Yarrangobilly Thermal Pools

Behind Australia's highest summit and ironically one of the most undramatic mounds of land lays Australia's answer to Iceland's Blue Lagoon. Or at least that's what I was led to believe from the photographs I had seen.


I feel I should introduce this Journal sub-category which will appear as an inconsistent feature titled: 'Swimming Hole Review.' The intention behind this sub-c is nothing more than an excuse to convince Maya that we need to venture far our of our way to go swimming because you know...it's for our blog. It was during my first trip to Iceland that I decided to travel out of my way to find hot tubs, I guess because besides looking at waterfalls and scoffing at other marvels of nature there wasn't too much else to do. Of course it is extremely possible that my hot tub expectations have now been set far too high, too long ago. This is a possible explanation why these reviews may come off sounding pessimistic, but when I stumble upon a mind blowing swimming hole then I will merit it - but until then...

The poster at our campground showed steam rising from Yarrangobilly thermal pools, surrounded by towering gum trees with snow blanketing down and some lucky swimmers enjoying the warmth of a natural thermal pool in the dead of winter. Picturing ourselves gazing at the same idyllic bushland surrounds after days of camping sans showers we were excited to bath in a proper Australian hot spring, agreeing to overlook the fact it was contained in man-made pool.

Walking down a 700m steep track we glimpsed a well constructed and strangely located swimming pool that must have been close to 20m long nestled at the base of a valley with rays of morning light dappling its calm surface. Not quite the romantic or quaint hot tub I had expected, but this was after all the Blue Lagoon of the Australian Snowys. I also suspiciously noted there did not appear to be any steam rising from its surface despite the near frosty morning. There were already two other bathers submerged, casually floating about and slowly conquering lap swimming goals. They quickly left however as soon as we undressed. I probably would have done the same.

Maya was first in and also first to discover the reason for the lack of ambience mood setting steam as the pool was lukewarm. The signs declared 27 degrees celsius water year round, but it could well have been 26. She also found there was no shallow end and no part of the pool where she could stand head above water. It appeared to us that pool engineers in the 1960s believed this pool was best constructed with an uninterrupted standard depth of 2.3 metres. I could imagine them with their abacus and rulers out drawing up their plans so bathers were forced to swim, tread water or get out giving the illusion of a warmer pool.

It was a pleasant morning regardless and we casually tired ourselves out before we heard the echo of a large group of kids running down the path, about to terrorise our sanctuary in the same way we must have ruined the bathing couple's privacy a short time before. We were out and dressed within minutes when the flood of school holiday families took hold of the pool. Inflatables were deployed, wobbly pool noodles had begun being used as weapons and dad jokes penetrated my sensitive sense of humour with startling precision.

In our escape, we decided to explore the surrounding area and discovered a picturesque billabong that looked to have fallen directly from a Banjo Paterson poem, the water was clear and slightly tinted with gum leaf tannins. The billabong was being fed the excess water from the tepid swimming pool which made me feel like we had made the wrong choice in location for our Yarrangobilly swim... 

In conclusion - I give Yarrangobilly thermal pool 3/5 stars.