Kenilworth local, Elin Power, gives us the inside scoop on the best freshwater swimming holes around Kenilworth.

A trip to Kenilworth in the summer months would not be the same without a swim in some of our best waterholes. The Mary River and the many creeks that flow into it offer diverse and interesting swimming experiences.

1. Obi Obi Creek Crossing No 2

Obi Obi Creek meanders down the valley from Mapleton Falls to Kenilworth where it joins the Mary River. The road largely follows the creek and you will cross small bridges (some single lane) several times, it is a joyfully scenic drive, and pleasant alternative route back to Brisbane from Kenilworth.

The creek crossing along the Obi Obi Road at Obi Obi Crossing #2 offers pleasant swimming within easy access of Kenilworth village, just a few minutes drive from the turn-off at Eumundi-Kenilworth Road towards Mapleton. Cross the bridge when you approach the crossing and turn left immediately and find shady park under a tree.

Access to the water is very easy from under the bridge (you can even bring your 4WD down to the water’s edge) and if you swim out into the centre, the water gets quite deep in parts. Children love to build dams and bridges along the rapids which are pebbly and not deep. There are plenty of shallows for the little ones and the less adventurous to paddle around. I’ve also seen the odd fisherman with a line in the water.

Obi Obi Creek

Obi Obi Creek

2. Booloumba Falls

Booloumba Falls is a favourite swimming destination, though takes a little bit longer to get there, and you need to be travelling in a four wheel drive or SUV.

Booloumba Falls. Credit: Elin Power.

Booloumba Falls. Credit: Elin Power.

To get there, travel south from Kenilworth village towards Maleny for about eight minutes (10 km), and turn right at the Booloumba Creek turn off. From here the first part of the road is bitumen, and you will travel past the state forest camping grounds. Continue past the camping grounds (or  stop here for morning tea in the day use area). Note: These are the last toilets and picnic facilities on the way to the falls.

The road then heads up a steepish hill (dirt road) and continues towards Booloumba Falls. Travel for about 12 minutes (9.8 km), taking it slowly and enjoy the beautiful rainforest and mountain scenery and odd look out, on the way. It is a two-way road, even though it doesn’t look it, so be mindful of the odd vehicle or motor cycle coming the other way.

The falls are quite well signed on arrival, and there is a spacious car parking area with directions on where to head to the falls. The walk to the falls from the carpark is a comfortable 1.5 km, and is a quality hiking trail. We suggest that you wear closed-in shoes all the same. You will see a number of creek entry points as you progress along the trail, though we recommend powering on until you reach the lookout, as it's well worth taking in the view and capturing a photo. Just beside the lookout, you will see the stairs going down to the swimming hole under the falls. Enjoy the waterfall shower and cool swim, and remember to take your rubbish with you on the way out.

If you are a keen hiker, you can continue along this trail as it heads back to the Booloumba Creek campgrounds that you passed through earlier. It's approximately 8.8 km one way.

3.  Gheerulla Creek

Gheerulla Falls

Gheerulla Falls

Gheerulla Creek is a short drive of around eight minutes from Kenilworth Village towards Eumundi on the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road. Shortly after the rest area on the right (last toilets on this trip!) you will see a turn off on your right along Sam Kelly Road. The first part of the road is well graded and maintained, and as you approach the dense forest along Gheerulla Creek, you will need to be in a 4WD to continue. Alternatively, park your sedan here as the walk is scenic and pleasant.

This is the beginning of a longer walk through to the Gheerulla Valley Forest and is also a popular starting point for dirt bike and mountain bike riders as well.

Gheerulla Creek is probably more suitable for paddling in the shallows or chilling your feet, in that it does not offer deep swimming waterholes. It is a spectacularly scenic fast flowing creek, bumbling across round rocks and boulders and surrounded by rainforest vegetation. We like to cross the creek at the main parking area and stroll across a large fallen tree to the other side, where you can join the established walking track that follows the path of the creek for a short or long walk. 

4. Lake Borumba Dam

This is a bit of longer trip from Kenilworth though well worth the journey, particularly if you have a boat, kayak or canoe. From Kenilworth, travel to Imbil, down its main street (Yabba Creek Road), and continue out the other end towards the dam for about 20 km. Imbil is also a nice stop off point for a coffee, drink or supplies. If you are travelling through on a Sunday morning there is a small farmers' market that operates from 9 am to 2 pm.

Borumba Dam

Borumba Dam

If you don’t have your own canoe or kayak, you can hire these in Imbil at Ride on Mary or Imbil Kayak and Bike Hire

The area surrounding the lake features picnic grounds, boat ramps and toilet facilities.

On your way back, the Borumba Deer Park is worth a visit. The park is also a camping and cabins resort, though the owner advises that visitors are welcome to look around and feed the deer for short visits.

5.  Mary River – Whispers at Kenilworth

Whispers at Kenilworth is a privately operated holiday accommodation and in my opinion offers some of the best river swimming in the district. The property spans around 600 m of river frontage and 200 m of Walli Creek frontage. Walli Creek only pumps in wet season, though the Mary River flows all year around.

Mary River

Mary River

There is a range of deep waterholes, a lagoon across from the river, rapids, sand banks (bring your beach umbrella), platypus and lung fish inhabit the area, and there's plenty of room to kayak or canoe. Access to the river is easy for walkers and paddlers alike. Keen paddlers can make it to the village of Kenilworth in about an hour and a half down river. Kingfishers, eagles, and many other bird species are prolific in the river and surrounding environment.

This swimming hole is only available to guests of Whispers, so it is a very private and secluded place to swim. See for booking enquiries. 

6. Kenilworth Homestead

Kenilworth Homestead is a privately run outdoor recreation, family camping and function centre, on the bank of the beautiful Mary River and just 2 km from the township of Kenilworth in the Mary Valley. 

Kenilworth Homestead frontage on the Mary River

Kenilworth Homestead frontage on the Mary River

Access to the river is easy for swimmers and paddlers, and you are able to hire kayaks by the hour at a very reasonable price. The swimming holes are mostly shallow ponds, lots of sandy bank and if you paddle your way down river, there are several deep swimming holes to be found at various locations. Providing you don’t go during flood or heavy rain periods, the current is gentle and swimming is a safe option here. See for booking enquiries. 

Caution: The great part of swimming around Kenilworth is that unless you enter a waterway during periods of flood - and we strongly recommend that you don’t -  it is remarkably safe and free from hazards. There are no crocodiles, sharks, sea lice, rips, or other bitey things to worry about! And the water is fresh and cleansed by multiple sand bars which act as filters. One of the few hazards to be aware of after periods of heavy rain are strong currents in a few locations. Usually these are short stretches of river, and where they connect with logs lying across the creek or river, are best avoided.

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