River around Warrandyte and Eltham boasts the most popular natural swimming holes along the river. This area has pockets of natural bush, particularly in and around the Warrandyte State Park. The best include Laughing Waters in Eltham, Pound Bend Tunnel in Warrandyte, Bourchiers Road in Kangaroo Ground, and for the more adventurous, the biggest rapid on the Yarra River at the Bend of Islands.

The water quality at these swimming holes is suitable for swimming during long, hot summers, but stay away after rain, when it has a real pong from pollutants being washed into the river and you might end up compromising your health. Bend of Islands Above: The largest rapids on the Yarra River at Bend of Islands (Order this image)

Upstream of Kangaroo Ground heading towards Yarra Glen, the river flattens out with relatively few of the rock outcrops needed to create really good swimming holes. Agricultural runoff from farms in the Yarra Valley also makes this reach of the river less appealing for swimmers, so expect to find slow moving, muddy water that is not particularly appealing to swim in. Yarra River between Kangaroo Ground and Yarra Glen Above: The muddy, slow moving waters of the Yarra River between Kangaroo Ground and Yarra Glen (Order this image)

Skipping to the northernmost public access point on the Yarra River, downstream of Upper Yarra Reservoir, the river is crystal clear and surrounded by pristine forest.
In many respects it is unrecognisable as the Yarra River that most people in Melbourne know. This stretch of the river is great for cooling down your feet in the water, but it is largely too shallow to swim in. Yarra River downstream of Upper Yarra Reservoir Above: A shallow pool in the Yarra River downstream of Upper Yarra Reservoir (Order this image)

The best swimming holes in the Yarra River are located in what I like to call the Goldilocks zone, which is downstream of Upper Yarra Reservoir but upstream of the majority of the farms in the Yarra Valley. Here you will find largely unpolluted, crystal clear water at swimming holes with bush surrounds. In the right spots, the water is also deep enough for a proper swim.
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If you want to find out more about these swimming holes in the Goldilocks zone, order a copy of the Guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria. The Goldilocks Zone of the Yarra River Above: A swimming hole in the Goldilocks Zone of the Yarra River (Order this image)

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

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