The 5 Best Swimming Holes in Australia's Northern Territory

Ormiston Gorge in West MacDonnell National Park
Ormiston Gorge in West MacDonnell National Park | © Andrew Paul Deer / Shutterstock

The Northern Territory might not be known for its beaches, due to its population of friendly saltwater crocodiles. Fortunately, there are plenty of other pools and waterfalls to enjoy across the state. Here are the best swimming holes in the Northern Territory.

1. Gunlom Plunge Pool in Kakadu National Park

Natural Feature

Gunlom Falls, Northern Territory © Iambexta / Wikimedia Commons
© Iambexta / Wikimedia Commons
Gunlom Plunge Pool is located within Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pool is found beneath a seasonal waterfall on the aptly named Waterfall Creek. From the serene, crystal clear plunge pools of Gunlom, you can see the most incredible panoramic views of Kakadu National Park. There is a picnic area beside the pool and a campground nearby as well. Looking for another swimming hole in Kakadu? Check out Motor Car Falls.

2. Bitter Springs

Natural Feature, Park

Beautiful Bitter Springs
© Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr

The next swimming hole is actually a 32°C thermal pool. Bitter Springs is located within Elsey National Park, where you will also find the more popular (and more crowded) Mataranka Thermal Pool. The crystal clear swimming hole is surrounded by tropical woodlands and has a main pool, which flows into another swimming area. There are steps into the main pool, as well as walking paths, picnic tables and barbecue facilities.

3. Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park

Natural Feature, Park

Litchfield National Park
© Ian Diversi / Flickr
Litchfield National Park is a great day trip option from Darwin, the Northern Territory’s capital city. The first swimming hole to visit is beneath the breathtaking Florence Falls. See the plunge pool from the viewing platform, before following the stairs through tropical rainforest to this beauty. Another option is Buley Rockhole, which consists of several cascading waterfalls and rock pools. People have been known to bring all kinds of floatation devices to Buley Rockhole.

4. Southern Rockhole in Nitmiluk National Park

Natural Feature, Park

Katherine River, flowing through Katherine Gorge
© Ian Diversi / Flickr

There are two ways to access Southern Rockhole in Nitmiluk National Park. You can either hike there via the rocky Windolf bush walking trail, which is an eight-kilometre (five-mile) return trip. Otherwise, there’s a ferry that drops you 150 metres from the swimming hole. The seasonal waterfall cascades over sandstone cliffs into a pristine pool. Because this article is also all about the options, a swimming hole alternative in Nitmiluk National Park can be found at Leliyn/Edith Falls.

5. Ormiston Gorge in the West MacDonnell Ranges

Natural Feature

Ormiston Gorge in the West MacDonnell National Park, Australia
© Andrew Paul Deer / Shutterstock

Just like Litchfield National Park, the West MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs are home to several enticing but cold swimming holes. The prettiest is possibly Ormiston Gorge, which has a sandy bank and beautiful surrounding scenery. Another swimming hole with a sandy beach is Ellery Creek Big Hole, which is perfect for picnics and relaxing. Finally, you can also visit Redbank Gorge, where you can float through the gorge’s towering red cliffs.

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