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Lake Catani, Mount Buffalo National Park
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria

This alpine lake with a shimmering golden granite floor has its own little beach, a jetty, and three swimming areas suitable for a dip in summer. I was surprised at both how warm the water was and how easy it was to access deeper water for a proper swim, despite reeds surrounding most of the lake. At the height of summer, the water was much warmer than some other swims at nearby waterfalls. The lake also boasts an adjacent campground if you are looking for a regular swim as part of your camping holiday. The day picnic area at Lake Catani Above: The granite gravel path through the reeds at the day picnic area at Lake Catani (Order this image)

The first area that I explored was the day visitor area. From the car park, it is a 30 metre stroll down to the edge of the water. At this location, the reeds part and a gradual crushed granite path leads out into deeper water.
Once past the reeds, the vista opens up for panoramic views of the lake from in the water. This spot is best suited to those looking to swim in deep water, because there is only very limited space in the shallows in between the reeds on either side. There are a few large boulders under the water, which you can launch yourself off after studying their location, when visibility in the water is good. The jetty steps down to the water at Lake Catani Above: The jetty steps down to the water at Lake Catani (Order this image)

The second spot for a swim is at the jetty near the campground. This little jetty has steps down into waist deep water with a rock and gravel bottom under your feet. Again, this provided quite easy access into the water, but with the advantage that you can wade around in the reed-free shallows, as well as heading further out for a swim.
If coming for the day only, you can park your car near this area by driving up the hill past the day visitor area. There you will find a handful of car spaces and a turning circle under the snow gums. It is about a fifty metre walk from the car park, past the toilet block and down some steps, to the jetty. Space on the bank, directly on the water, is limited here.

The last spot for a swim is the little beach, about thirty metres to the east of the jetty. It is only about 15 metres across, and rather than being sand, it is made up of compacted dirt and crushed gravel. With its gradual entry into the water and larger area of shallow water, this is a popular spot for both swimming with kids and for launching canoes and dinghys. The beach has good shade from overhanging trees for much of the day. The little swimming beach at Lake Catani Above: The little swimming beach near the campground at Lake Catani (Order this image)

The campground itself is well sheltered, with individual campsites nestled in amongst the snow gums. It is a few minute walk from the campground to the water, depending on where your site is.

Here is a video of swimming at all three of the above-mentioned locations, plus a little snapshot of the campground. This was taken on a hot day in late summer, when there were a few people out on the water, mostly in canoes.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Mount Buffalo Tourist Rd, 31 km (approx. 30 min drive) west of Porepunkah and 340 km (approx. 4 hr drive) north east of the Melbourne CBD
Latitude:-36.734314 Longitude:146.811289
Getting there: From the Hume Fwy, take the Great Alpine Road to Porepunkah (B500) and then follow the Mount Buffalo Tourist Road (C535). Once at the top of the mountain, follow the signs to Lake Catani. To reach the day visitor area and campground, follow the dirt road along the southern side of the lake, when indicated by the signs. This narrow road was suitable for 2WD vehicles in dry conditions when I visited.
Facilities: Near the beach and jetty: Campground, picnic tables, public toilets, covered barbecues, covered tables. Near the day visitor area: picnic tables, fire pits with hot plates. A walking trail goes around the lake.

Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild to cold
Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Crushed granite and rock
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: The access road down to Lake Catani campground and day visitor area from the Mount Buffalo Tourist Road is closed during winter or following periods of heavy rain. The park is closed on Code Red Fire Danger days.
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Beginners (at the beach near the campground)
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No diving from the jetty. No camping in the day visitor area. No cats, no dogs, no disturbing the vegetation.
Wheelchair access: There are no designated wheelchair accessible paths. There are steps down to the jetty and beach. The day visitor area is relatively flat, but with some boulders along the track before you reach the water. Parks Victoria lists the wheelchair accessible campsites on its website.
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: Eurobin Falls and Ladies Bath Falls further back down the Mount Buffalo Tourist Road.
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 swim, the managing authority advises that there is shallow water and submerged objects.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the day visitor car park. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
View Larger Map
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