10 waterholes and waterfalls in Southern Queensland Country
Sand and surf aren’t the only stars of summer. If you want to escape the holiday frenzy at the local pool or beach, consider cooling off at these 10 waterfalls and waterholes in Southern Queensland Country.
Amidst the lush green hills, farms and national parks near Toowoomba, Stanthorpe and Crows Nest, are some of the state’s most refreshing, secluded and frankly jaw-dropping swimming spots.
1. Coomba Falls, Maidenwell
No matter what season, the deep natural swimming hole at Coomba Falls stays icy cold almost all year round. Not to mention, it’s a ridiculously picturesque spot to boot, set underneath dramatic granite cliffs.
Pack a picnic and set yourself up on the large grassy patch next to the waterhole and lap up this rocky oasis. It’s a beautiful mix of sunny spots and dappled shade, so pick the right spot and stay all day.
How to get there: Follow Coomba Falls Road from Maidenwell and arrive at the gravel carpark in less than 10 minutes. The falls are a short walk down sturdy stairs.
2. Pools in Crows Nest National Park, Crows Nest
While the actual Crows Nest Falls waterhole is now closed off, you can still cool down at The Cascades Pool, Kauyoo Pool and Bottlebrush Pool nestled in Crows Nest National Park.
Follow the signs along the 2.7km walking track to reach The Cascades Pool and Kauyoo Pool first. At both waterholes, you’ll find a sandy ‘rainforest’ beach with easy access to shallow water – great for little one to splash in.
If you’re more of a keen swimmer, keep going until you reach Bottlebrush Pool. The biggest waterhole of the three is deep enough for a decent dip underwater (especially if you’re coming in off the swinging rope).
Be careful on the steps leading down to the creek, as they get slippery when wet. Keep an eye out for brush-tailed wallabies popping up as they make their way through the granite hills and boulders.
How to get there: From Crows Nest follow Albert Street, which then turns into Three Mile Road, before turning right 5km to Crows Nest National Park. Follow the signs to each of the pools.
3. Girraween National Park, Ballandean
Need a technology detox? Spend a day (or days if you choose to camp) off the grid when you explore the freezing but oh-so-refreshing rock pools and waterholes near Castle Rock and Bald Rock Creek at Girraween National Park. Check first however; during times of little rainfall and low water levels, Bald Rock Creek can be temporarily closed for swimming to help protect the vulnerable Bell’s turtle population.
If you need to work up a bit of a sweat beforehand, you’ve got 30 kilometers of walking tracks to choose from. Girraween means “place of flowers”, so a visit in springtime will see a kaleidoscope of colourful wildflowers accent the blouders and outcrops.
How to get there: Follow the New England Highway south of Ballandean before turning left on Pyramids Road. You can park at either the information centre, or Bald Rock Creek day-use area.
4. Dalrymple Creek, Goomburra Section of Main Range National Park, Goomburra
Swing from a tyre and make friends with the locals (that is, cows roaming the grounds) at the beautiful swimming spots dotted along Dalrymple Creek in the Goomburra Section of the Main Range National Park.
Access is only via the various campgrounds of the area, but if you’re not staying the night, grab a visitor’s day pass from Janowen Hills and Gordon Country (who also have exclusive access to the stunning Banshee Creek). Drive straight on through to set yourself up on the grassy patches for a day of lazing and grazing.
How to get there: Head towards the Goomburra Section of Main Range National Park, then follow the directions from your chosen campground.
Day Pass Information: Janowen Hills – $15 per 2WD and $25 per 4WD; Gordon Country – $10 per car and $30 per car if you want to 4WD
SWIMMING AND FISHING
5. Storm King Dam, Stanthorpe
Set in Granite Belt Wine Country, the powerfully-named Storm King Dam isn’t just heaven for fishermen (though golden perch, murray cod, silver perch, jew and river black fish are plentiful). If you’re after a languid summer’s day escape, it has everything you need.
You’ll find prime spots for swimming and watersports, a playground for little ones, and wood barbeques and picnic tables when you’re ready to tuck into a midday feast.
(Note: Camping is not permitted, and a permit is required for powerboats at no cost).
How to get there: Find Storm King Dam just 10 kilometres southeast of Stanthorpe on the road to Eukey.
6. Lee’s Reserve, Dumaresq River, Goondiwindi
Swathes of shade, pet-friendly… and free camping? Lee’s Reserve has got all you need to truly reconnect with nature this summer.
The secluded swimming spot also offers plentiful fishing and wildlife watching. There’s nothing like sharing the water with a friendly pelican or two.
(Note: The site has no facilities, so campers will need to come prepared, including firewood and drinking water. It’s also more suited to campers with 4WD if you want the full riverside experience, especially following a major weather event).
How to get there: From Goondiwindi travel east along Marshall Street till you reach the large roundabout. Take the Border Rivers Tourist Dr Exit (Old Warwick Rd) 29km out to the site.
7. Lake Leslie, Warwick
One of Queensland’s most popular freshwater fishing and camping destinations, Lake Leslie is an ideal spot for a refreshing dip and watersports alike. There’s no waterfall here, but an amazingly calm lake perfect for anything from a serene swim through to adrenaline-pumping activities. Gather the tubes and kayaks, and get the jetski in tow for this one.
How to get there: From Warwick travel on the New England Highway before turning onto Leslie Dam Road.
No swimming, but go anyway
While you can’t exactly take a dip in the next three waterholes or waterfalls in Southern Queensland Country, they’re still worth a mention: not only beautiful, they boast plenty of other things for you to do and see.
8. Queen Mary Falls, Killarney
Did you know that Queen Mary Falls is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area? This listing internationally recognises the natural values of this unique landscape, having provided refuge to species for millions of years.
That alone is enough reason to journey to this pot of gold at the end of a country-drive rainbow. Oh, and the views of the falls down from the lookout and up from the base of the creek will make you catch your breath in wonder.
How to get there: Follow this road trip itinerary.
9. Lake Cooby, Toowoomba
Fish. Sail. Canoe. Repeat. While you might not be able to go swimming at Lake Cooby, you’ll find there are plenty of other soul-refreshing water activities to keep you occupied. Plus, some great picnic and BBQ facilities for a lazy long lunch afterwards.
How to get there: Travel north approximately 35km from Toowoomba along the New England Highway and look for the turnoff to your left at Highfields.
10. Valley of Diamonds, Crows Nest National Park
If you’ve planned a stop at the pools in Crows Nest National Park, why not work up a sweat first with a walk to the summit of Koonin Lookout. There, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the deeper sparkling gorge known as Valley of Diamonds as it disappears into the rolling hills around Ravensbourne.
How to get there: Follow the signs to Koonin Lookout at the start of Crows Nest National Park.
Please undertake swimming in waterholes, dams and rivers at your own risk. Use caution, check water depth, never dive into waterholes, dams or rivers as they may be shallow or rocky; never leave children unattended and be wary of fast flowing currents.
Note: some of these locations have been affected by bush fires and weather events. Check the Queensland park alerts page for up-to-date information about closures, access and conditions.