As rainfall increases across the North West, watering holes have reappeared and are nearly ready for locals to cool off. We interviewed 20 locals to get their insight on the top swimming holes around the region, some are off the beaten track while some are easily accessible. Here is our list:
1: The Gregory
Gregory Downs is a very small community, situated on the banks of the Gregory River which is too beautiful to pass by. The wide sandy banks and cool clear water makes this on of the nicest places to sit and appreciate the natural beauty of the Gulf Savannah.
The Gregory is 446km north of Mount Isa via Cloncurry- partly sealed.
2: Adels Grove and Lawn Hill
Adels Grove is adjacent to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park and provides gorgeous spring-fed waterways. If you don’t feel like swimming leisurely cruises through the gorge are provided or you can hire a canoe and explore the gorge yourself.
Adels Grove is situated about 293km north-east of Mount Isa past Riversleigh Station through O’Shannassy and Gregory Rivers and past Riversleigh Fossil Fields. Partly sealed road but a 4WD is recommended as there are three concrete causeways over rivers that can be slippery.
3: Lake Moondarra
Lake Moondarra is good for swimming, water sports, fishing, kayaking, boating and picnicking. Only 20-kilometres north of Mount Isa’s CBD it is easily accessible for a day trip with the family, by a sealed road.
4: Fountain Springs
Begin at the Fountain Springs rest area on the highway and follow on from the track to Ballara, passing by the Corella River and the site of the old Ballara township, to Fountain Springs - a permanent waterhole with abundant birdlife.
Continue the circuit through Ballara and onto Hightville and Wee McGregor Mine. The Fountain Springs Circuit is about 40 kilometres long and requires a 4WD vehicle.
5: Three Steps
The Three Steps is three large rock formations that sit in ridges cascading towards the ground. After heavy waterfall it is a popular place to visit to see the flow of the water down the rock and take in the picturesque scenery surrounding The Steps.
Accessible by 4WD, drive along Moondarra Road, turn down the bitumen road on the right after the first cattle grid towards the quarry and you'll see a sign about 1 - 2 km down on the right hand side for Three Steps. (it's called Three Sisters on the sign).
6: East Leichhardt Dam
East Leichhardt Dam otherwise known as Lake Mary Kathleen is a cool spot to relax for the weekend. Access by 4WD only makes it restricted to some travellers but is a great spot to go for a swim, watersports and fishing. East Leichhardt turn off is located 33-kilometres east of Mount Isa and an additional 30 minutes off road.
7: Clem Walton Park
Clem Walton Park is breathtakingly beautiful, you can camp right along the rivers edge and there are trees for shade if you require it. The birdlife is amazing as is the peace and tranquility. Corella Dam is a nice spot to cool off as the water is entrapped by the wall. The dam was built to supply the former mining town of Mary Kathleen.
Clem Walton Park is situated 69km east of Mount Isa heading towards Cloncurry. The entry road is sealed.
8: Rigby Falls
The Falls cascade down seven levels of rock formations and are a popular sight to both swim in and view after a heavy rainfall has occurred.
Rigby Falls is located on the Mount Frosty Trek and is considered to be a higher level of difficulty leading up to the Falls as it encompasses steep hills, large rock formations and rough surfaces. This track would be suitable for a seasoned 4W driver and could take a bit longer for those who are new to the 4WD experience.
9: Porcupine Gorge National Park
Known as Australia’s ‘Little Grand Canyon’ with its cool, clear, flowing, towering cliffs of vibrant coloured sandstone and dense vegetation. The Gorge can be appreciated from the lookout or intermittent waterholes.
Porcupine Gorge is located approximately an hours drive north of Hughenden.
10: Lake Julius
Lake created to provide water for local irrigation, and back-up Moondarra as a water supply for Mount Isa’s considerable domestic and mining demands. The Lake’s recreational value is officially rated as secondary, but is nonetheless important. Lake Julius is known for its fishing but is a nice spot to pull into for a dip.
Lake Julius is 80km north of Mount Isa.