Ahh! The humble pool noodle! The cylindrical, colourful piece of buoyant foam. On our road trip, there have been a number of occasions where the pool noodle has transformed a beautiful waterhole into something truly magical. Of course, a pool noodle can be used in any waterbody as a flotation device. The best, in my opinion is for swimming in a beautiful location, where the pool noodle, eliminates the need to physically keep oneself afloat. You can then drift along, enjoying the serenity and the magnificent surroundings. This is particularly useful in fresh water situations where you have less buoyancy than in salt water.
Here is a list of stunning places around Australia where you should not forget your pool noodle! Float away, chillax, feel the serenity and marvel at the scenery. This list is not in any particular order because honestly, I could not order them. They are all truly special places!
ORMISTON GORGE, TJORITJA / WEST MACDONNELL NATIONAL PARK, NT
In this part of Australia, you are almost certainly going to be hot, hot, hot! Cool off with a refreshing swim in Ormiston Gorge. In fact, take care, some parts are so cold, you can get hypothermia! Lay back with your pool noodle and look at the sculptural, red rock bordering this swimming spot. Feel special because the vast majority of people in this world will never get remote enough to enjoy this unique place.
LAKE ARGYLE, NEAR KUNUNURRA, WA
For a closer look at Lake Argyle and the dam, head to Lake Argyle Resort. Bear in mind, despite the vastness of the lake from the various vantage points in this area, the actual lake is much, much bigger and cannot be seen in it’s totality from the ground. From the resort there are walking trails that take you down to Lake Argyle where you can swim. There are freshwater crocodiles in the lake but there are much more timid when compared to their saltwater counterparts.
LELIYN (EDITH FALLS), NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK, NT
In this delightful spot, there is a huge waterbody and a waterfall at the far end. Despite how hot the climate is, the water feels almost too cold when you first get in. It’s quite a long swim to get a closer look at the waterfall but don’t worry, you have your pool noodle to make the journey easier!
EMMA GORGE AT EL QUESTRO, WA
Venturing out from Kununurra, it is worth making a day trip to Emma Gorge. This is the only site in the El Questro area readily accessible to 2WD. The hike to the waterhole takes about an hour and is quite rugged in parts. It’s worth it for the spectacular landscape on the way as well as the magical, cool, waterhole. Coming upon this beautiful waterhole at Emma Gorge makes the sweaty hike worthwhile. Swimming is OK in the cool, refreshing waters of the waterhole but beware a resident freshwater crocodile! To the right most side of the waterhole is a small thermal spring which is lovely if the water is getting too cold for you.
KATHERINE HOT SPRINGS, KATHERINE, NT
These natural thermal springs are within the town of Katherine. They are a lovely spot to relax after a long day of driving or sightseeing.
THE GROTTO, WYNDHAM, WA
On the way to Wyndham, a “must see” stop is The Grotto. There is a hike down of 144 steps to get to a gorgeous, refreshing swimming hole. This is really a special place!
ELLERY CREEK BIG HOLE, TJORITJA / WEST MACDONNELL NATIONAL PARK, NT
This is a spectacular waterhole. Imagine swimming, dwarfed by these immense red cliffs towering over you on either side. Float around with your pool noodle and ponder our minuscule existence against geological time!
BITTER SPRINGS, ELSEY NATIONAL PARK, MATARANKA, NT
Firstly, the picture below, does not do this location justice. It’s far more beautiful, if you can be believe it. The water is crystal clear and naturally, an unbelievable shade of blue-green. The waterhole is shaped like a “L” with a gentle current flowing in one direction. It’s a hot spring so the water is a lovely temperature. The thing to do is to get in at one end and drift gently downstream with the current. As you drift along, admire the scenery in the dappled light filtered through the palm fronds on either side. When you reach the other end, get out, and walk back to the start and float gently downstream again! Repeat! Bliss!
This spot can get busy so if you are after that perfect photograph, best to select an off-peak time to visit.
BERRY SPRINGS NATURE PARK, NT
At the start, I said I could not order the places but I didn’t say that I couldn’t pick a favourite!! My favorite place to take my pool noodle is the waterholes at Berry Springs Nature Park. This gorgeous spot is only a 40 minute drive from Darwin CBD. Take a picnic and your pool noodle. There are toilet facilities. This place does not allow swimming in the wet season due to crocodiles but as dry season approaches, the rangers trap them and open the waterhole when it is deemed safe. Check on their website to confirm they are open before driving over.
Make a day of it by visiting Territory Wildlife Park to see some local wildlife. My hot tip if you do visit this park is to attend all the daily talks and presentations. They are all excellent and in particular, the bird show is sensational! You can also visit Crazy Acres nearby for some locally made mango icecream using locally grown mangoes! End your busy day with a nice meal at Berry Springs Tavern or Darwin River Tavern. Both are very good.
In Berry Springs Nature Park, there are three areas to swim. There are 2 large pools and a smaller section with a waterfall. There are steps or a ladder to enter each of these sections. The areas can be quite busy on weekends or school holidays. You can enter into any one of these sections and swim or float to the other sections. There are so many stiflingly hot and humid days in this part of Australia that the cooling effect of getting into the water is simply divine! It’s such a special spot and with your pool noodle, you won’t have to work on staying afloat. You can just take it all in!
Do you know any super special secret waterholes? Care to share?