Guide to Townsville’s Best Freshwater Swimming Holes

picture of one of townsville's freshwater swimming holes
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The summer months in North Queensland (November-April) can really sort the men out from the boys. Even the locals can find the high levels of humidity difficult to cope with. However, the sweaty weather also makes this the perfect time of year to explore the region’s cool and stunning freshwater swimming holes and creeks.

Since Townsville is located in the dry tropics it is prone to droughts, which obviously causes many of the creeks to run dry. Most are best visited after rainfall but some always have sufficient water for swimming.

Most of the freshwater swimming holes near Townsville are in Paluma Range National Park, which is a favourite with locals because it is at a higher altitude than the coast so the temperature is a little cooler.

Here are some of our favourite swimming holes around Townsville:

1. bluewater creek

About 40 kms north of Townsville, take the turn left off the Bruce Highway at Forestry Road into Bluewater Park.

You will notice a crocodile warning sign as you enter (crocs do inhabit this creek further down towards the ocean).

The creek runs under the bridge and along the camping area. You’ll find the swimming hole underneath the bridge.

After rain its an idyllic spot with amazingly blue water surrounded by reeds and water grasses.

2. Paradise Waterhole – Big Crystal Creek

paradise waterholeAbout 70 kms north of Townsville, this is probably the best and most reliable swim hole near Townsville.

It is a large freshwater swimming hole with plenty of space for larger groups of people to swim alongside the turtles and fish.

To get there, turn off the Bruce Highway to Paluma and then turn into Spiegelhauer Road.

This is a camping area so there are toilets and picnic facilities.

3. Rockslides – Big Crystal Creek

A little bit further on from Paradise Waterhole there is another great place to cool off.

When you get there, you’ll find a natural waterslide made up of a series of short slides over slick mossy rocks that shoot you down into pools. It is an excellent place to spend a hot summer’s day.

It is about 10 minutes from the gate up the road from the camping area. It is quite steep in parts.

4. Little Crystal Creek

Paluma Park bridgeIf you venture further up the range into Paluma you will come to this very popular freshwater swimming hole on the road before you get to Paluma village.

It is very distinctive because it features a picturesque stone arch bridge, which was constructed manually in the early 1930’s during the Depression.

It is a beautiful spot to sit on the rocks and dangle your feet in the cool water.

5. Lake Paluma

This is a beautiful spot for a swim.

The lake is surrounded by World Heritage Listed Rainforest so there is a chance of spotting  wildlife such as platypus, peregrine falcons or eastern water dragons.

You get there by driving through the village of Paluma and then following a 12-kilometre gravel road. Make sure you have sufficient petrol before you leave the Bruce Highway because there isn’t a petrol station in Paluma.

6. Jourama Falls

swim hole at jourama fallsA little bit further along, about 90 kms north of Townsville, you will come across signs for Jourama.

It is still within the Paluma Range National Park and easily accessible from the Bruce Highway.

Fringed by rainforest, Waterview Creek tumbles down many picturesque cascades and rapids.

Swimming spots and breathtaking views can be found along the 3 km return walking track that winds along the creek and down into the rainforest before climbing above the gorge.

The parking area has toilet and picnic facilities.

7. Alligator Creek

Alligator Creek is about 20 kms south of Townsville in Bowling Green Bay National Park. The creek flows between two rocky mountain groups – Mount Elliot and Saddle Mountain.

The swimming hole is cool and refreshing about 5 kms along Alligator Creek Rd.

The park has toilets, picnic and camping facilities. If you’re lucky you might also see rock wallabies.

8. Keelbottom Creek

Just off Hervey Range Developmental Road, about 30 kms west of Townsville, this is a popular bush swimming and camping spot. This swimming hole is at its best after a good wet season.

9. Rollingstone Creek

rollingstone creekRollingstone Creek is about 60 kms north of Townsville. Take a right off the highway and then keep following the road along the bridge to Bushy Parker Park.

This is a popular spot with an attractive kid friendly freshwater swimming hole and creek area.

The park has toilet, picnic and camping facilities.

10. Cardwell Spa Pools (2 hours north of Townsville)

If you’re roadtripping north to Cairns, This is a little bit further away but a good place to stop on a road trip north to Cairns. Take the Cardwell Forest Drive and you’ll find lots of great picnic spots beside waterfalls and swim holes.

travel nq fast facts:

  • Take insect spray with you when you go to these swimming holes to keep mozzies and march flies at bay
  • Take extra care in NQ’s freshwater swimming holes and creeks in the wet season – surging water levels can be dangerous for swimmers and rocks are slippery
  • For non-locals, keep an eye out for crocodile warning signs before jumping into any water, especially near coastal estuaries. All of the above are safe areas to swim – crocodiles don’t travel inland uphill. Check for croc safety signs and ask locals if you’re not sure.

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