Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon travelled around Australia in search of the country’s most distinctive, remarkable swimming spots. It’s all documented in a new book that’s part travel guide, part photo essay, and part cultural study.
On a hot summer’s day, country Victoria can feel particularly landlocked – no wind, no water, no coastline to be found in any direction. So it was with welcome relief that we planned a trip to Turpins Falls in Langley – one of only a few places to swim locally – on a particularly sun-kissed afternoon in January.
We were staying with friends in Trentham, about 30 minutes from Turpins Falls. They told us about their discovery of a secret waterhole earlier that week, describing it as an untapped swimming spot where, at the time, they were the only visitors. We imagined there might be a few groups there on the weekend but, happy to share the bounty, we piled into cars and headed to the falls, just outside the neighbouring town of Kyneton.
As we descended into the gorge, a viewing platform revealed a clear view of the pool below – an impressive natural amphitheatre of rock surrounding a deep billabong located along the Campaspe River.
It turned out there was nothing secret about this location, other than its discreet way of blending in with the surrounding paddocks. There must’ve been a hundred people in the water paddling around on colourful floaties, and plenty more lazing on the banks – a veritable melting pot of locals, families and daytrippers from Melbourne. It felt like we’d arrived at a music festival as we stepped over crushed beer cans and conked-out sunbathers resting in the shade. But crowds are always a sign of a good thing, and Turpins Falls has plenty of redeeming features.
Swimmers splash around in the blissfully cool water, chatting in the shallows or floating out where it’s deeper. Some attempt to climb the slippery overhanging rocks at the lower part of the cliff, while kids line up to jump off big boulders near the water’s edge.
During the dry season, the term “waterfall” loosely applies – a small trickle pours down over 20 metres of rock into the refreshing pool below. Cliff diving was once popular but has now been prohibited (says a foreboding sign upon entry), so the best spot to hop in is via the rocky river outlet of the lagoon. Entry there is shallow, gradual and a little sludgy underfoot. This is a rich, particularly Australian setting; one to relish in warmer months.
We made a return trip to Turpins Falls in June and can confirm this place is truly a summer swimming spot. In winter the water is icy and probably only good for a quick, breathtaking plunge. But the waterfall flows like it never does in warmer months, and you’ll get the place to yourself.
Best time to visit
December to May
How to get there
From Kyneton, travel 11 kilometres north on Kyneton–Metcalfe Road. Turn right onto East Metcalfe–Langley Road for 2.5 kilometres. East Metcalfe–Langley Rd veers left to become Shillidays Road; continue a further 1.5 kilometres to the Turpins Falls turn-off on the right.
Short dirt road to the car park (suitable for 2WD). It’s a quick but steep walk down to the falls, with a couple of sections that can get slippery when wet.
Jumping from the cliffs or rocks from any height into the water is dangerous and prohibited.
Waterproof sandals to wear into the water, over the rocks and the sludgy bottom.
In summer, try to visit midweek when the crowds die down; if visiting on a weekend, be prepared to brave other swimmers in droves.
This is an edited extract from Places We Swim by Caroline Clements and Dillion Seitchick-Reardon, published by Hardie Grant Travel. RRP $39.99, available in stores nationally and online.
For more, follow Caroline and Dillon on Instagram @placesweswim.