Places They Swam
For their book, Places We Swim, Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon scoured Australia for the most notable spots to take a dip. Here are their highlights.
The idea of documenting our swims is something that we had been indirectly working on through years of road trips and exploration. However, it was only when our far-fetched pitch was accepted by our publisher that it coalesced into a book. We had always talked about driving a big lap around the country, and suddenly had found the perfect excuse to do so. We quit our jobs and hit the road to find 65 of the best Places We Swim. Here are some of our favourites from each state.
Gunlom Falls, NT
You may be familiar with Gunlom Falls, even if you’ve never been to the NT. These days it seems to find its way into every tourism campaign, or else it is clogging our newsfeeds, making city life feel incredibly unadventurous and grey. Many of us, however, will remember Gunlom, and indeed Kakadu National Park, from the Crocodile Dundee era. It’s impossible not to be dazzled by this spot, no matter how many other visitors there are nor how many photos you have seen. This is the Territory’s most famous infinity pool, and a major stop on any Kakadu pilgrimage.
Josephine Falls, Tropical North QLD
One of the things that surprised us the most about Queensland is the state’s inland swimming spots and waterfalls. We visited in the wet season, which locals call “waterfall season”; it’s a magical time, and such a contrast to the island we hope to see in postcards. We spent some time zipping around the Atherton Tablelands and discovered this series of tiered granite rock pools just south of Cairns in Wooroonooran National Park. Here emerald water creates a natural Wet ‘n’ Wild park as it slides over granite boulders between tall trees.
Dalhousie Springs, SA
Located in the Witjira National Park on the western fringe of the Simpson Desert, Dalhousie Springs is probably one of the most remote places where any of us will ever swim (or drive to). Early morning is the best time to visit the spring, where the water temperature is 38°C and mist rises off the surface of the water. This is the perfect place to soak in warm waters after days of driving over dusty, unsealed roads – a true oasis.
Yarrangobilly Thermal Pool, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW
There is an undeniable feeling of lightness up here in the Snowy Mountains, a slow stability that you don’t get on the coast. Where the ocean is heavy and volatile, the mountains are grounding. In a walk down the gentle track to bathe, there is an easy predictability. Limestone monoliths loom above the river valley like hulking grey castles straddling deep capes. Nestled among them is a crystal-clear 20-metre thermal pool. No matter the weather or time of year, the pool will always be 27°C. Just enough to cool you in summer or to warm you in winter.
Bushrangers Bay, Mornington Peninsula, VIC
This basalt coastline is quite unlike anywhere else in the area, or even the state. Volcanic black rocks emerge from the clear blue water. Deep pools are filled at high tide and slowly warm throughout the day. Start your strip at Cape Schanck Lighthouse carpark, where it is a three-kilometre one-way walk into Bushrangers Bay. Follow the beach east towards the rocky headlands. The most prominent feature is Elephant Rock and the best pools are distributed around its base, on the left-hand side.
West Beach, Esperance, WA
By the time we got to southern WA, we’d seen a lot of beautiful water and white sand, but nothing compared to the immaculate clarity of Esperance’s West Beach. What makes it even more amazing is that it exists in a low-key suburban neighbourhood, not in a National Park or on a remote island. West Beach, or “Firsties”, is the first stop on Twilight Beach Road as it heads west along the tourist loop. Aside from the tranquil blue water, its most defining feature is a long, shallow reef that follows the shoreline. At low tide, still lagoons form between the reef and the beach, providing long-laps lanes.
Cockle Creek, Recherche Bay, TAS
The sheltered natural harbour of Recherche Bay is an oasis of calm in the wild southern land. Few waves ever penetrate it and those of you daring enough to take the cold plunge will have kilometres of white-sand beach all to yourselves. Our top spot is the tidal inlet. Because the water is relatively shallow here, it is dramatically warmer than anywhere else. Reliable pools are formed around the pylons of the single-land bridge, and while you are here you may as well grab some lunch: oysters populate the intertidal rocks and, true to its name, there are about 1000 cockles per metre in the mud (unfortunately, harvesting is prohibited).
Places We Swim is published by Hardie Grant. It’s available in bookstores nationally and online at placesweswim.com. For more summer swimming inspiration, follow Caroline and Dillon on Instagram @placesweswim.