When the mercury rises this summer, leave the city behind and head for the hills. Nothing completes a hike through the rainforest like a relaxing swim in a cool, clear swimming hole surrounded by nature. Round up some friends, pack some refreshing Lipton Ice Tea, and hit the road. If hiking isn’t your scene, fear not. There are also beautiful, historic dams just outside the city where you can skip the hike and take a dip in the calm waters and just laze around on the grass in the sunshine.
Before you head off for an outback adventure, always check for closures and fire bans on the Queensland Government website and check the air quality rating. Extreme weather conditions and catastrophic bushfires have led to the closures of many national parks in recent months.
Drive west out of town for ten minutes and then it’s an easy 3km walk from the carpark to the falls via the Eugenia Circuit, which twists and turns its way up the hill alongside Ithaca Creek. While the effort is minimal, the reward is epic. Not only do you get to take a dip in the crisp waters once you reach the top of the hill, there’s plenty of pretty birdlife to greet you along the way, and an amazing view of the city to boot.
Head through quaint Samford Village, just half an hour out of Brisbane. When you reach the fairy-tale castle bridge crossing the creek, you’ll know you’ve almost arrived at this magical swimming spot. The further you walk along the creek through picturesque surrounds, the more enchanted it gets, with numerous swimming holes to choose from, both shallow and deep. Look out for the rope swing, and take a daring plunge for the ultimate summer fun. Don’t forget to pack refreshments.
Brisbane’s oldest reservoir dates back to the mid-1800s, when it was the city’s main water source. These days it’s a favourite destination for friends and family to catch up for picnics. Soak up the sunshine, splash around in the cool, calm water, laze around on the nearby grassy banks, or explore one of the bushwalking tracks through the D’Aguilar National Park. The Araucaria Track (a 5km circuit) is an easy shaded path which follows the water’s edge and has a few strategically placed benches where you can rest and take in the view. Best of all, this beautiful, natural oasis is only a 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre.
This secluded swimming spot involves a bit of a trek, but what a gorgeous trek it is, taking you through 13km of sun-dappled bushland and lush rainforest, with quite a few creek crossings on the way to the falls. Be prepared to get your feet wet along the way. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the tracks around the falls. After taking a dip, make like a lizard and lounge on the sunny rock ledges beside the creek.
Back Creek Gorge has six waterfalls in all, so you’re spoilt for choice of crystal-clear waters nestled between the Lamington Plateau and Tamborine Mountain. Round up the crew and head for the hinterland to cool off. While you’re rock-hopping and enjoying the walking tracks, look out for monitor lizards sunning themselves on the rocks. You may even spot a wallaby or two if you’re lucky.
We’re spoiled for sunshine in the sunshine state, and a place to splash around in the great outdoors makes summer good times all the better.