For many people, the first image that springs to mind when they think of the Top End is endless dry desert under a sweltering red sun. But the Northern Territory is home to an impressive number of crystal-clear waterholes, thermal springs, cascading waterfalls and pristine beaches. Here are just two of the state’s most refreshing swimming holes.
Before you leave, however, be sure to pack a sensible attitude! While these swimming spots are some of the most beautiful in the country, many waterholes in the Northern Territory are inhabited by crocodiles. Always swim only where signposted, and take all warnings about swimming times and boundaries seriously.
Located in the northern section of the 13,800-hectare Elsey National Park, the Bitter Springs thermal pool is one of the Northern Territory’s most beautiful swimming spots. Soothe your aches and pains and soak up the enchanting atmosphere as you relax in the turquoise water so strikingly beautiful that you’ll be wondering whether you’ve stepped into a postcard.
The water is remarkably clean and regularly reaches temperatures exceeding 25 degrees Celsius, providing a warming counterpart to the cool shade of the elegant trees that surround the pool.
Turtles and other native wildlife can often be seen in and around the pools, so pack your goggles and a kickboard, float around, and take in as much as you can.
Once you’ve warmed up in the springs, explore the surrounding parkland in a canoe or boat, go fishing or bushwalking, explore nearby historical sites, or set up camp for a long weekend and explore everything at your own leisure.
Berry Springs Nature Park
Only 48 kilometres south of Darwin, Berry Springs Nature Park is the perfect oasis escape from the Top End heat. With warm emerald green waters, the waterhole – complete with miniature waterfall – is a living work of art. Swim with goggles or go snorkelling to get an up-close view of native fish and aquatic life, or enjoy a barbecue lunch at the nearby picnic facilities.
While you’re at the nature park, you can also learn all about its fascinating history. During World War II, Berry Springs was put to use by 10,000 armed forces personnel as a rest and recuperation camp. During this time, multiple huts and even a weir were built, the remains of which can still be glimpsed through the forest surrounding the main pool.