With coastline that stretches for more than 30,000 miles, it’s little wonder that Australia has an astonishing 10,685 beaches to choose from. Whether you prefer the serene white sand coves of the Whitsundays or the rugged, windswept shores of the western part of the continent, there is something for everyone.
The only drawback is that, if you head to the most popular beaches during high season, you’ll finding yourself searching for a tiny strip of sand to call your own alongside thousands of other sun seekers. If you want to experience something a little more unique, head along the road less travelled and explore the many stunning lakes, waterways and natural swimming holes – many of them so secluded that even the locals don’t know they exist.
To infinity and beyond
With a sweeping vista across the Kakadu National Park, swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Gunlom plunge pool at the base of the waterfalls is one of the most spectacular locations you will ever visit. Following the Falls Walk path, you first see panoramic views of the southern part of the park and then, as you carry on, you stumble across the finest infinity swimming pool ever created by nature.
Lake, no swans
At twice the size of Sydney Harbour, Lake Macquarie is one of the biggest salt water lagoons in the Southern Hemisphere and a great base for a host of recreational activities.
Visiting Lake Macquarie is the kind of holiday that will please everyone who loves the great outdoors with a dash of culture. From the thrill of water-skiing and waterfront dining to nature trails and cycle paths, there is plenty to keep you active, along with a number of galleries and museums to keep you intellectually stimulated. You’ll find Lake Macquarie a short drive north of the town of Hornsby with Ingenia Holidays accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
Figure out these two pools
A massive hit with the Instagram generation, the Figure 8 Pools of the Sydney Royal National Park are an entirely naturally phenomenon created when two sinkholes merged together, leaving two deep pools of water in the near-perfect shape of a figure 8.
The tens of thousands of photographs that have been shared of the spot on social media in recent years might give you the impression that it’s an easy place to reach but this couldn’t be further from the truth. For one thing, you can only get to the pools at low tide so check with the Bureau of Meteorology before heading off, otherwise you might have a wasted journey. The spot can be found on a rock ledge at the south end of the park and requires sturdy walking boots. It is however, completely worth the trek and you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of photo opportunities on the way.
The (not so) Pink Lake
For many years, tourists would flock to the town of Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia and patronise the many businesses named after the town’s most famous feature. You could drive along Pink Lake Road, head into the Pink Lake Butcher and stay at the Pink Lake caravan park. There was even a Pink Lake laundromat.
The names original came about because of the lake with the 1.9-mile circumference close to the town which, in the right weather conditions, turns a shade of soft pink due to the high concentration of algae in the water. Originally known as Spencer Lake, it soon became Pink Lake.
However, changes in the local eco-system in recent years mean the saline conditions needed to support the particular algae responsible for the rosy hue are no longer active, meaning the lake itself no longer looks out of the ordinary. All of which means it is the perfect to visit the area and see the lake in anaemic state before plans to fix the problem are put in place and the pink colour returns.
Let your hair down at Milaa Milaa Falls
If the Milaa Milaa Falls look instantly familiar, it’s because a certain shampoo commercial was filmed there many years ago. It’s easy to see why the location was chosen – this is natural beauty at its best and you’ll soon understand why these falls are some of the most photographed anywhere in Australia. Surrounded by lush forest, these spectacular falls cascade down in a deep waterfall where you can enjoy a refreshing swim or recreate the iconic hair washing scene.
As with most remote locations in Australia, wildlife is something of a concern but at Milaa Milla the animals are of a slightly furrier variety than elsewhere. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of platypus swimming near the waterhole, so don’t forget to bring your camera.
Messing about on the river
From riverside parks and meandering streams to lakeside beaches and huge lagoons that are home to a giddying array of wildlife, the winding rivers and waterways of Victoria are an idyllic backdrop from which to view some of the most iconic attractions in Melbourne. Head towards the Murray River, the waterway that separates Victoria from New South Wales, and you’ll soon see that it’s as popular with boating enthusiasts as it is with fishermen, golfers and walkers.
Victoria is also where you’ll find the most extensive river and lake system anywhere in Australia. In Gippsland, to the east of the state, you’ll find two major areas for boating that offer marine adventures for all, regardless of your level of experience. The Gippsland lakes cover 400 sq kms of sheltered waterways and extend to the town of Paynesville through a network of canals know as Riviera Harbours.
No matter where you have based yourself in Australia, there are so many options for you to experience the great outdoors, and wild swimming in particular. Always take your time to research whether it is safe for you to swim in certain waterways. Do not rely on the fact that other people are doing it, so you can too – they may have got it wrong!