There’s nothing quite like sliding into a natural pool of hot water, as it bubbles out from the earth. Australia has some amazing Hot springs, but not all of them are very well known.
We’ve been to some of them, and the list keeps growing:
Francois Peron National Park
Now, I’m not sure this exactly qualifies as a hot springs, but it is water that comes from the ground, heated deep down underground, and flows up. It was originally dug and used for commercial purposes, and now is purely a tourist attraction and something the wildlife love.
It’s right at the beginning of the Francois Peron National Park, and is easily accessible. You can sit in a big tub, roughly 3 metres wide, and the water is hot. When I say hot, I mean hot – you can get in, if you do it slowly, but you wont be able to stay in for more than about 10 minutes! It’s the perfect place to stop to and from the National Park, and really well worth a look.
WA has some pretty highly rated Station Stays, and Wooramel Station is up there with the best. With a massive area along a beautiful river (which is often not visibly flowing) and two great artesian hot springs it extremely popular, and a great place to soak your worries away.
One of my favourite places in WA is Running Waters out from Marble Bar. Whilst its not your typical hot springs, its a big pool of water that is warm up one end, and has such spectacular scenery that its almost hard to believe.
You need a 4WD to get here, and the last part is quite rough and technical, but its well and truly worth the effort to get there.
Zebedee Hot Springs at El Questro
El Questro is a massive station in the Kimberley, and is home to Zebedee Springs; crystal clear, small but absolutely stunning. A short gravel road in from the homestead takes you to a small parking area, and then you walk along various board walks and along the track to the springs. They are quite small, and extremely popular, so get there at 7AM when the gates open, or expect to share it with a lot of other people.
These sit at 27 degrees, and are quite comfortable to spend a long time in. The biggest pool is right at the top, and you can fit about 4 – 5 people in fairly tightly.
This is shut at mid day every day, to bring the exclusive guests in and to allow the springs some time to regenerate (or so they say!)
Emma Gorge mini hot springs at El Questro
The walk to Emma Gorge is fantastic, and it starts about 30 minutes drive away from the El Questro Homestead. The pool itself is pretty cold, and refreshing. However, when you enter, you’ll see a rock on the right side of the pool, which you can swim around, into a little area thats sort of hidden away.
There’s a little trickle of a hot spring that runs into the pool, and you can sit there and have a bit of a break from the freezing water.
Be aware that this part of the pool seems to be popular with the cane toads, and you may need to shoo a few of them into the cold water to have it to yourself!
Katherine Hot Springs
Katherine hot springs are easily accessible, and substantially bigger than any of the others listed so far. If you are staying at the Riverview Caravan Park, you can exit via the rear gate and walk down. If you aren’t, you can drive into the carpark right there, and walk down.
The walk down is nothing amazing, but the springs are beautiful, and well shaded. These have been fairly well modified for access to those in wheel chairs, and for ease of access by a lot of people. There are board walks, ladders, stairs, hand rails, concreted areas and the floor has been covered in a gravel to keep it nice and clear.
If you can visit these when no one else is there, they are 10 times better than when you have to share it with 50 other people, and you can easily fit 50 other people in. There are 3 larger pool areas, with a small creek section that flows for quite some time.
The pool at the top is the largest and deepest, and also warmest as its closest to the source. It’s suggested you don’t bring any valuables to the pool as they have a habit of going missing.
Magical hot springs, Lorella Station
Lorella Springs is an amazing place. It easily tops the best 5 places I’ve been to in Australia, and the hot springs contribute to this substantially. The drive in is a bit of a slog; its a reasonably long drive, with lots of creek crossings, wash outs and rocky sections. Upon arriving though, you are met with a beautiful oasis at the homestead; green grass, a lovely decked area, bar, cold drinks and very welcoming hosts.
Just 30 metres down from the deck lies the Magical hot springs, which are warm but still not hot enough to stay in forever; in fact after about 30 minutes you are feeling pretty chilled.
This is almost completely natural; its just a beautiful warm flowing bit of water. I suspect they may have dammed the end up a little to make the pool higher, but its got a lovely little waterfall and kids pool at the end.
Cattle stock yard hot springs, Lorella Station
This hot spring was actually missed by us; we completely forgot to check it out on our returns back to camp at Lorella. It is shut from time to time when the cattle mustering is on, but I’d have loved to look at it!
Nudie hot springs, Lorella Station
If warm hot springs are your thing, Nudie hot springs is the place to go. The name is just that; you don’t actually have to bathe nude, and its an amazing spot. The water is almost like a bath, and you can swim further towards the source and it gets even hotter.
A short, maybe 50 metre walk through the bush takes you to the source; water that is nearly 50 degrees, bubbling slowly out of a rock. You can dip your feet in, but not for long!
Mataranka Hot Springs
Mataranka has two hot springs – the thermal pool at Mataranka Homestead, and the one below. The thermal pool has had a lot of man made intervention – there is a boardwalk to take you there, concrete steps in and out, lots of ledges to sit in and heaps of concrete. In essence, its almost a swimming pool that is constantly fed by warm spring water.
You sit under the palm trees, there’s a fair bit of room to move around, and yep, its beautiful. However, being so easy to access and right next to a caravan park means that its often packed full of people, something I am not so fond of.
I reckon there would have been 100 people lined pretty much shoulder to shoulder the first time we visited, at about 3PM.
Don’t get me wrong; these are stunning and worth a look, but I firmly believe Bitter Springs is the better option.
Bitter Springs, Mataranka
This hot spring totally blew me away. They were doing some work when we arrived, so you had to detour around and walk the path for about 10 minutes to get there, but when you arrive, its such a beautiful place.
Initially I was a bit concerned about the number of cars in the carpark, but this hot spring is pretty large, and there’s a fair bit of room to spread around. Unlike the Mataranka Homestead thermal pool, this is largely left to nature, with only a few man made entry points, a bridge and one small concrete path.
You hop in at one point, and float down the stream about 100 metres to the exit point, hopping out, walking the concrete path back to the start and doing it all over.
This is much more untouched, and with this comes a few logs in the water and spider webs outside of the main area you drift through. The water, even with a lot of people in it is mind bogglingly clear.
I visited the following morning on my own, walking in just as the sun was coming up, and saw steam coming off the hot springs, a few random animals and had the place to myself; such a magic spot and easily the best hot spring that I’ve been to so far.
Now, there’s plenty more hot springs in Australia, and as we explore them we’ll add them to the list. Where’s your favourite?