Hepburn Pool in Hepburn Springs
Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria


 
Hepburn Pool is nestled in a gully of Spring Creek on the eastern side of Hepburn Springs in Central Victoria. This heritage listed pool was built in the late 1920s and operated until the late 1960s, when it was replaced by the Olympic swimming pool in Daylesford. The pool was restored in 1994 but closed again in the mid-2000s due to public safety risks. You can still access the pool, but swimming is prohibited under threat of a fine from the local council. Hepburn Pool - the former swimming pool at Hepburn Springs Above: Looking along the length of Hepburn Pool

The prohibition centres around the public liability insurance for the pool. The local council could not get suitable public liability insurance from its insurers, so it had to ban swimming at the pool or risk a costly lawsuit if someone injured themselves when swimming at the pool.
It seems pedantic, and ideally people should have enough common sense to be responsible for their own safety, but I can also understand the potential for someone to injure themselves here and the financial implications that this could have for the council if they were sued. Visibility in the water is low, and it is difficult to judge how deep the water is if you were jumping or diving in from the edge.

The pool itself has six lanes and is fifty yards in length (just under 50 metres). You can see the old lane numbers on the wall at the northern end, hidden amongst the poolside daisies. The steps down into the water are still visible, and the path alongside the eastern and northern sides is still navigable. Spring Creek trickles through the pool and spills over a little weir at the downstream end, and the whole area is enclosed in a blanket of bush and exposed rock on the surrounding hills that gives the pool a cozy feel. The pool is heritage listed by the National Trust, who considered it aesthetically important because it "successfully incorporates all the functions of a municipal swimming pool into an apparently natural environment" (Victorian Heritage Database Report B6890). There is one picnic table on the small lawn nearby plus a few benches scattered around. I recommend that you visit during the middle of the day, as the light disappears quickly in the afternoon at the bottom of this little gully. Hepburn Pool in 1938 Above: Swimmers at Hepburn Pool in its heyday in 1938 (Source: State Library of Victoria archives)

This swimming hole did not make it into my top 50 in Victoria. The main reasons being the fine that you risk being slapped with if you get into the water. There are several outstanding swimming holes in central Victoria that did make it into the top 50, so if you are looking for penalty-free swim in this area, grab a copy of the guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: The Poolway, Hepburn Springs, 110 km (approx. 1 hr 40 minute drive) north west of the Melbourne CBD
Latitude:-37.316065 Longitude:144.140697
Getting there: From Melbourne head out along the Western Fwy. Exit north from the Western Fwy (M8) at Ballan along the Ballan-Daylesford Rd (C141) through Daylesford to Hepburn Springs. The Poolway is a short dirt track (2WD suitable at the time of visiting) that runs off Sixth St in Hepburn Springs. There is enough room for several cars at the car park. It is a short (~50 metre) walk down steps to reach the pool. If Spring Creek is in flood, you can't walk across the small wooden boards to access the pool.
Facilities: Picnic tables, park benches, lawn, covered wood fire bbq (BYO wood)
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild
Water clarity: Murky
Under foot: Unknown, but likely to be stone and concrete with a covering of silt
Maximum water depth: 1-2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Not applicable, swimming not permitted
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No swimming, no diving, no alcohol, pick up your dog's droppings
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: None
Accommodation Options: There is no camping at Hepburn Pool, with the only designated camping area in the adjacent Hepburn Regional Park at the Mt Franklin Reserve, which is only accessible by road from Hepburn Pool. If you are planning to stay overnight in the area you can try accomodation in Hepburn Springs.
Managing authority: Hepburn Shire Council
Nearby attractions: Sailors Falls.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the location of the pool.
Comments:
If you have any memories of swimming at Hepburn Pool when it was still legal to do so, I would love to hear about them. Please fill in the comment box below.

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