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. Swimming at this spot is now banned by Parks Victoria after some drownings here in recent years. The drownings have been associated with spectators who are non-swimmers slipping in off the rocks, rather than people deliberately swimming here. 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 my photo below), and it was definitely my favourite swim in the Grampians. Since the ban, if you enter the water, unfortunately you are risking a fine and probably wouldn't be covered by insurance if you injured yourself, so just stick to solid ground and enjoy the falls as they are without getting wet.
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?
Wow, someone died at Mackenzie falls last month?!
Due to the steep stairs and lack of phone reception it is incredibly hard for emergency services to make it there and even to be raised, if you were to have an accident there is no way ambulance Vic would cover you for going past signs saying no swimming. You would be up for a huge fine!
I understand it is inviting but please do not encourage people to swim there and potentially risk the lives of ambulance workers, or take the service away from someone who really needs it.
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.