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Yarra River at Pound Bend
Swimming Hole Heaven in Melbourne


 
Pound Bend Tunnel was constructed through a loop in the Yarra River in the late 19th century to change the course of the river and dredge the exposed horseshoe bend for gold. The tunnel itself is just under 150 m in length and more than 4 m high. The rock pool at the tunnel outlet is a popular spot for relaxing in the water. You can lay yourself down in this natural spa, wedge your feet against a rock ledge and let the rushing water wash over you while the main stream of the Yarra meanders below. Well recommended for sports recovery Sundays. Beyond the rock ledges, a shallow pool rings the outlet for a calmer swim. Swimming in the Yarra River at Pound Bend Above: Water rushing from the tunnel outlet, with the light at the tunnel inlet visible in the distance (Order this image)

This suburban nature park has an extensive lawned picnic area and there are gentle nature walks and cycling paths in and around the park. The park hosts a variety of native plants and animals. 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. Swimming in the Yarra River at Pound Bend Above: The wading area downstream of the Pound Bend tunnel outlet (Order this image)

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 Pound Bend over a few separate occasions, including a spa at the tunnel outlet and dangling my feet in the shallow pool. If you watch closely, you will notice the different river depth at different times of the year.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Warrandyte State Park, 28 km north east of Melbourne
Latitude:-37.736436 Longitude:145.198766
Getting there: From Warrandyte Road in Warrandyte, turn off at Pound Road and follow it to the park entrance.
Facilities: Toilets, tables, lawns, parking, canoe ramp, walking tracks
Entrance fee: None
Water clarity: Murky

Water temperature: Mild
Under foot: Rock and silty sand
Maximum water depth: Less than 1 metre (in the rock pool)
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced. Beginners can play around the edge of the rockpool under strict supervision.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No cats or dogs, no disturbing of plants or animals
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: 8am to 7pm
Wheelchair access: Toilet facilities and picnic tables designed for wheelchair access. No wheelchair access to tunnel.
Accommodation Options: No camping is permitted at Pound Bend. If you are visiting Melbourne and want to stay near this swimming hole, you can try accommodation in Warrandyte, which is the closest town to this swim.
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: Warrandyte art galleries in the main street of Warrandyte, or for a swim Laughing Waters is only a kilometre downstream (but much further by 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, according to local Warrandyte resident Norma Wall (2/2/2017), snakes are active in the area in the warmer months of the year, so take care when walking or swimming.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park at the start of the short walking trail to the tunnel outlet.
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