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Yarra River at Laughing Waters
Swimming Hole Heaven in Melbourne

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. Swimming in the Yarra River at Laughing Waters 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 or some of my other suggested swims along the Yarra. The locals will have you towed away quick smart if you block a driveway. Swimming in the Yarra River at Laughing Waters Above: The steep little beach along the Yarra River at Laughing Waters (Order this image)

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.
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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:
Location: Laughing Waters Rd, Eltham, 28 km north east of Melbourne
Latitude:-37.731727 Longitude:145.192241
Getting there: 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, park your car on the side of the road, walk up the last 100 m of the road (taking the road to that veers to the left, not the Caitlin's Retreat driveway to the right), walk around the stone gates at the end of the road, and then immediately turn right, following the path down to the river.

Facilities: None
Entrance fee: None
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Always open
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 guide
Wheelchair access: None
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: 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.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the end of Laughing Waters Rd, from which Laughing Waters can be reached. 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
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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