A long, diagonal chute of water cuts through a layer of jagged bedrock before gushing out into a deep hole in the Ovens
River. The river then opens out into a wide and more tranquil pool for swimming. This spot is fairly unique for swimming along this
stretch of river for a few reasons, all of which are related to the presence of the large rock bar upstream.
Above: The pool in the Ovens River at Nimmo Bridge
(Order this image)
According to information boards on-site and a 2016 article published in the Myrtleford Times
barge operating in the area in the early 20th century worked its way up the Ovens River, dredging the river bed for gold. Unfortunately when digging upstream of Nimmo Bridge,
it hit the rock bar in the river and sank. It was only in 1998 that parts of the buried barge were re-discovered, and then removed from the river in 2016 as part
of the development of Nimmo Bridge Reserve.
Why is this gold mining history important for this swimming hole? In the water there is a deep hole immediately downstream of the rock bar, where the
barge would have last been operating. Elsewhere in the Ovens River, these holes are normally re-filled with discarded river gravel as the barge moves
upstream. But because the barge never made its way any further upstream, the big hole remained, creating a great spot for a swim. The pool is around thirty metres
in diameter, and when swimming against the main current, you can swim endlessly at a reasonable pace.
Above: The cutting through the bedrock in the Ovens River at Nimmo Bridge
(Order this image)
I also played around in the chute running through the rock bar upstream. The water rushes through quite swiftly, but when I visited in mid summer after
a few weeks of dry weather, I could stand up against the current in the shallower parts of the chute without being washed off my feet. The rocks are sharp in parts,
and there are holes in the base of the chute. The last little outcrop before dropping into the pool was a bit rough when sliding over it in the water, but immediately below that
there were relatively few obstacles and it was a good launching spot for drifting downstream.
Out of the water, there is a little beach that receives shade late from mid-afternoon. There are picnic tables here, but away from the river where it
is dry and dusty. If you are wanting to have a picnic after your swim, the Apex Park downstream of Nimmo Bridge, on the other side of Buffalo River Road,
has better facilities. Nimmo Bridge Reserve is also popular with people taking their dogs for a swim.
Here is a video of my swim at Nimmo Bridge, which was filmed in January after a fairly dry spring and early summer. Whilst I wore a wetsuit, the
water temperature was quite mild, and I could happily have swum without it at this time of year.
Other Information Before You Go:
Nimmo Bridge Reserve, Buffalo River Rd, Myrtleford, 300 km (approx. 3 hr 15 mins drive) north east of the Melbourne CBD
Take the Hume Fwy (M31) to Wangaratta then the Great Alpine Road (B500) to Myrtleford. In Myrtleford, head south-west
along the Buffalo River Rd for 1.2 km. Nimmo Bridge Reserve is on your left immediately after crossing the Ovens River.
Car park, picnic tables, rubbish bins, heritage information board.
Mild to cold
Rock, pebbles and coarse sand
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Experienced. Inexperienced swimmers can wade in the shallows under supervision, under low flow conditions.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
Camping is not permitted. Dogs are permitted.
Shade available out of the water
Yes to the car park and river bank, but no wheelchair access down to the water.
Camping is not permitted at Nimmo Bridge Reserve. If you are wanting to stay overnight near this swimming hole, there is a wide range of
accommodation in Myrtleford
Alpine Shire Council
Nearby attractions: Swimming in Lake Buffalo
further along the Buffalo River 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.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park in the reserve.
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming hole, please fill in the comment box below. I'm particularly interested in your
experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions. All fields are required if you would like your comments published on this website.
© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.