Wild Swimming Australia – Our Guide to Outdoor Swimming Holes in Australia is Born
October 13th, 2015
WE RECENTLY LAUNCHED OUR INTERACTIVE MAP OF SWIMMING HOLES THROUGHOUT AUSTRALIA. WITH NO EXPERIENCE OF WEBSITE BUILDING, BLOGGING OR MARKETING, IT’S BEEN A LABOUR OF LOVE. HERE’S WHY WE BOTHERED…
We’re hoping that Wild Swimming Australia will inspire more people to go exploring and discover the stunningly beautiful swimming holes, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, ocean rock pools, hidden beaches and lagoons in their area or in other parts of our incredibly diverse country.
Why are we doing this? For love actually. Let me explain…
We love to share. We want to share information about how to find swimming holes and enjoy the magical combination that is nature and swimming because we love it, and when we take our friends to these spots they love it too. And we love that they love it. So much love!
We also love when things are easy. When we go looking for a new swimming hole it takes a whole lot of effort. It’s like being a detective. We follow leads, scour maps and drive and walk for hours, and sometimes all we get is a two inch trickle over a pebbly creek bed, or even worse, an invisible underground stream which has been diverted into a concrete tunnel. But more often than not we strike gold, sometimes literally, and when we do we put all the info on the map and location pages so that you can enjoy the experience without any of the effort.
And there’s more! We’ve made the locations searchable by category so that you can filter spots for your specific requirements.
When we tell people we love exploring swimming holes, they inevitably say something like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome! Where should we take the kids at Easter?’ So if you need a swimming hole that is child-friendly, want to swim by the ocean, love waterfalls or only like travelling by helicopter you can easily see locations that meet your needs on the locations page.
We want to share the information we’ve found and make it easy for everyone to swim outdoors because we think its good for people (we know its good for us), and it could even help the environment.
Wild swimming is good for you
Research shows that getting out into nature is as really important for physical and mental health. It’s well documented that getting outdoors and moving around more is generally good for our bodies, but there may be benefits more specific to being in wild places such as the relaxation response when we ‘unplug’ ourselves and do something fun, which allows the body to self-repair. For example a Finnish group researching the health benefits of forests cites studies showing that forest visits can strengthen the immune system and lower levels of stress hormones.
A 2010 study by Deakin University entitled Beyond Blue to Green evidences the many ways in which contact with nature can also have positive effects on mental health, even helping to deal with more serious issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. This type of thinking is increasingly influencing public life, including health and education initiatives and the way public spaces are designed.
There is also an increasing body of evidence around the specific benefits of being in and around water. In his 2014 book Blue Mind, Wallace J Nicholls shows us how being near water is good for us on many levels and even affects our neurobiology for the better. The European Centre for Environment and Human Health in the UK has also carried out several studies in the area of water and wellbeing, including one study which correlates living by the coast with improved health. Another study, published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health in 2004 showed that winter swimming significantly improved participants’ general wellbeing when compared with a control group.
The evidence is there, both anecdotal and scientific, that being in wilderness and water is good for us humans. So as far as we’re concerned, more people spending more time in nature, particularly lakes, rivers, remote beaches and creeks, can only make the world a healthier, happier place.
Pleased to meet you
Wild Swimming Australia’s founders, Andy and Rachel Lewis have had the seeds of this venture in them for a long time and are so excited to finally see it come to fruition.
Andy’s love of exploration has had him escaping the city every Friday afternoon for the last few years in search of beautiful, wild places. When asked what motivates him he ponders for a little while, being more a man of action than of words, but finally decides, ‘It’s because I feel more grounded when I’m out there and it clears my mind. Being in the outdoors often means doing more simple tasks. I feel young again and get to play with sticks and build fires and things like that. It also feels much freer as you can do what you want, go off the beaten track and find new things. That’s one reason we’re so lucky in Australia because you still get the feeling that if you go exploring you can find places that no-one else has been for a very long time.”
Rachel is all about the health and wellbeing benefits of wild swimming and the potential to get people involved with their environment. Her affinity for water goes back to her earliest childhood memories and more recently she experienced its healing power as wild swimming helped her through some difficult times. She says, “I’ve read all the studies about nature being good for mental health, but for me its not enough just to be outdoors. There has to be water. I have to be in water.”
Whilst combining their passions to explore wild swimming spots around Australia they also realized that their respective photography and writing skills had them ideally placed to provide high quality images and information about the places they were visiting to anyone else who wanted to swim outdoors.
Beat the crowds
Inspired by tales of adventurous swimming in books like Waterlog by Roger Deakin and Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox, Rachel and Andy wanted to showcase the alternatives to overcrowded beaches and promote outdoor swimming as a year-round activity.
So they founded Wild Swimming Australia and hope to make it easier for people to add the benefits of peace and tranquility and contact with nature to their swimming experience, perhaps even changing perceptions about outdoor swimming being purely a summer activity. “There is such an incredible variety of places to swim outdoors and many are easily accessible from major cities” notes Rachel. “People all over the world are starting to re-learn the magic of wild swimming, even in colder climes like the UK and Finland. Maybe its time more of us in Australia get in on what our own Winter Swimming Association has known since 1959: Australia is a great place to swim outdoors, all year round.”
They also hope that as people get out and explore more remote areas and connect with the beauty and wildlife that is out there they will better understand the value of our incredible Australian natural resources and feel more inclined to protect and regenerate Australia’s waterways, to the point where every river is swimmable. As Jacques Cousteau famously said, ‘People protect what they love.’ And we hope to make it easier for you to fall in love with the water.
We have launched the site with a small number of swimming holes because we are committed to only providing high quality images and information to our swimmers, but we have hundreds more in store and will be adding them regularly over the weeks and months to come. You can sign up to our news feed, Facebook or Instagram here to stay up to date with new spots as we add them.
We will also be teaming up with more incredible photographers who love to explore and photograph swimming holes so that we can cover the whole of Australia and make sure we can tell you about a swimming hole wherever you are or are planning to go.
We want this to be a useful resource that you want to use so check out the website and leave us a comment.
Now there’s nothing stopping you getting out there and finding the perfect wild swimming location for you. So what are you waiting for?
Jump in…the water’s lovely.