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Ovens River at Porepunkah Riverside Park
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria


 
A small weir backs up the flow to create a long, deep pool for swimming in the Ovens River, including a lifesaving service and a toddler pool in the playground. Due to its length, depth and current, the Porepunkah River Pool is well suited to swimmers seeking exercise. During my visit in mid-summer, I was able to swim gradually against the current, turning a 100 metre swim into what felt like a 200 metre swim, in terms of the effort and number of strokes required to cover the distance. If you train against this current, you can feel a sense of acceleration in your swimming when returning back to a normal, municipal swimming pool. The jetty at Porepunkah Riverside Park Above: The jetty at Porepunkah Riverside Park (Order this image, photo gifts or prints)

You can enter the water at any location along the bank at the riverside park, upstream of the weir. Whilst you can step into shallow water in some sections, be mindful that the water can become deep quite quickly in parts, particularly near the jetty. I was also surprised at how warm the water was for an alpine river, and at the height of summer, you can easily swim without a wetsuit. Provided you can steer your craft back towards the bank well before you reach the weir, you can float along the river on an inflatable for a long distance, before getting out and walking back along the grassy foreshore to do it all again. Stay away from the middle of the river and the opposite bank to avoid the swiftest currents. A lifesaving service operates on summer afternoons on the weekend, and during the Christmas to New Year period, so schedule for swims at these times to reduce your swimming risks. As with any river swim, river flows can speed up quickly after rainfall, so this swim is best in summer, when it has not rained for at least a few days. The flow is quite reliable well into Autumn, even if it has not rained much over summer. At the downstream end, a set of flags in the water warn you about the weir wall, so make sure you swim well away from that area.

This swim is also popular with dog owners, and I shared my most recent swim with an exuberant canine swimmer who was able to reach the middle of the river before turning back to the bank. The dog was on a lead, but had left its owner back on the bank to fly into the water. The toddler pool at Porepunkah Riverside Park Above: The toddler pool at Porepunkah Riverside Park (Order this image, photo gifts or prints)

The toddler pool is located next to the playground. It is only small, but it is shaded and has a few steps around the rim. When I was visiting, the local council was refilling the pool with clean water. The park itself has a modern playground, plenty of lawn, shade and barbecue facilities, and would lend itself well to a picnic.

Here is a video of my swim in the Porepunkah River Pool, which was filmed in mid summer, which includes a cameo in the water from one of the local puppies.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Riverside Park, Nicholson St, Porepunkah, 315 km (approx. 3 hr 30 mins drive) north east of the Melbourne CBD
Latitude:-36.699504 Longitude:146.910020
Getting there: Take the Hume Fwy (M31) to Wangaratta then the Great Alpine Road (B500) to Porepunkah. In Porepunkah, turn left into Nichoslon St just before reaching the Ovens River bridge. Riverside Park is on your right immediately after entering Nicholson St.
Facilities: Car park, picnic tables (sheltered and unsheltered), rubbish bins, public toilets, jetty, playground, toddler pool, bike path, bags for dog droppings. Lifesaving service operates when flags are displayed in the afternoon on peak season weekends and over the Christmas to New Year period.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild to cold
Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Pebbles, silt

Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced. Inexperienced swimmers can enjoy the toddler pool or wade near the edge under supervision in the water, under low flow conditions, noting however that the water gets deeper quicker here than at some other locations along the Ovens River.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: Dogs are permitted but must be on a leash. No horse riding or motorbikes on the bike path. No camping. No alcohol from 10 pm to 7 am. No diving, no bombing, no jumping. All children must be actively supervised. No smoking and no alcohol at the playground. No fishing.
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Always open. Lifesaving service only operates during peak swimming times.
Wheelchair access: Yes to the car park and river bank. The jetty has steps and the bank leading down to the water has about a half metre drop, so access to the water is not straight forward.
Accommodation Options: Camping is not permitted at Porepunkah Riverside Park. If you are wanting to stay overnight near this swimming hole, the Porepunkah Pub has accommodation directly across the road from the riverside park. Alternatively there is a wide range available for both accommodation in Porepunkah and accommodation in Bright, which is 9 km further up the Great Alpine Road.
Managing authority: Alpine Shire Council.
Nearby attractions: Swimming in at Nimmo Bridge in Myrtleford, also on the Ovens River, 25 km downstream.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. Specific to this site, the managing authority offers the following general warnings that there are slippery rocks, shallow water, drop offs in the water, deep water and strong currents. All children must be actively supervised.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park in the riverside park.
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