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Minnehaha Falls, Hiawatha
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria


 
Camp nearby and swim in the refreshingly cold natural pool beneath Minnehaha Falls in South Gippsland. The pool is directly accessible from the road and the campground, with a fast flowing waterfall at the top and a waist deep swirling eddy off to one side. This circular pool is roughly 20 metres across in both directions, with relatively easy, gradual entry from the downstream end. The pool below Minnehaha Falls Above: The pool below Minnehaha Falls (Order this image)

After visiting this pool on a spring morning, and having my breath taken away by the deep chill on the water, I can strongly recommend swimming here in the afternoon (when the sun can warm up the water in the eddy) and in summer (when the current from the falls will be less ferocious). Swimming here at this time gave me a new found respect for the little short-finned eel I saw meandering around the edge of the pool, oblivious to my presence in the water, and seemingly unphased by the water temperature.

The big drawcard with this swim is the free campground immediately downstream. It runs along the grassy river flat, with several stone fire pits assembled by previous campers. The downstream section of the river is too shallow for swimming, however there is a deeper stretch alongside one part of the campground, shown in the photo below. This swimming spot and campground is fairly remote from the main tourist sites in South Gippsland. A deeper section of Albert River alongside the campground Above: A deeper section of Albert River alongside the campground (Order this image)

The falls themselves are named after the fictional character Minnehaha in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 poem "The Song of Hiawatha". Minnehaha is stated as translating as "Laughing Water" in the poem. Whilst these falls look quite different to the photographs I have seen of Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota, where the poem is set, the steep valley walls and the pine tree jutting out from the rock ledge above the falls are perhaps reminiscent of the Dakotas in that area.

Here is a video of my dip at Minnehaha Falls on a spring morning when the river was flowing well.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Annie Greenaway Reserve, Albert River Road, Madalya, 250 km (approx. 3 hr drive) south-east of the Melbourne CBD by road, or 25 km north-west of Yarram. Note this location on Google Maps is denoted as Madalya, but Hiawatha is actually the closest locality.
Latitude:-38.519843 Longitude:146.464847
Getting there: You can reach Yarram from either South Gippsland (via the A440) or the Latrobe Valley (via the C483 and C484). From Yarram head west and then north for 25 km along the Albert River Road. The last few kilometres is gravel, but was in good condition and suitable for 2WD vehicles on my visit. The falls are visible from the road on the right hand side, just before Jacksons Road.
Facilities: Car park, camping ground, lawn area, toilet. There are no bins, so take your rubbish home with you.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Cold
Water clarity: Cloudy, but may be clear in summer in full sun
Under foot: Rock, gravel and loose stones
Maximum water depth: 1-2 metres, but may be deeper right at the base of the falls, which I could not access due to strong currents.
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced

Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No unsafe campfires, no deposit of litter. Dogs permitted.
Sun shade: Shade available in and out of the water
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: The falls are visible from the road and car park. Access to the pool is across a gently sloping lawn area with thick grass that could be wheelchair accessible, but there are no formal access paths.
Accommodation Options: Free, unpowered campsites are available in Annie Greenaway Reserve, 50 metres downstream of the pool on a first come, first served basis. In the other nearby accommodation options below, all distances are by road, not as the crow flies.
Nearby accommodation:Distance from swim:
Bush Retreat Farm 19 km
Yarram Cottage 25 km
Art Deco Cottage 25 km
Managing authority: Wellington Shire Council
Nearby attractions: Tarra Falls in the Tarra Valley, 10 km to the north-east (but much longer via sealed roads).
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 falls.
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