A water wonderland
Seven of the best natural swimming places in the Top End
ANDREW MEVISSEN WAVES of Australians are shunning concrete and chlorine for wilderness and waterfalls to take a dip.
Here are seven of the best wild swimming spots in the Top End of the Northern Territory.
Southern Rockhole, Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine
A beautiful waterfall that plummets into a gorge-cradled pool. A 4km walk with gorge views from the carpark and a 10-minute ferry boat trip back via Nitmiluk Gorge, best in March/April after the wet before it dries up.
‘The Swimming Hole’, Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine
This mysterious place doesn’t have an official name but that’s what local chopper pilots call it. It’s a remote and beautiful hideaway only accessed by joining a thrilling, two-hour adventure swim helicopter trip offered by Nitmiluk Tours, which will fly you over the gorge and land you at this deserted waterfall and lagoon that you can enjoy all by yourself.
Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine
North of Katherine, this idyllic pool is fringed by paperbark and tropical pandanas and is open most of the year, with camping and kiosk facilities. Best of all, it’s an easy stroll from the carpark, with a 2.6km loop walk taking you to an even more beautiful upper pool and waterfall.
Mataranka Thermal Pools, Mataranka
A little piece of paradise south of Katherine where warm, turquoise thermal pools soothe the muscles year-round, shaded by a jungle of palms. A must-stop place for a swim on the drive north.
Motor Car Falls, Kakadu National Park
This deep, little-known pool, fed by a majestic waterfall and hugged by cliffs and lush, monsoon forest, is a real find, offering a shady hideaway from the Top End heat. Accessed by a 7.5km return walk and usually available year-round.
Boulder Creek, Kakadu National Park
An easy 2km loop walk from the Motor Car Falls carpark takes you to a series of little, cascade-fed, crystalclear pools, each more beautiful than the next. They’re shaded by the jungle and you’ll likely have your favourite swimming hole all to yourself.
Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park
This natural infinity pool, offering sweeping vistas across Kakadu, is one of the Top End’s most magical swimming spots and has become an Insta hit with tourists around the world. There’s a bottom pool but a short, steep walk takes you to the spectacular upper pools and falls, which beg a luxurious dip while you admire the view. Best straight after the wet in April/May and arrive early in the day to soak up the serenity.
WORTH IT: Gunlom Falls at Kakadu is a must-see swimming spot – how about those views?