The beautiful-one-day, perfect-the-next Queensland capital was built for bathers. Boasting more than 280 days of sunshine every year, sub-tropical Brisbane may not have any surf beaches – unlike most of the other Australian capitals – but what it lacks in wild waves, it makes up for in wonderful watering holes in every other form.
Brisbane’s Best Swimming Pools
SPRING HILL BATHS
Built in 1886, not only are the Spring Hill Baths Brisbane’s first in-ground pool, but it is the oldest surviving pool in the Southern Hemisphere. Lovers of nostalgia will adore this heritage-listed facility with its classic Victorian-era change rooms and grandstand seating. While the pool itself is not quite 25 metres, at a curious 23.43 metres long, there’s plenty to do here from aqua aerobics classes to lazy laps.
Getting there: Catch the train to Roma Street Station and take a leisurely stroll through the fragrant Roma Street Parklands. It’s a short, uphill walk from here to the Spring Hill Baths, by which time you’ll be ready for a refreshing dip.
Address: 14 Torrington Street, Spring Hill
Phone: 07 3054 4359
THE UQ SPORT AQUATIC CENTRE
Perched on the banks of the Brisbane River at the University of Queensland, the UQ Sport Aquatic Centre is a favourite with this writer, not only for its wonderful wading, but also its gutsy history. Decimated in the 2011 Brisbane floods, it rose from the rubble even better, if not bigger, than the original 50-metre outdoor pool.
Rumours abound that when it was rebuilt it fell centimetres short of the Olympic standard, but that doesn’t stop swimmers from lapping this venue up, in every sense of the word. Even better, in recent years, they’ve built an outdoor heated 25-metre pool, and there’s also a fully-shaded pool for babies, toddlers and small children.
On a hot Brissie day, there’s no better place to linger, with a small café, plenty of chairs for spectators, grass for sunbathers and picnic tables. Open from 4am in summer (when the sun rises in Brisbane), there are classes and squads galore to enjoy here.
Getting there: A lovely way to arrive at this swimming spot from the city is via the CityCat to the University of Queensland Ferry Terminal.
Address: Cnr Blair Dr and Union Rd The University of Queensland, St Lucia
Phone: 07 3365 6047
I know we said there were no surf beaches in Brisbane, but Streets Beach at South Bank is a twist on the traditional. Australia’s only lifeguard-patrolled inner-city beach, Streets snatches pole position looking back towards the CBD.
There are no waves, but this man-made lagoon, replete with crystal white sand, is popular with both residents and tourists who adore its tropical palm trees. There’s plenty of free aqua programs here, or simply join the hordes for a sassy splash.
Getting there: From the CBD walk across Victoria Bridge or catch a CityCat across the river to South Bank Ferry Terminal.
Address: Stanley Street Plaza, Brisbane City
Phone: 07 3156 6366
Beautiful Bays + Beaches
An easy 30-minute drive north-east of the CBD, head to Suttons Beach at Redcliffe where you are spoilt for choice. Laze in the man-made Redcliffe Lagoon, with a splash park for kids, or join the closest thing Brisbane has to an ocean swim group.
Every second Sunday, Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit conducts open-water training sessions in the safe waters of Moreton Bay. Learn everything from starts, to pack swimming, turn buoys, sighting, drafting, and finishes. Suttons is also home to an adorable art deco bathing pavilion dating back to 1937.
TANGALOOMA ISLAND RESORT
Perched on Moreton Island, Tangalooma Island Resort is a 75-minute catamaran cruise from Brisbane, but well worth the effort. Once there, pop on your goggles and your fins (the current here is greater than it looks) and head straight out to the Tangalooma shipwrecks for a sensational swim among the abundant fish life here. Home to a resident pod of dolphins you can feed under guidance at night, during winter, and if you’re lucky, you may encounter a migrating humpback whale too.
Best Brisbane Hotel Swimming Pools
EMPORIUM HOTEL SOUTH BANK
If there’s anything better than an infinity pool overlooking the Brisbane River, than we’d like to know what it is. Head to the 21st floor of the Emporium Hotel South Bank for its 23 metre infinity-edge rooftop pool which offers birds eye views of the city. Even better, book one of its three, resort-style Poolside Cabana Suites, and you have direct access to this heavenly watering hole.
Address: 267 Grey Street, South Bank
It was Australia’s first hi-tech hotel, so it stands to reason that this inner CBD establishment also boasts a pretty pool. While Brisbane’s beautiful like to flock to the terrace for Friday afternoon drinks, serious swimmers will appreciate the slender lap pool, which floats above the Queen Street Mall, to carve off a few calories before they join the cocktail crowd.
Sleep the night in your upmarket room with all the technical trimmings – this hotel even offers futuristic sleep pods downstairs for business guests between meetings.
Address: 72 Queen Street, Brisbane
It’s one of the latest, and most fabulous, entrants into the Brisbane hotel game and it comes with its own rooftop pool overlooking the new and funky riverfront precinct of Howard Smith Wharves. While this pool is more for plonking than any serious swimming, even lap lovers will appreciate its infinity edge from which you can gawp at the Brisbane River or the underbelly of the Story Bridge. There’s a divine terrace here for post-pool drinks. Stay in one of this art-series hotel’s 166 suites, which come replete with edgy artworks. Forget swimming, you’ll be floating on one of their divine beds.
Address: 5 Boundary Street, Brisbane City
Looking for a quirky, quintessential Queensland experience? For the past few summers, Queensland’s cricket cauldron, the “Gabba” has introduced a pop-up pool deck. Measuring six by eight metres, this swimming pool squats right on the sidelines of the cricket, enabling you to cool down while the game heats up. With two large decks, seating, tables and shade, this special area is designed to welcome 140 people at any one time. Entry is via invitation only, but savvy sports fans who dress up in costume and share their experience on social media are likely to score an invite for a divine dip. This writer believes this is the only way to experience a Brisbane summer of cricket and hopes to see this pop-up pool again this year.
Address: Vulture Street, Woolloongabba
Wild Swimming Around Brisbane
Check out these articles to find waterfalls and waterholes near to Brisbane.
Can you add to this list of wonderful swimming spots in Brisbane?
Do let us know in the comments. Share the swim love!