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Vaughan Springs
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria


 
The river pool built across the Loddon River at Vaughan Springs is one of the few of its kind in Victoria. The pool wall spans the width of the river, backing up the water behind it for a considerable distance, hemmed in by a steep, rocky hill on one side. It's a lovely spot for floating in the water on your back, taking in the surrounding bush that rises up beside you, listening to the cicadas chirping in the searing heat all around. The rope swing in the Loddon River pool at Vaughan Springs Above: The rope swing in the Loddon River pool at Vaughan Springs (Order gifts or prints of this image)

For swimming, the pool is long but deceptively shallow at just on 2 metres at its deepest point, and waist deep in most places. The overhanging gum trees are great for some shade, and for supporting an unsantioned rope swing, but if the river hasn't been flushed for a while, expect a heap of leaf litter under your feet in the water, which can feel a little squishy. If you think you will slide in gently off the wall, just remember there's no going back up the concrete slope once you hit the water. As noted below, the managing authority warns against using the rope swing. Whilst it sits over the deepest part of the pool, I could still readily touch the bottom while standing up next to the rope, so it's not as deep there as it might look from out of the water.

The design of this pool includes an auxilliary toddler pool. When the river is high enough, water backs up into a concrete pen on the bank, that kids can sit in and splash about.
Most photos that I've seen of the toddler pool, including mine, show it high and dry, so if you want to take advantage of this little pool you need to plan your visit after a relatively wet period. It wouldn't surprise me if the pool were to dry up and become unswimmable by the end of summer in most years. The toddler pool at Vaughan Springs Above: The toddler pool (high and dry) at Vaughan Springs (Order gifts or prints of this image)

The pool is only one component of an ambitious vision for a mineral spring complex that had its hayday in the first half of the 20th century. You can taste the mineral spring water at several springs in the park, each of which has slightly different chemical composition, and read about the history of Vaughan Springs at various information boards on site. I particularly enjoyed learning about the sprinting track near the kiosk, which I initially mistook for some kind of animal pen! You can also camp here for free at one of the unpowered sites on top of the hill as you first enter the spring complex if you want to make a weekend of it.

Here is a video of my epic rope swing fail in the pool at Vaughan Springs. I suspect it would have been easier for me if the river was either slightly higher or slightly lower, or if someone had been there in the water to give me a boost.

Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Dry Diggings Track, Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, Vaughan, 120 km (approx. 1 hr 45 minute drive) north-west of the Melbourne CBD.
Latitude:-37.162290 Longitude:144.215600
Getting there: From Melbourne take the Calder Fwy (M79) to Malmsbury then head west along the Calder Hwy (C794) through Malmsbury and then south along the Daylesford-Malmsbury Rd (C316). Head west along Vaughan Springs Rd and then west again down Vaughan-Chewton Rd / Greville St. After passing the houses at Vaughan, follow the signs to the springs. The swimming hole car park is just upstream of Lawson Spring.
Facilities: Picnic tables, car park, lawn area, mineral springs, playground, public toilets, historic sprinting track, walking trails
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild
Water clarity: Cloudy
Under foot: Leaf litter
Maximum water depth: 1-2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Beginners in the toddler pool, experienced elsewhere

Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No dogs, no firearms, no taking of plants, animals, historical artefacts or geological features, no collection of firewood. Take rubbish home with you. Fires may only be lit in fireplaces provided. Prospectors require a Miner's right. Various park rules apply to the use of gas or electric barbecues.
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water. Limited shade in the water from overhanging trees.
Opening times: Always open except on Code Red fire danger days
Wheelchair access: None
Accommodation Options: Unpowered camp sites are available on the upper terrace at Vaughan Springs, about a 250 metre walk from the swimming hole. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis, with no bookings taken. If you don't want to camp, various accommodation options are available at Castlemaine, 15 km to the north or Hepburn Springs, 30 km to the south.
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Film and TV: The 2017 TV series Glitch (Season 2) about zombies featured both a fight scene and a love making scene in the water at this pool.
Nearby attractions: Swimming at Expedition Pass Reservoir, 16 km to the north and Welshman's Reef, 25 km to the west.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information. Specific to this site, the managing authority warns swimmers that there is no lifesaving service at this pool, that it has shallow water and submerged objects. Furthermore, the managing authority warns swimmers not to use the rope swings on site, so if you swing on them and you injure yourself, it's at your own risk.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park just past Lawson Spring.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by swimmers on this website. If you are visiting this swimming spot and have an update on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
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