Summer Water(ing) Holes


Turpin Falls, Langley (via Kyneton)

One of the great joys of summer in Central Victoria is the fact that we have an abundance of water holes and watering holes. Known to locals as pools and pubs. Many locals keep a towel in the back seat of the car over summer because when the mercury hits anything over 30 you’re never too far from a pool of free-flowing, cool, crystal-clear water.

Three of Victoria’s big rivers rise in these neck of the woods, namely the Coliban, Loddon and Campaspe. At Vaughan Springs, on the road between Malmsbury and Guilford, is a reserve on the Loddon River, set aside at the turn of the 20th century, now shaded by mature European trees. Here there is a children’s playground, a hand pumped mineral spring and a large pool formed by a dam holding back the waters of the Loddon River. This is a popular swimming spot in summer with families and teenagers flocking to the cool down on hot days. Come early to see the platypus or look out for the kingfishers during the morning and afternoon. (

Out at Creswick is St George’s Lake, once a mining dam. A few years back it was completely drained, and all the various shopping trolleys and car bodies removed and replaced with a bed of sand. It’s cool, deep and clean and very popular on weekends over summer. (

Outside Kyneton, the Campaspe River meanders through bluestone country, around old river red gums, under an old bridge then plunges some 20 metres into a pool of cold deep water at Turpins Falls. The track to the pool is rough and there are no facilities, but it is a ruggedly beautiful part of the local countryside. Whilst some may find it tempting to jump off the 10 metre cliff into the large pool below, police strongly urge people against it. Water depth varies dramatically and the dark water prevents submerged objects from being seen. Numerous people have been seriously injured and several have died attempting to cliff dive here. (

Vaughan Springs on the Loddon River.

In the heart of Hepburn is the Old Hepburn Pool, a 50-yard swimming pool hewn during the 1930s into the bedrock through which Spring Creek flows in the 1930s. Back then it was used for the Victorian Swimming Championships. There are six stone markers at one of the pool denoting the lanes. It is said that champion swimmers Annette Kellerman and Frank Beaurepaire both swam in the pool. It fell into disrepair but was refurbished in the 1990s by volunteers who used old photographs as reference. While there are no toilets or changerooms, this pool in a creek in the bush has shaded grass areas making it good for a picnic. (

Daylesford Lake is one of our best-known water holes and covers the site of where alluvial gold was first discovered in 1851 when the area was known as Wombat. Opened in 1930 the banks of the lake are dotted with mineral spring hand pumps. The Peace Mile Walk, a 2.8km loop around the lake, takes about 40 minutes and is a lovely way to see the lake and views of town across it. Shaded by forest this is a cool place for a walk and a picnic on those still, warm days. (

Looking out over this idyllic scene is the Lake House’s new infinity pool. At 20m long and surrounded by landscaped gardens it has created a new tranquil precinct within Lake House. There are poolside phones with which guests can order snacks, such as a charcuterie plate, or light meals such as a salad caprese with a beer or glass of wine. (

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Speaking of beer, there is nothing like a refreshing Holgate ESB, hand pulled fresh from the barrel at the Radio Springs Hotel. This is a 1927 Californian Bungalow style building with lots of wood lined nooks and crannies in the dining room and a glorious public bar where the locals and visitors come to tell tall tales and true. It is at the end of the 6km Trentham to Lyonville Domino Rail Trail, a glorious little walk through the forest. (

On the edge of the forest out near Musk is a red brick building in the middle of an apple orchard. The trees bare old-fashioned apple varieties such as Fox Whelp, Yarling Mill and Brown Snout. Here the good people at Daylesford Cider make traditional ciders that taste like the real thing you’d get in England or Normandy. Try them with a meal in the garden overlooking the orchard or try a tasting paddle at the bar. (

Entering Daylesford from Musk, the Farmer’s Arms Hotel has been standing on the corner since 1854. This character-filled pub also has a secure and dog-friendly beer garden with high walls covered in a thick glossy blanket of ivy so you can enjoy some of their 18 wines, ciders and beers on tap whilst your 4-legged mates can chill out. (

The new Balcony Bar at the Daylesford Hotel offers a new outlook on town that was only available to punters during Chillout Festival when it was a pop-up bar. The newly opened bar is perched on the verandah of this glorious old dame of a watering hole and offers a panoramic vista of the town to the north and west looking out over Hepburn Springs towards the looming summit of Mount Franklin. With an Aperol spritz in hand, or a jug of beer on the table, this is the perfect place to enjoy a drink on a balmy evening as the sun sets over the forest and stately old buildings of Daylesford. (