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Tronoh Dredge Hole, Harrietville
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria


 
The Tronoh Dredge Hole was created in the mid 20th century when a section of the Ovens River East Branch was cut off from the main river course to dredge it for gold. The hole has filled up with water to create a small lake. It was enhanced as a swimming destination by local volunteers, who have since added a quirkily named jetty and a floating swimming pontoon. The lake is nestled in amongst a mix of tall native and European trees, with walking tracks around the edge of the lake and through the surrounding forest. Joop's Jetty at Tronoh Dredge Hole in Harrietville Above: Joop's Jetty at Tronoh Dredge Hole with the swimming pontoon in the distance (Order this image)

The lake has been plagued by algal blooms in recent years, primarily due to the lack of throughflow. On my last visit there was a noisy pump working away in the far corner of the lake, trying to push through some fresh water. Despite the best efforts of the pump, there were still several large mats of algae floating on the leeward side of the lake.

I hope that the efforts to eliminate the algae are successful, and that this swimming hole can be restored to its former glory. There is a second lake to the north of the jetty that is connected to the main dredge hole, but this smaller lake was quite stagnant and is not suitable for swimming. Tronoh Dredge Hole in Harrietville Above: Tronoh Dredge Hole and the surrounding mountains (Order this image)

As a dredge hole, the banks of the lake are quite steep, and the water depth increases quickly away from the shore. Therefore, this swimming spot is best suited to experienced swimmers who can tread water without needing to stand up. Even if you decide not to get into the water, this picturesque spot is worth a visit for a walk through the surrounding forest trails or for a picnic with a view of the lake. For anyone with an interest in geomorphology, the nearby Ovens River East Branch is eerily straight, presumably because the river bends were taken out by the dredging activities.

This swimming hole did not make it into my top 50 in Victoria because of its recent history of algal blooms. There is a lesser known swimming hole in the nearby Ovens River East Branch that did make it into my top 50. If you want to know where it is, grab a copy of the guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria.
Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Tronoh Dredge Reserve, Feathertop Track, Harrietville, 350 km (approx. 4 hr 15 mins drive) north east of the Melbourne CBD
Latitude:-36.896464 Longitude:147.069936
Getting there: From the Great Alpine Rd in Harrietville turn left at Feathertop Track before you reach the main town centre. Tronoh Dredge Reserve is signposted just after the first bend. Drive through the small pine forest to the car park.
Facilities: Toilets, woodfire bbq, jetty, picnic tables, walking tracks, life buoy, pontoon
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild

Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Gravel
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No camping, no littering
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible toilets, but uneven and sloping ground with no designated wheelchair accessible paths.
Accommodation Options: Camping is not permitted at the dredge hole. If you want to stay overnight near this swimming hole, you can try the following options around Harrietville. All distances below are by road, not as the crow flies.
Nearby accommodation option:Distance from swim:
Feathertop Retreat 600 m
Black Mamba House 1.1 km
Mountain View 1.2 km
Booking your accommodation via these links may result in a commission (at no additional cost to the price of the linked item) to swimmingholeheaven.com that helps maintain and enhance this website.
Managing authority: Local volunteers
Nearby attractions: Bright Splash Park, 20 km south of Harrietville.
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 swimming hole, the toxins in algal blooms have been linked to neurological disorders, so don't swim in the water if algal blooms are present. The managing authority warns that there is deep water and submerged objects.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park at the Tronoh Dredge Hole. 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
Comments:
Here is a little bit of local history about the dredge hole from someone who has worked and swum there, and a suggestion for cliff jumpers (subject to your own risk):

"I worked on the dredge approx. for 2 years. I had my 21st birthday when I worked on the dredge. I can remember when boating over steel plates they ended up on the bottom of the dredge hole. They brought in a diver to try and retrieve the steel plates, but they never found them. Yes I have had a swim in the dredge hole." - Albert M. from Wangaratta, Australia 26/2/2022. When I asked Albert about how much gold he had seen being recovered from the dredge hole, he replied that "the area where the gold was collected was locked up very securely".

"If you want a thrill as well, on the opposite side of the lake from where the jetty is, there are people who do the jump. It is about a 10 m jump. We used to go every year as a family and it was great fun!" - Tarik A. from Melbourne, Australia 2/5/2022.

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