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Colbrook Reservoir
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria


 
This former water supply reservoir for Ballan provides a 200 metre open water swim within a steep gully, with bush camping on the shoreline. The reservoir is accessible by 4WD to the water's edge or a steep 600 metre walk from the nearest 2WD access road. Swimming in Colbrook Reservoir Above: The curved dam wall and open water at Colbrook Reservoir (Order this image)

The dam wall is off limits, but on the eastern shore there are two cleared, bush camping areas for entering the water. There was a lot of soft mud and leaf litter under foot near the shore and I was sinking down to the base of my ankle, so swimming shoes are a good idea here.
However, once past this squishy mud and out through a large gap in the reeds, there is a long expanse of water. Because this reservoir is no longer used to supply water, it usually stays close to full right through summer when other nearby reservoirs (like Pykes Creek Reservoir) are less attractive for swimming because they have been drawn down low. Swimming in Colbrook Reservoir Above: One of the bush campsites next to the water at Colbrook Reservoir (Order this image)

On the opposite bank of the reservoir there are a couple of rope swings. Rope swings are often placed in terrible positions, but this one was great. The rope was easy to grab and the steep gully meant that it was possible to get a good run up for the swing and the water was immediately very deep, with a near vertical drop away from the water's edge. As with any rope swing, always check the condition of the rope, the water depth, and for any obstacles under the water before you use the swing. Swimming in Colbrook Reservoir Above: One of the rope swings over the water at Colbrook Reservoir (Order this image)

If you are planning to camp here, the space available is limited to only a handful of spots, and there are no facilities other than a few makeshift firepits. Whilst this spot is difficult for most vehicles to access, have a backup plan for your camping on summer weekends in case the few spots available are occupied. There was evidence of people also having camped next to Binks Road. If you are leaving your vehicle on Binks Road and walking down to the reservoir, as I did, do not leave any valuables in the car, as there was shattered glass on the ground in this area, consistent with vehicle break-ins.

Below is a video of my swim in Colbrook Reservoir on a cool day in Autumn.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Colbrook Reservoir on unnamed track off Binks Road, Colbrook, 13 km north of Ballan and 92 km north-west of the Melbourne CBD.
Latitude:-37.520911 Longitude:144.231734
Getting there: From the Western Fwy (M8) turn off at the Ballan exit (C803). From Ballan, head north along the Ballan-Greendale Road then 1 km north of the freeway turn left into Blakeville Road. Follow Blakeville Road for 8 km then turn right into Binks Road. Follow Binks Road for 1.9 km. Park and walk or if you have a 4WD, choose any of the three 4WD tracks heading down to the reservoir.
Facilities: Informal fire pits. No other facilities.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Cool to mild
Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Mud and silt
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No walking on the dam wall, no access allowed on days of total fire ban, no digging for bait, no use of berley (fish bait)
Sun shade: Shade available over parts of the water in the morning and afternoon. Shade available out of the water.
Opening times: Always open except on days of total fire ban
Wheelchair access: None
Accommodation Options: There are a handful of bush campsites in two cleared areas beside the water for whoever claims them first, with a small cleared area beside Binks Road at the top of the hill, away from the reservoir. There is not much accommodation nearby, but if you are looking for something quirky, you can try this train carriage in Ballan, 13 km to the south. Booking your accommodation via these links may result in a commission (at no additional cost to the price of the linked item) to swimmingholeheaven.com that helps maintain and enhance this website.
Managing authority: Central Highlands Water
Nearby attractions: Pykes Creek Reservoir, 25 km by road to the south-east. Korweinguboora Creek, on which Colbrook Reservoir is located, eventually flows into Pykes Creek Reservoir.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. Specific to this site, steer clear of the dam wall so there is no risk of being swept over when the creek is running.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of one of the cleared areas where I entered the water. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can sometimes occur when loading, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
View Larger Map
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