Laughing Waters is a series of broad, deep pools separated by small rapids along a reach of the Yarra River near Eltham. It is a little bit
harder to get to than swimming spots on the Warrandyte side of the river, so there is a greater chance of some privacy for your swim in
this relatively secluded location.
Above: The downstream pool in the Yarra River at Laughing Waters
(Order this image)
Space is limited on the bank of the river, so if there are any cars parked along the road, then you are
likely to be sharing these waterholes with other people. The site is entirely surrounded by native bush, which gives you a rare sense of
isolation this close to the city.
Bring some lilos or a blow up dinghy to make the most of your time here, plus anything else you might need, because there are no facilities
here. Whatever you bring you need to be able to carry it in and out - do not leave your rubbish behind! On a hot weekend, parking is
extremely limited, so if you see a lot of cars parked along Laughing Waters Road, turn around and head to a spot that can accommodate more
people, such as Pound Bend
. The locals will have you towed away quick smart if you block a driveway.
Above: The steep little beach along the Yarra River at Laughing Waters
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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.
Here is a video that I took when visiting Laughing Waters. I was lucky enough to be able to visit on
a weekday in autumn when there was no one else around.
Other Information Before You Go:
Laughing Waters Rd, Eltham, 28 km north east of Melbourne
From Mount Pleasant Rd on the northern side of the river, turn south at Reynolds Rd, then turn left at
Laughing Waters Road, following it to the end, remembering to veer right at the intersection with Overbank Road. When you
reach Caitlins Retreat, walk up the last 100 m, go around the stone gates, and then immediately turn right, following the
path down to the river.
Shade available out of the water
Water temperature, water clarity, conditions under foot in the water, maximum water depth, minimum
swimming proficiency required,and prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
Order the full guide
There is no camping available at Laughing Waters. If you are travelling from outside
of Melbourne, you can try
accommodation near this swimming hole
Montsalvat Artists' Community
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the lower pool at Laughing Waters.
Here is a comment from one swimmer after visiting this swimming hole:
"I am buying your guide as a Christmas present for my sister after we went to Laughing Waters the other day
(which we got to via your directions on your website) and had the most fantastic day there. Thank you for creating such a
wonderful guide and we look forward to hitting up lots of swimming holes over the summer :)"
- Julie from Cragieburn, Victoria, Australia 18/12/2015
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experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions. All fields are required if you would like your comments published on this website.
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