Turpins Falls, Kyneton
Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria


 
Turpins Falls is a large billabong with a high rock wall on three sides. The pool itself is larger than an Olympic swimming pool, and archives show that it was home to the Turpins Falls swimming club back in the 1930s (e.g. The Argus, 2/4/1935) before municipal swimming pools came into vogue. It has also been a popular cliff diving location, but after a spate of recent deaths and severe head/spinal injuries, Parks Victoria have prohibited the practice. Low visibility in the water means that it is impossible to see underwater hazards and further deaths and injuries from jumping/diving would be difficult to prevent. The most recent incident that I'm aware of was in February 2016, when a woman was airlifted to hospital after injuring herself after jumping into the water (see Bendigo Advertiser, 23/2/16). Swimming at Turpins Falls on the Campaspe River Above: View of the billabong from the water's edge (Order gifts or prints of this image)

With better access, the falls could easily be a significant tourist attraction in the region, such is the impressive size of the rock ledge over which the falls flow. Even if you do not feel like a swim, it is worth a visit just to view the falls. However, road access and signage is poor, and the quality of water in the Campaspe River can also be poor at times. The upside of this is that outside of hot summer weekends, you can usually enjoy your swim here in peace.

The steps down to the falls are quite steep, and there are also some rocks to scramble over to reach the water. Best entry for swimming is at the river outlet of the pool, where entry is shallow and gradual. Entry off the rocks can be hazardous because the water gets deep quickly, and there are patches of cold water. On my swim here, I also came across a snake in the water, on its way across the pool to sun itself on the rocks on the opposite side. Whilst snakes will generally avoid rather than confront people, and this one avoided me despite being quite close, I'd suggest wearing enclosed footwear on the way down the steps and to the water.

Here is a video that I took when visiting the falls. There was only a thin stream running down the falls but plenty of water in the pool below.

Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Shillidays Road, Langley, 100 km (approx. 70 minute drive) north-west of the Melbourne CBD.
Latitude:-37.134102 Longitude:144.481779
Getting there: Exit north from the Calder Fwy at the Edgecombe Rd (C326) turnoff near Kyneton. Travel for 11 km then turn left at the East Metcalfe-Langley Road. Follow this road for 4 km, crossing the Campaspe River, then turn right at Shillidays Road. The Turpins Falls turnoff is 1.3 km further, on the right hand side. Roads near the falls are dirt road, but accessible to 2WD vehicles.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild to cold
Water clarity: Murky
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Always open
Facilities, conditions under foot in the water, minimum swimming proficiency required, and prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: Order the full guide
Wheelchair access: None
Accommodation Options: Camping is not permitted at Turpins Falls. If you are staying overnight in the area you can try accomodation in nearby Kyneton.
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: Swimming at Expedition Pass Reservoir, 20 km to the north-west of Turpins Falls.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information. Specific to this site, jumping off the cliffs is prohibited and history says it involves significant risk of injury. According to local man Ian from Langley (29/7/17), the cold water was also a factor in previous drownings at this site, so make sure you acclimatise to the water gradually.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the location of the car park at the falls.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by swimmers on this website. If you are visiting this swimming spot and have an update on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
Here are a few queries I have received about swimming at the falls and some field reports:

Comment:"I visited today and it was so busy, there would have been more than 200 people visiting! There were cars all the way from the start of the walk down to the road. Looks like it is getting more popular." - Ash from Kerang, Victoria, Australia 7/1/2017, which was a 36 degree day in Melbourne.

Comment:"Went to Turpins Falls yesterday. Spectacular and your guide very useful. Water quite warm in the main pool. A few good spots to jump into main pool. The water below was at least 10 foot deep. Next time we will take some inflatables and float around. Definitely best to wear shoes for the walk down. Can be slippery in places when getting in. Need to remind people never to take glass bottles down there." - Greg from Essendon North, Victoria, Australia 31/12/2016.

Comment:"How deep is the Turpins falls pool? I was just talking with mates and someone had heard it was meant to be ridiculously deep that's all." - Lachy from Bendigo, Victoria, Australia 31/12/2014

My reply: Around the downstream edge, the pool is shallow and you can walk in. Close to the wall and the falls the pool depth varies. When I swam there I couldn't touch the bottom near the falls when treading water, so it is at least 2 metres deep. The problem is the visibility - you can't see the bottom because the river water is turbid. I spoke to the ranger who looks after Turpins Falls and he said that in Autumn they have to close access to the pool when the river is low because the pool is shallower than people think and they end up injuring themselves.

Geoff from Melbourne (formerly of Kyneton) added to the legend of the unfathomable depths of the billabong at Turpins Falls by commenting (2/8/16) that "I lived in Kyneton and we would go there as kids. Diving off the falls all the time. No one I know of has ever touched the bottom no one knows how deep it is.", whilst Jezza from Kyneton said it must be well over 2 metres deep otherwise you would be able to touch the "cars and other vehicles that have ended up in there" if it were less than that (29/12/16). Ian from Langley witnessed police divers head into the water to check if one of those stolen cars contained a missing person. Fortunately it didn't, but the divers confirmed a water depth of 30 feet (9 metres) down to the submerged vehicle (29/7/17). Having said that, Ian also reported that he and his kids have swum there for many years.

Comment:"Do you know how high the falls are? We have visited the falls a few times, beautiful spot. P.S. Your site is a great source of info!" - Erin from Lancefield, Victoria, Australia 7/2/2015

My reply: I've not seen an official survey of its height. When I visited I coarsely estimated it to be around 15-20 metres. Some media sources have reported it to be "more than 20 metres" (e.g. The Age 27/3/2013) when reporting on people injuring themselves when jumping off the rocks. If you are more interested in the falls than the swimming hole below it, there might be more information of interest about the falls here.

Comment:"Awesome site thank-you. We headed there on Sunday and the water was low, but really nice and cold. The waterfall was not falling so the flow of water was not too good. But a really good spot and it was quite busy as well." - Sam from Rochester, Victoria, Australia 8/3/2016

My reply: Yes, it's not unusual for the falls to stop flowing in late summer and early autumn, but I'm glad there was still enough water in the billabong for a swim.

If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming hole, please fill in the comment box below. I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions.

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