Brisbane is perfect for exploring year-round. Most Queenslanders seek out the spots with a body of water to allow them to cool down. These are some of the best natural places to explore nature and have a swim.
#1 Gardner’s Falls, Maleny
Good for: Groups, Thrill-seekers
Bad for: People seeking privacy
Gardner’s Falls, located just over an hour from Brisbane, is one of the best natural swimming holes on the Sunshine Coast. The falls used to be a secret but it has since been discovered by the outside world.
To get to the falls you walk along a small creek until you eventually reach a large natural swimming pool. Despite the creek looking dry, the pool is always deep and has a waterfall constantly trickling into it. Lining the banks is usually families and groups that are all there to enjoy the water and have a bit of fun. Teenagers swing from the two rope swings, trying to impress their mates whilst younger children jump off the rocks that are closer to the water.
#2 Cedar Creek, Brisbane
Good for: Quick drive, Privacy
Bad for: Reliable water
There are a handful of different Cedar Creeks around Brisbane but this one is the one that doesn’t appear first on Google Maps. For that reason it is often devoid of families and large groups of people, as long as you go to the end of Cedar Creek Road in Samford.
There is barbed wire to keep people out so be wary as you slip under them. Don’t worry this place gets plenty of Brisbanites coming for the day so the locals are used to a few people. There is no track to the creek but you will eventually find signs that point towards Cedar Creek Falls where you can rest for the day. The area relies heavily on rainfall so make sure you go after a deluge or else you may struggle to find a good spot to swim.
#3 Killarney Glen, Gold Coast
Good for: Instagram pics
Bad for: Privacy
Killarney Glen, like Sydney’s Figure-Eight Rock Pool, is Instagram fodder for many adventurers. The perfect heart-shaped pool is the only direct way into the falls and you may have to wait your turn on a busy day to get a perfect shot of you swimming in the pool. The heart-shaped pool leads into a winding jade creek which is perfect for a paddle.
If you are after a change of page, then follow the water downstream. There are further pools to explore, more jumps to do and regardless of the day you can find some seclusion. Be aware though, the Glen only just re-opened after a man tragically died there late last year. However, it is still a safe place to swim as the many tourists that flock there yearly will tell you.
#4 Wappa Falls, Yandina
Good for: Exploring, Privacy
Bad for: N/A
As close to private as you are likely to find on the Sunshine Coast. Even in Summer this spot is not often visited by throngs of people and you can enjoy a peaceful dip to yourself. The Falls are located near the large Wappa Dams where it is not advised that you swim. If it is a picnic you are after though stay here with the rest of the groups that will be doing the same. However, if you are here to swim then follow the walk through the bush to Wappa Falls.
The falls runs into a cool, deep swimming pool that can be cold even on a warm day. If you are more ambitious, then keep following the trail where the pools get deeper. You can jump off the main waterfall into the deep pool but as always be cautious as there can be hidden dangers.
#5 Elabana Falls, Lamington National Park
Good for: A walk, privacy, photo ops
Bad for: Quick Visit
Elbana Falls are just a small part of a series of falls and swimming holes that run along the Canungra Creek in Lamington National Park. It is an 8km round trip so make sure you take plenty of water and food. The walk itself is easy though with plenty of water to refresh yourself along the way. There are plenty of other longer walks in the Lamington Park area, including Mirror Falls which is a 20km round trip. And a handful of spectacular views for you to gaze out at in the name of a wonderful photo.
Elbana though is one of the easiest walks and the most spectacular along the Box Forest Circuit. Due to the walk and distance from Brisbane it is rarely busy. The best way to do it though is to camp overnight in the National Park and make it one part of a whole weekend trip.
Image source: Panoramio, Wandering Quills, AWOL Family, Australian Adventures, Buzzfeed.