When searching for mineral springs in Victoria, most people look to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. But did you know that some awe-inspiring bathing experiences can be found three hours southwest of Melbourne in Warrnambool? Make your way to Deep Blue Hot Springs and you'll find an open-air sanctuary comprising 15 different bathing experiences, all harnessing the power of an ancient water source called the Dilwyn Aquifer.
This aquifer reaches depths of 850 meters below the Earth's surface, and it's here that the water reaches a natural temperature of 36 to 42 degrees Celsius. Rich in minerals like sulphur, selenium, silica, lithium and magnesium, the water passes through those hundreds of metres of prehistoric rock and earth layers to fill the springs at Deep Blue.
We already know baths are relaxing in and of themselves, so how does bathing in mineral-rich water improve that experience? According to Deep Blue, bathing in geothermal water is associated with increased heart rate and hydrostatic pressure, which leads to your cells becoming oxygenated and a boost in circulation; stimulation to the metabolism, which aids in digestion; expanded blood vessels, which relieves tension and relaxes tired muscles; and improved sleep quality.
If your ears perked up at the sound of those benefits, then here's what you need to know to get started on your journey at Deep Blue. Bathing sessions start at $33 for the early rise session (8am-10am), $46 for the morning (11am-1.30pm) or afternoon (2.30pm-5pm) sessions and $57 for the adults-only twilight session that runs from 6pm to 9pm. Wear appropriate bathing attire and footwear (non-slip sandals or thongs are ideal), and BYO towel and robe or hire them for $5 and $10, respectively. Lockers are also available to hire for $6.
During your session, you'll have free use of all the baths in the sanctuary. Some of the available experiences include a foot spa with heated and gentle bubbling jets; an aromatherapy pool with diffused essential oils; cold plunge pools at 12-15 degrees Celsius; sensorial caves with pink, yellow or purple colour therapy; and shallow bathing rockpools. There's even a rainforest pool inspired by the nearby Otways featuring a tropical shower and ambient music.
Two to three hours is quite a long time to spend bathing, so if you want to take a breather, you can sit on beanbags on the lawn or on basalt basking stones in the Moonstone Garden. Sit back and relax before making your way back into the warm, soothing waters. And if you need a refreshment, there are water fountains scattered around the premises and food and beverages – including barista-made coffees – are available for purchase at the Nourish Dome.
There's a digital clock pinned up that lets you know how much time you have remaining, and when you're ready to wrap up, you can make your way back inside and make use of the showers (remember to BYO toiletries) and dry spinners for your bathers or wet garments.
If you're keen to book a session, visit the Deep Blue website. And to really up the ante on your experience, for $25 you can add a salt therapy session to your booking. With this gentle respiratory therapy, you'll be seated in a modern salt room where you'll inhale dry salt particles designed to help clean the airways.