Travelling in outback Australia often involves lengthy drives in soaring temperatures. What better way to wind down than by plunging yourself into one of the region’s many refreshing swimming spots?
Whether you prefer a cool dip and trip down memory lane at a nostalgic community pool or soothing aching muscles in warm, spa-like water sourced from Australia’s Great Artesian Basin, the outback swimming pool options may not be endless, but they’re definitely worth seeking out.
Planning your next Australian road trip based around outback pools and swimming holes is a great way to explore the country. Many of the best baths, gorges and community favourites are either in or directly on the way to the most popular tourist regions.
It was a tough job but we’ve whittled down the list of our favourite outback pools around Australia to 13 of the best.
1. Longitude 131, Yulara
If luxury in the outback is what you’re after, Longitude 131 is a must-visit.
At the most prestigious accommodation in Australia’s Red Centre, you’ll experience Uluru every night from the complete privacy of your own deck.
Capture unobstructed scenic views upon dipping in the lodge pool. (Image: Tourism NT/George Apostolidis)
In terms of swimming, the lodge’s pool is architecturally striking and worth lounging at, but it’s the Dune Pavilion that’s worth booking for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You’ll absolutely have seen Instagram pictures of its circular plunge pool, complete with uninterrupted views of the Uluru sunset.
Sip a glass of wine by the pool. (Image: Tourism NT/Julian Kingma)
2. Mataranka Thermal Pool, Mataranka
Just off the Stuart Highway you’ll find Mataranka, a small town famous for its thermal waters and swimming holes.
The Mataranka Thermal Pool is a refreshing stop-off on your way through to the Katherine region with its expansive gorges and waterfalls.
Start at Mataranka Homestead and take a short 100-metre walk through a canopy of Livistona palms filled with red flying foxes (you’ll either love or hate their deafening squeals and chirps) to the pool.
Soak in the tranquil waters of the Mataranka Thermal Pool. (Image: Tourism NT/Natalie Sum)
3. Ellery Creek Big Hole
While it’s not technically a pool, this swimming hole in the West MacDonnell Ranges, just 80 kilometres outside of Alice Springs is filled with water year-round, so it’s a guaranteed good time no matter the season.
Take a float with you and relax on the calm waters, then lounge under gum trees on the sandy shores.
Rugged cliffs surround the Ellery Creek Big Hole. (Image: Tourism NT/Daniel Tran)
4. Katherine Hot Springs
Another easily accessible, well-managed natural swimming pool, Katherine Hot Springs gets a mention due to its proximity to town.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, the regularly maintained pools are warm, surrounded by foliage natural shade and (most importantly) croc-free.
Dip in the clear waters of Katherine Hot Springs. (Image: Tourism NT/Kyle Hunter & Hayley Anderson)
5. Cunnamulla Pool, Cunnamulla
The best community pools in outback Australia are the ones that retain their heritage while meeting modern needs.
Cunnamulla’s local pool is easily one of the best – originally built in the 1960s, it still has its nostalgic facade and cheap entry prices (a $2 coin is all you’ll need) but offers lush, shaded grassy areas and a pristine 50-metre pool with seven lanes.
6. Innot Hot Springs, Atherton Tablelands
If you’re heading out to the Undara Lava Tubes along the Savannah Way in outback Queensland, make sure to stop in at Innot Hot Springs.
A small leisure park with two man-made pools fed by the spring waters, and a natural creek nearby, this is a perfect place to break up the long drive.
Drop by the Innot Hot Springs for a relaxing dip.
7. Python Pool, Millstream Chichester National Park
At the base of a seasonal waterfall in Millstream Chichester National Park, you’ll find the deep, cooling waters of Python Pool.
Contrary to its name, you won’t find pythons here (thankfully), but instead a picturesque swimming hole at the base of jagged red rocks.
Several walking trails lead from the pool, and there is a picnic area and barbecue facilities if you’re planning on spending the day. It’s worth noting that the dry season can lead to algae blooms and the area can be dangerous after rain.
Enjoy some alone time beneath the rugged landscape. (Image: Karratha City Council)
8. Fern Pool, Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park is a must-do in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, and while there are many beautiful gorges worth visiting for some wild swimming, Fern Pool is one of the most easily accessible and serene swimming holes for a quiet afternoon dip.
Fed by a natural spring, expect rainforest-like ferns and a cascading waterfall for a real-life relaxation soundtrack. Stay a few nights at Karijini Eco Retreat for easy access to the various gorges and swimming holes in the park.
A natural spring feeds the waterfall at Jubura (Fern Pool), Karijini National Park. (Image: Tourism WA)
New South Wales
9. Lightning Ridge Bore Bath, Lightning Ridge
The Great Artesian Basin runs from the tip of Queensland’s Cape York right down to the middle of New South Wales and South Australia, making it one of the largest underground water resources in the world.
It has provided water to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 60,000 years and continues to do so today.
The naturally warm waters under Lightning Ridge maintain a 41.5C temperature year-round, making this bore bath a spa-like experience, and one you can enjoy even during the winter months. Facilities include changing rooms and free entry.
Have a relaxing warm dip in the Artesian Bore Baths. (Image: Destination NSW)
10. Charles McCarron Baths, Canowindra
Just outside of the historical centre of Canowindra in the state’s Central West, and with slightly sloped shady spots to set up on your beach towels, this local pool is a lovely place to cool off in summer.
There are three pools – a main pool, a program pool and a lovely splash pad for the little ones – meaning everyone can enjoy some time in the sun.
11. Artesian Aquatic Centre, Moree
Moree is another town right on top of the Great Artesian Basin, so naturally, they’ve utilised those warm waters to fill a state-of-the-art aquatic centre.
Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre is a private wellness oasis. (Image: Destination NSW)
The kids will love the splash park, with its fountains and cool waters, and for those looking for a reprieve from aching muscles, there are in-water loungers you can settle into with a good book.
The waterpark caters to children and kids at heart. (Image: Destination NSW)
12. Coward Springs
Along the famous Oodnadatta Track, you’ll find a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turnoff for Coward Springs.
More of a plunge pool than somewhere for laps, it’s well worth the pit stop. For $2, you can relax in a small, wood-edged pool you’ll almost certainly have to yourself, surrounded by palm fronds and rustic wooden panelling.
Spend time with your kids while dipping in a small bore bath. (Image: Carly Kruger)
13. Dalhousie Springs
Way out on the edge of the Simpson Desert within Witjira National Park, you’ll find Dalhousie Springs, a remote series of pools fed by artesian waters.
There are actually 60 springs, but it’s the main pool that attracts the most attention, given its 38 degrees year-round and visually, looks like a shockingly blue oasis in the middle of outback SA.
Dalhousie Springs is filled with hot thermal water. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)