The Grampians is an oasis of clean, fresh water in the western districts of Victoria, with several excellent swimming holes. Here are my top three picks:
1. McKenzie Falls. This is a controversial one, because some non-swimmers have drowned here in recent years. The pool at the base of the falls looks invitingly refreshing after walking down the dozens of steps to reach it, but the water is also deceptively deep and the entry can be slippery. Prior to the drownings, people of all ages enjoyed swimming here (see photo below), but after the drownings, Parks Victoria have taken a heavy handed risk management approach and actively discourage swimming here. The glorious natural pool beneath these towering falls is still a favourite swimming hole for me, but make your own risk assessment and if you're not an experienced swimmer, stay out of the water and just admire it for the scenery.
2. Lake Bellfield. This large lake is easily accessible from the tourist centre of Halls Gap. For the best spot to swim, continue past the dam wall for around one kilometre to the Lake Bellfield Picnic Area, where there is a small designated swimming area with a gently sloping beach and a lawn area behind it. The water can be cold, but you will be rewarded with 360 degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges once you've cast yourself away from the shore.
3. Burrong Falls. Burrong Falls consists of a series of steps ranging from 1-5 m in height, but stretching more than 20 m in width. On the ledges of the larger steps are paddling pools that you can sit in and let the water fall on your head while your feet dangle over the edge of the next step. If you sit quietly, you are likely to see a few blue tongue lizards come out to bake themselves on the rocks.
Pick up a map from the friendly staff at the visitor centre in Halls Gap before heading out.
With regards to swimming at Mackenzie Falls, i am aware that there are no swimming signs but looking at the pictures it is so tempting to cool off at the base pool. My question is from your experience, would i be breaking any law or risk being fined or even told off by locals?
Hi Shaun, it's probably best to check with Parks Victoria (tel. 13 19 63) on the current status of Mackenzie Falls for swimming and your risk of prosecution. Ironically, there is a picture on the Parks Victoria website of someone sitting in the water at the base of the falls, which looks as equally inviting as my pics. When I was there mid last year, there was still some flood damage which made access to the base of the falls difficult - this will need to have been fixed to access the pool safely. Workers were on the site at the time, but it looked like a big job. If you end up going, it would be great if you could let me know via my website what the current conditions are.