What’s the point of going to Australia if you can’t swim in the sea? I’m sure many of us have asked ourselves that question when heading over to Queensland with the Great Barrier Reef in the north and Brisbane in the south in the middle of stinger season. Deadly jellyfish love the warm summer water in the ocean, and from October to May (just when those of us from Europe need the sun the most) they stay close to the beaches in Queensland. In northern Queensland there are, above the stingers, also five meter-long salt water crocodiles, lying under the water just in front of the beaches waiting for you to dip your toes.
But to skip Queensland because you can’t swim in the sea without a top to toe stinger suit isn’t the option. Yes, it will be painful to stand on the beach and just watch that beautiful turquoise water without touching it. But Queensland is a real treasure when it comes to beautiful freshwater swimming holes, lakes and waterfalls. Stinger-free, Crocodile-free and Shark-free!
1) Mossman Gorge, South Daintree National Park
In the southern part of Daintree National Park, north of Cairns, you find Mossman Gorge. A beautiful lush area of rainforest surrounds the Mossman River and provides many opportunities for hikes and cooling wild swims. We found this swimming hole in the middle of the Rainforest Circuit Track, and there was even a small sandy beach in front of the little waterfall.
2) Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island
Since Fraser Island is in the south of Queensland, there’s usually no problems with stingers; instead you get people warning you not to swim in the sea due to sharks. But on Fraser Island this is no problem. As the world’s biggest sand island, it’s full of beautiful clear lakes and creeks and the most popular one – Lake McKenzie – is more of a paradise beach then any sea beach I ever been to. The crystal clear lake is made only from rain water, and the beach has incredible soft white sand.
3) Millaa Millaa Waterfall, Tablelands
When driving down from Cairns there’s an inland way you can take to get to the Tablelands Waterfall Circuit. On a 17 km loop you’ll see three amazing waterfalls, and if you go a little further you’ll find even more. This area is famous for its many scenic waterfalls and Millaa Millaa is probably the most beautiful one (you might recognise it from the Herbal Essences advert). A perfect relaxing swim spot before you continue your roadtrip down south.
4) Mason’s swimming hole, Cape Tribulation
Far north in Tropical Queensland, you find the remote region of Cape Tribulation, which has a beautiful mix of rainforest and beaches. This is as far north as you can get along Queensland’s east coast before you’ll need a 4WD car to get any further. With crocodile safaris all over the place, swimming in the sea is not an option. There are also crocs in some rivers – so you need to do your research carefully before you jump in the water. Mason’s is the local grocery store and behind the shop you can follow the path down to the swimming hole. Surrounded by jungle, the water goes all green and will give you a refreshing break before the next boardwalk hike in the rainforest.
5) Stony Creek Falls, 15 minutes from Cairns
If you’ve already done the Great Barrier Reef outside Cairns and still need a cooling dip during the tropical days of north Queensland, Stony Creek Falls is the perfect option if you don’t want to squeeze into the crowded pool by the harbor like everyone else. It’s only a 15 minute drive from Cairns, and it’s a really quiet and beautiful place to take a wild swim. Along the creek is a walking path and you can choose how far up towards the falls you want to go, but you’ll find amazing spots already at the beginning – so there’s no need to go far.
Where are your favorite freshwater swimming spots in Queensland? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!