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.
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.
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:
Dry Diggings Track, Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, Vaughan,
120 km (approx. 1 hr 45 minute drive) north-west of the Melbourne CBD.
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.
Picnic tables, car park, lawn area, mineral springs, playground, public toilets, historic sprinting track, walking
Maximum water depth:
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.
Shade available out of the water. Limited shade in the water from overhanging trees.
Always open except on Code Red fire danger days
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
15 km to the north or
30 km to the south.
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.
Swimming at Expedition Pass Reservoir
, 16 km to the north and
, 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.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park just past Lawson Spring.
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming hole, please fill in the comment box below. I'm particularly interested in your
experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions. All fields are required if you would like your comments published on this website.
© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.