If you are chasing clear, warm water at the end of a fantastic 4WD track in the Pilbara, Running Waters is for you. In our recent 6 week trip, this was a huge highlight for us, and ranks up there with the best destinations I’ve ever been to in Australia, and that’s a seriously big statement.
The more we travel, the more we fall in love with this amazing country, and its places like Running waters that cement it to new levels.
Where is Running Waters?
You’ll find this incredible piece of paradise off Skull Springs Road, roughly 180km South East of Marble Bar, and 60km South of Carawine Gorge. You can get to Skull Springs Road from Woodie Woodie Road, or from Nullagine side.
Whoever first stumbled across Running Waters must have been absolutely gobsmacked, and those who visit today still feel the same. It’s basically a big natural pool around 10 metres wide that is a perfect green colour, and is spring fed.
Cold water flows in all year round, and hot water bubbles up, making it warm up one end and cooler towards the other.
It’s quiet, has some nice bird life and the scenery is next level incredible.
What’s the access like?
The 4WD track into Running waters has a solid reputation, and I can see that it could be challenging at times. You have to drive over a number of rocks and around some tight sections, with lots of water to go through.
We got a stock Mitsubishi Pajero in with minimal issues, with it only bottoming out once quite badly on the way out, but no damage (that we know of!).
If the water level was higher though, you’d have a hard time seeing the rocks and the likelihood of damage would be much higher. I did read of a Hilux getting a nice dent in its sump, which is not good.
There’s also very limited room to turn around, so if you meet someone on the way out you’d have a bit of fun. The good thing though is the more challenging part is quite short, and only takes a few minutes.
There is a decent area to park up at with a little ’round-a-bout’ prior to the more technical section starting. You could tow a small van into the roundabout section, but you’d be mad taking anything but a very capable camper trailer right to the waters edge.
We saw a 79 series tow a Tvan in but they had a hard time turning around and actually left as they couldn’t find anywhere level enough to set up for the night.
What are the camp sites like?
There’s only a handful of camp sites (maybe 5 if you are pushing it) that you’d be able to get a vehicle into. Only a couple of those are actually flat enough to camp outside of your vehicle in, so if you have a roof top tent you are certainly off to an advantage.
Most of the sites are within a couple of metres of the water, which makes it very special.
Can you swim?
Absolutely, and that’s the main attraction. The water is warm, fairly clear and has a number of interesting fish in it. Watch out for hidden logs, and get in and out carefully, but its a magic spot and the chances of a crocodile ever making its way here are almost impossible.
What makes the water warm?
When you arrive, if you turn to the right you’ll go to the start of the spring. If you jump into the water at the top, and snorkel around you’ll see a number of bubbles coming out of the ground, which is the hot springs bubbling up. This makes that end of the pool quite warm, and it gets colder as the water flows down.
You’ll see a number of water sources running into the pool and I actually ran up expecting it to be warm, but it was freezing, so just a naturally occurring spring that’s normal temperature.
Running waters is super special, and quite possibly the best place we’ve ever been to in Australia. If you do visit, look after it and leave it pristine for everyone else to enjoy!