Nov 21, 2022 | Aqua. On swimming.

The best freshwater swimming holes in the Mary Valley

Elin Power

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

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.

Obi Obi Creek Crossing No 2

Obi Obi Creek Crossing No 2

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 minute’s 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.

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.

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), take it slowly and enjoy the beautiful rainforest and mountain scenery and look outs 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 well signed on arrival and there is a spacious car parking area with directions on how to get to the falls. The walk to the falls from the carpark is a comfortable 1.5 km, and is a quality hiking trail. I 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 I 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.

Booloumba Creek

Boolumba Creek is a Mary Valley waterway near Kenilworth and offers several sparkling clean deep waterholes. You can access one of the creek’s best waterholes without the hike, by driving into the Booloumba Creek 1 camping area | Conondale National Park | Parks and forests | Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (

This waterhole has a sandy bottom, is beside a grassy knoll for picnics and after rain, it is deep and clear.

swimming hole mary valley

Booloumba Creek offers a few clear cool waterholes

Gheerulla Creek

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  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 SUV or better to continue. Alternatively, park your sedan here as the walk is scenic and pleasant.

Gheerulla Creek

Gheerulla Creek

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 toilets 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.

Yabba Creek

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). The creek can be accessed in downtown Imbil or continue out to the kayak launch which washed away in the floods of 2022. If you don’t mind a little scramble down a sandy, pebbly track, swimmers can still get in where the kayak launch used to be.

The creek offers pleasant swimming at no more than 1m deep. The water temp here is always fresh and cool even on the hottest days as water is realeased into Yabba Creek from the bottom of the upstream dam wall.

It’s a popular kayak spot and 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.

Imbil is also a nice stop off point for a coffee, a meal, a 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.

Mary River

There are a few spots where swimmers can access the Mary River including at Traveston Crossing, and several camping and holiday accommodation businesses offer acess to swimming holes.

Mary River Holidays is privately operated holiday accommodation and offers spectacular river access and views without the crowds experienced at local camp grounds. There are a few deep waterholes, small 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. Kingfishers, eagles, and many other bird species are prolific in the river and surrounding environment. This swimming hole is only available to guests of Mary River Holidays so it is a private and secluded place to swim.

Mary River, Mary Valley freshwater swimming

Mary River Holidays has great access to swimming holes in the mighty Mary River

See for booking enquiries.

Kenilworth offers 3 riverfront private campgrounds on both sides of the river, including Kenilworth Homestead and Bluff Creek Campground.

Access to the river is easy for swimmers and paddlers and at some campgrounds you can hire kayaks by the hour at a reasonable price. The swimming holes are mostly shallow ponds, with 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 . Google Kenilworth campingfor 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, nor 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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  • Elin Power

    Elin Power is a retiree from Brisbane with four adult children, two add-on partners, three grand dogs and three grand kitty cats.

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