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Bourchiers Road, Kangaroo Ground
Swimming Hole Heaven in Melbourne

The Yarra River at Bourchiers Road is a popular (ungazetted) skinny dipping location in Melbourne, but you can still come here for a swim without taking your clothes off. There are several places that you can swim here. If you walk straight down to the river from the car park, there is a tiny pebbly beach that provides the easiest entry to the water. The deep pool on the bend is protected by a bank of rocks running right across the river, so the current actually drifts backwards here in a gentle eddy away from the main current. Swimming in the Yarra River at Bourchiers Road Above: This small pebbled beach on the bend provides gradual entry to the water (Order this image)

Alternatively you can squeeze through the gate posts and walk downstream along the track that runs alongside the river. A couple of hundred metres downstream you will reach an open, partly grassed area that people use for picnics or lounging about in between swims. The entry into the water here is more difficult, with sharp, slippery rocks and a steep dropoff that makes it unsuitable for inexperienced swimmers. I measured the depth of the water here at over 3 metres only a few metres away from the bank.

If you are coming here specifically to skinny dip, the general rule is the further downstream you head, the more likely you will be able to take a skinny dip with like minded people.
Keep walking along the track past the open area until you find a second, slightly smaller open space next to the river, downstream of the rapids. When I last visited on a warm November day, this area was mostly frequented by middle aged men, but also included people of different ages and genders, some of whom were skinny dipping. Swimming in the Yarra River at Bourchiers Road Above: The rock entry into the water further downstream, adjacent to the small, grassy plain (Order this image)

Note that in Victoria it is a criminal offence with a penalty of up to two years jail for "willful and obscene exposure" under the Summary Offences Act 1966, however nudity is legally permitted at around half a dozen outdoor locations around Victoria that have been gazetted as such under the Nudity (Prescribed Areas) Act 1983. To the best of my knowledge, the Yarra River at Bourchiers Road is not gazetted under the Nudity (Prescribed Areas) Act 1983, so technically you will be breaking the law if you strip off in view of others.
Given the relatively dense vegetation alongside the river and the high turbidity of the water, if you are discreet you can go for your skinny dip without exposing yourself to others, thereby staying within the confines of the law. This does not in any way constitute legal advice, so assess the legal risks for yourself!

If nudity offends you, then it's best to swim close to the car park, or head downstream to swim at Pound Bend or Laughing Waters.

Here is a video that I took when visiting Bourchiers Road on a warm day in November. There were others swimming there on the day, but out of respect to viewers and the privacy of those swimmers, I did not film them. Fortunately no one tried to arrest me for indecent exposure to ill-considered humour.

This stretch of the Yarra River is generally of better quality than upstream and downstream reaches, however for the most part the river suffers from the triple whammy of being an irrigation drain, a discharge point for leaky septic tanks, and an urban stormwater drain. For this reason, it is not my preferred swimming location in Melbourne, but it is nevertheless a popular spot for people in Melbourne. The EPA provides daily forecasts of whether water is suitable for swimming. Note however that this is only a forecast using only one indicator of water quality. My advice when swimming in the Yarra is to never ever swim within 48 hours after rain (very high risk of water being contaminated), never put your head under, never swim with any open cuts or skin abrasions, and bring an extra bottle of tap water to wash your hands before eating after swimming.

Following the re-opening of the road access, Council have indicated that they will be vigilant in enforcing the parking signs at the end of Bourchiers Road, so I would advise against ignoring the signs if you want your swim to not be an expensive one.
Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Bourchiers Road, Kangaroo Ground, 36 km north east of Melbourne
Latitude:-37.709726 Longitude:145.254272
Getting there: From the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, turn right at Pigeon Bank Lane, which subsequently becomes Menzies Road, following it for 2 km. Then turn right at Bourchiers Road and follow it 800 metres to the car park at the end of the road.
From the car park, follow the tracks about 30 metres down to the river.
Facilities: Car park
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild
Water clarity: Murky
Under foot: Rock, silt, mud
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No camping, no dumping of rubbish
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: None
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: Yarra River at Bend of Islands, which is about 2 km upstream.
Related swims:If you are heading interstate to Canberra and want to find a wonderfully tranquil, government approved skinny dipping location, take a look at Kambah Pool.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park at the end of Bourchiers Rd. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
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