June marks the beginning of the Top End swimming season, which opens up a whole world across the north of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Water levels have receded, pools have been surveyed, and it’s nothing but sunshine and sandstone for the next three months. This is one of our favourite spots in Nitmilik National Park, Northern Territory – upper pool at Leliyn (Edith) Falls. The steep, 2km hike from the carpark will ensure that your skin hisses like a hot pan as you lower an overheating body into the perfectly cool water. Leaving is always the hardest part.
The very same geological processes that make Karijini so unique and beautiful are responsible for WA’s Pilbara deposits of iron ore, lithium, nickel, gold and petroleum. This means that treasured wilderness often sits directly adjacent to some of Australia’s biggest mining operations. Miraculously, the gorges of Karijini remain largely unspoilt as they carve cool paths through this arid land. Kermit Pool is a prime example. You have to walk, spider climb and swim through a couple of kms of banded iron slot canyons to reach this green pool. The water is deep, so dive in.
When the Queensland government decommissioned and sunk 15 vessels off the western shore of Moreton Island, the intention was to create a break wall and safe harbour for boats, which is exactly what they accomplished. However, the unintended result was wildly more successful. The ships have transformed into a thriving reef ecosystem and are now home to some of Australia’s most interesting and accessible snorkeling. This is the Tangalooma Wrecks.
This basalt coastline is quite unlike anywhere else in the state. Volcanic black rocks emerge from clear blue water. Deep pools are filled at high tide and slowly warm up throughout the day. It has a distinct look and feel, so you can imagine how our eyes popped out of our heads when we saw this secret spot featured in the 2009 film adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. Indeed, it seems like a natural place for a wild rumpus. You will see lots of kangaroos here if you arrive early in the morning.
The Freycinet Peninsula is the epicentre of our long-standing love affair with Tassie’s east coast. No matter how many times we visit, we are overwhelmed by a sense of awe and discovery. Wineglass Bay is an enormous, sheltered beach possessing all of the attributes of a perfect place to swim: white sand, clear water, set in an amphitheatre of granite mountains. We just hope you don’t mind the cold.
With so many incredible ocean pools along the coast it’s hard to leave, but we did and we loved it. It’s true Australia out here – dry and dusty. Bore baths are abundant in this region, but this one is in a class all of its own. The giant circular spa is a brilliant public space, free to enter, open seven days a week, 24-hours a day. The mineralised water is an intersection for weary travellers and eccentric locals, a de facto town square. It’s a welcoming place and you can’t help but to be relaxed in the hot 40-degree spa pool – no doubt the result of magnesium, lithium and dehydration. Whatever the reason, it feels great.
A limestone sinkhole with sheer walls that plunge about 32 metres below the surface. A key stop on any swimming pilgrimage.