Refreshing swimming spots aren’t the first things to come to mind when you imagine the sweltering Australian outback.
And yet, this red, rugged land is scattered with lakes, waterholes and waterfalls worth a stop-by on any visit to Queensland’s backcountry. Here are some of the best swimming holes to cool off in around Outback Queensland.
Combo Waterhole, Kynuna
Combo is the famous billabong from Australia’s bush ballad, Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda. It’s home to an incredible mix of bird species, including colourful kingfishers, rainbow bee-eaters, long-legged pratincoles and tiny weebills. A self-guided track outlines the billabong so visitors can relive the story of the jolly swagman whose “ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong.”
Lawn Hill Creek, Boodjamulla National Park
A nature lover’s dream, Lawn Hill Creek winds its way through the red sandstone ranges and cliff gorges of Boodjamulla National Park. With cascading waterfalls, including the beautiful Indarri Falls blanketed in vegetation, it’s paradise for kayakers. Those wanting to share a dip with turtles, barramundi and archerfish will also love this spot. Duwadarri Waterhole, shrouded by purple waterlilies, is a favourite spot for campers to set off for the day’s hike or canoe around the gorge. Be sure to keep an eye out for the area’s 140 bird species.
Birdsville Billabong, Birdsville
A breathtaking spot to view the outback sunset, Birdsville Billabong is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Right on the edge of town, the river plays host to kayakers, swimmers, fishermen and avid birdwatchers all year round. Across the water is Pelican Point, a popular peninsula with great views of the swimming hole and its teeming wildlife.
Looking for accommodation in Birdsville? Check this out.
Cooper Creek, Windorah
Steeped in history, Cooper Creek first became famous for being the original burial site of Burke and Wills. On the return of their pioneering expedition between Melbourne and the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1861, it was here that the Australian explorers wound up stranded without enough supplies. A reminder of our nation’s pioneering efforts through uncharted land, the area is best experienced through camping. Aside from its rich history, it’s also a great spot for fishing, canoeing and campfires.
Longreach Waterhole, Longreach
Named after the ‘long reach’ of the Thomson River this town is home to one of Outback Queensland’s largest swimming holes. And since the Tropic of Capricorn runs right through Longreach, you’ll definitely need a dip. Apex Park camping grounds is a great place to set up camp for a few nights, and from here you can swim, fish and take a serene river cruise.
Lake Moondarra, Mount Isa
It’s renowned for its abundance of barramundi. But at Lake Moondarra you’ll also find terrific picnic areas, pontoons, boat ramps and even a ski jump. For this reasons, it’s one of the region’s busier swimming holes. Connected to the Leichhardt River, just 16 kilometres from Mount Isa, the artificial lake is a fisherman’s dream. Besides barra, it holds sooty grunter, saratoga, alligator gar, fork-tailed catfish, jewfish, archerfish, spangled perch and sleepy cod.
Lake Fred Tritton, Richmond
Purpose-built as a water sports recreational area, Lake Fred Tritton is the perfect destination for a family getaway. It’s equipped with sandy beaches, playgrounds, barbecue areas, waterpark and camping facilities. As well as swimming, canoeing and waterskiing, the lake is fit for fishing, stocked with more than 18 species, including redclaw yabbies and barramundi.