Running low on friends with swimming pools? Really sick of blowing up that plastic pool only to sit in a puddle of chlorinated water? You're in luck! However, you can't just swim anywhere in North Queensland; crocodiles are the kings of the estuaries, and stingers are the queens of the ocean – at least for six months every year.

"Our land abounds in nature's gifts of beauty rich and rare."

And it's true, these free swimming holes are perfect for a refreshing adventurer's fix, as well as being ridiculously Insta-worthy! #nofilter

We all love natural, freshwater swimming holes, and if you need to get out of the air-conditioning, are sick of sweating, or simply want to discover somewhere new, here's our top picks of the best swimming holes Townsville has to offer.

Weekend plans = sorted!

1. Little Crystal Creek Falls // Paluma Range National Park

Little Crystal Creek Falls - @travel_withlo

Little Crystal Creek bridge is not only heritage-listed, but is also surrounded by pristine waterfalls with small pockets of water making perfect swimming holes. Devil's Leap is another testament to Little Crystal Creek; it is a decent-sized swimming hole with cliff-jumping opportunities and a daredevil-like rock slide.

If you are visiting the base of the Paluma area, don't miss the Paradise Waterhole on Big Crystal Creek.

2. Paradise Waterhole // Paluma Range National Park

Paradise Waterhole, Crystal Creek

This natural waterhole is a favourite for many; with the Big Crystal Creek campground nearby, the path to Paradise Waterhole begins at the recreational day-use area. The short jaunt down to this pristine waterhole takes about two minutes and will take you to a large, rocky outcrop that is perfect for basking in the sun after a dip in the deep, crystal clear, refreshing water. It's probably the best and most reliable swimming hole near Townsville.

Just a short way up the road from Paradise Waterhole, you will find another great place to take a dip.

3. The Rock Slides // Paluma Range National Park

Nolan's Gully waterhole

The track to the rock slides is short, with a slight uphill grade at times. The rockslides reside in Nolan's Gully, which is not common knowledge. It's a series of short, water-cut slides over slick granite that shoot you down into a lustrous pool. But, there are also plenty of smooth, flat rocks for relaxing alongside this natural waterslide. Plus, it only takes about 10 minutes from the gate to reach this fun-filled destination.

Further North, but still within the Paluma Range National Park, is Jourama Falls, a popular tourist destination.

4. Base of Jourama Falls // Paluma Range National Park

Waterview Creek - @alaptseu

Waterview Creek is the perfect place to stop off for a swim. Fringed by rainforest, Jourama Falls tumbles down many picturesque cascades and rapids. It's a short walk in to witness this magnificent, multi-tiered waterfall system. Swimming pools and breathtaking views can be found along the 3 km return walking track that winds along the creek and down into the rainforest before climbing above the gorge. Those who choose to rock scramble upstream will be rewarded with their own private waterfalls and swimming holes.

5. Alligator Creek // Bowling Green Bay National Park

Alligator Creek Falls Hike
Alligator Creek Falls

Alligator Creek is just another tribute to the beauty of North Queensland. You can either stop at the car park for a swim or go for a long hike into Alligator Creek Falls. For your very own private infinity pool overlooking the mountains and ocean, rock scramble up the right-hand side to the top. During wet weather, take the bush track that is further to the right.

6. Running River // Hidden Valley

Puzzel Ck waterfall
The Junction // Puzzle Creek & Running River

Running River is a perfect escape. Not only do you have this major river and its waterfalls, but St Peter's Gate is a cool rock formation and swimming area located at the junction in Puzzle Creek. This spot also provides a great place to relax. There are plenty of swimming holes and waterfalls in this area to explore, making it a great place to share with friends.

7. Birthday Creek Falls // Paluma Range National Park

Birthday Creek Falls - @chloeboote

A short five minute walk through the rainforest will take you to crystal-clear water that runs down the picturesque cascades of Birthday Creek. It is a great place for birdwatchers to look for golden and tooth-billed bowerbirds. A short track from the top of the waterfalls leads to a small swimming pool.

8. Keelbottom Creek // Hervey Range

Keelbottom Creek - @amysadvenntures

A bit off the beaten path, most locals have never heard of this hidden gem. This swimming and bush-camping spot is best after a good wet season. Located near Defence Land and just off Hervey Range Road, Keelbottom Creek is a close place to get away for a night of swimming, bush-camping, and even dirt biking.

9. Bluewater Creek // Bluewater

Bluewater Creek

At the peak of the wet season, this idyllic waterhole becomes a popular destination that is only 40 km north of Townsville. The creek runs under the bridge, which is an alright place to swim, but you will find the true beauty upstream. Follow Forestry Road, and on the left, before you hit the uphill section, you'll find a clearing to a lovely patch of running water, if it has rained recently. You'll encounter amazing blue water surrounded by reeds and grasses. However, be aware that crocodiles may be in and around the bridge area.

10. Rollingstone Creek // Rollingstone

Rollingstone Creek - @microholiday

Rollingstone Creek is a popular spot, with a kid-friendly, freshwater swimming hole. This creek is in it's prime just after the wet season and heavy rains. Located about 60 km north of Townsville, this area has public toilets, picnic tables, and camping facilities. If you cross the highway and drive upstream along a dirt road (Plantation Road), you'll find better places to swim and tube down the creek when it's flowing.

Please note:

  • Bring insect spray with you wherever you go. Mosquitoes are uncomfortable and can ruin the experience for all.
  • Watch out for surging water levels in the wet season, and take caution on the wet, slippery rocks.
  • Keep a look out for crocodile warning signs before you go near any creeks and estuaries. Use common sense.