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The Five Best Rivers for Swimming In Near Brisbane

Skip the surf and overcrowded sands of Queensland's beaches in favour of floating upstream at these nearby rivers.
By Jasmine Crittenden and Sarah Ward
March 01, 2024
By Jasmine Crittenden and Sarah Ward
March 01, 2024

The Brisbane River may give our city that romantic feel, but its muddy waters are pretty off-putting for swimming purposes. There's a growing call to clean up the waterway, but with those plans still in the pipeline — and warm weather a Brissie constant — we don't have time to wait.

So, we've scoped out some rivers near Brisbane where you can take a dip in clean, healthy waters. Whether you want to hang out underneath a tumbling waterfall or picnic among tranquil rock pools, there's a cool, watery escape for you here.


Recommended reads:
The Best Summer Day Trips From Brisbane
The Best Waterfalls You Can Swim Under Near Brisbane
The Best Walks Around Brisbane
The Best Snorkelling Spots Near Brisbane 

Gardners Falls Manely Queensland - one of the best Brisbane rivers for swimming in.

Tourism and Events Queensland

Garners Falls, Maleny

At some point along the shady, ferny walking trail to Gardners Falls, the real world slips away. This dreamy rock pool feels like it could be a portal to some fairy tale alter-universe. It's hidden in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, just a five-minutes drive from Maleny – and a 90-minutes drive north of Brisbane.

There's a variety of swimming holes, from shallow spots where you can get your feet wet to an expansive pool beneath a waterfall. Spend your terrestrial time relaxing on rock platforms or go exploring in nearby bushland. Surrounded by native forest, the location is also ideal for a post-swim picnic under a giant water gum. it's easily one of our favourite Queensland rivers for swimming in.


Bunya Crossing Reserve - one of the best Brisbane rivers for swimming in.

Bunya Crossing Reserve, The Hills District

When you're short on time, make tracks to Bunya Crossing Reserve swimming hole, which you'll find on a bend in the South Pine River. It's just 25 minutes from Brisbane's CBD, so it's more or less in the suburbs. There are a bunch of spots of various depths, letting you completely submerge yourself or stick to paddling in the shallows.

Note that you could be sharing the water with ducks, fish and turtles. In the surrounding bushland — part of Bunyaville State Forest Park — walking trails are home to possums, wallabies and bush turkeys. You're welcome to fish, bring your dog (as long as they stay on-leash) and there are gas barbies, too, where you can fire up your catch while it's still super-fresh.


Currimbin Creek Gold Coast - one of the best Brisbane rivers for swimming in.

Tourism and Events Queensland

Currumbin Creek, Gold Coast Hinterland

No doubt your usual motivation for road tripping to the Gold Coast is beaches. But, drive inland from Currumbin Beach for just 15 minutes (about 1.5 hours south of Brisbane) and you'll reach the enchanting rock pools of Currumbin Creek, nestled into Currumbin Valley.

Set against steep rock faces and dotted with rope swings and ledges, the Currumbin Rock Pools look like something out of an Enid Blyton adventure novel. Once you've finished up with your swim, you can always head to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, too, to enjoy an arvo with native fauna in natural surrounds.


Cedar Creek, samford Queensland- one of the best Brisbane rivers for swimming in.

John via Flickr

Cedar Creek, Samford

Samford's Cedar Creek is a 45-minute drive northwest of Brisbane, and it boasts quite the popular name. Yes, there's also a Cedar Creek in Tamborine National Park, plus another up in Proserpine — just to make things confusing.

With this one, though, you're headed to a cheerful Queensland river spot that starts high up in Mount Glorious, before gradually winding its way to Moreton Bay. Be prepared for plenty of rocks, small but cute swimming spots, and having a leisurely creek dip. Don't forget to pack sturdy shoes to explore the area, and to bring a picnic. There's more than a few spots to eat, and you'll want to kick back and relax for a while. This all combines to makes it one of the best rivers for swimming in near Brisbane.


Lower Portals - one of the best Brisbane rivers for swimming in.

Tourism and Events Queensland

Lower Portals, Mount Barney National Park

To make the most out of this river swim, leave early. The swimming spot is a 1.5-hour drive southwest of Brisbane, then a 7.4-kilometre loop along a steep and rocky trail. That might sound like an effort, but the cool, lush gully known as Lower Portals is worth it — especially on a steaming hot day in Brisbane.

Here, you'll discover a string of crystal-clear rock pools, separated by enormous boulders and rising into subtropical rainforest. Fair warning: the water is usually rather cold, even in the middle of summer. But it's a refreshing dip during the warmer days ahead.


Top image: Lower Portals, Mount Barney Lodge by Tourism and Events Queensland.

Published on March 01, 2024 by Jasmine Crittenden
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