Few things clear the mind and soothe an aching body like soaking in a hot spring. While Australia may not have the active volcanoes usually associated with these natural sites, we do have the Great Artesian Basin – the world’s largest and deepest artesian system, which runs close to a quarter of the continent. Thermal pools form when groundwater seeps through the bedrock and is heated by the earth’s core. Slip into the geothermal waters of these ancient pools and boutique stays with our round-up of the best hot springs in Australia.
Alba Thermal Springs & Spa
Surrounded by the coastal Moonah woodland on the Mornington Peninsula, 22 of this new thermal spa’s 31 pools are modern geothermal springs. They have special dawn bathing sessions, along with botanical, cold-plunge, rooftop and rain pools. Plus, a restaurant with an all-day Mediterranean-inspired menu by Melbourne chef Karen Martini.
Peninsula Hot Springs
This award-winning geothermal spa on the Mornington Peninsula has more than 70 water and wellness experiences, from Nepalese massage showers and Japanese watsu aqua therapy to bathing under a moonlit sky. And they’re not stopping there. The team will open Metung Hot Springs in Gippsland later this year.
Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa
Established in 1895, Australia’s oldest mineral spring bathhouse is an easy 90-minute drive north-west of Melbourne. Bubbling up from Hepburn Mineral Springs, healing waters are fed into historic buildings which house bathing and spa pools, and private baths infused with everything from magnesium to Moroccan milk enzymes.
New South Wales
Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool
A hiker’s delight, this thermal pool in Kosciuszko National Park, around three hours’ drive from Canberra, is fed by a natural spring and is a cosy 27 degrees celsius year-round. The man-made main pool cascades into a children’s wading pool and can be accessed via a short but steep walk.
Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre
It was a happy accident that led to the discovery of geothermal waters in Moree in 1895. While searching for a reliable source of water for irrigation, a bore was sunk into the Great Artesian Basin. More than a century later, the mineral-rich waters fill two outdoor pools and an indoor hydrotherapy pool at this popular regional complex.
Lightning Ridge Hot Bore Bath
Surrounded by bushland just outside the opal-mining town of Lighting Ridge, these circular open-air baths are much loved by locals. Not least of which because they’re open 24 hours. There’s surely no nicer way to start or end the day than by watching sunrise or sunset from a therapeutic 41.5-degree-Celsius pool.
In Witjira National Park near the Simpson Desert, about 600 kilometres south-east of Uluru, are these remote and special springs. “They were used by the Arrernte and Wangkangurru peoples for thousands of years as a source of food, shelter and medicine,” says National Parks and Wildlife Service district ranger Travis Gotch.
There are many reasons to book a stay at this new Mount Lofty luxury retreat in the Adelaide Hills, and among them is its access to ancient natural spring waters. There are three artesian thermal pools, one of which overlooks the valley rim, and the spring also feeds the estate’s taps and bottled water.
Along the Oodnadatta Track, this heritage-listed property was once a railway station and is now a working date farm and eco campsite. It has its own “natural spa”, a 29-degree-Celsius borehole on the edge of the wetland. It’s also about six kilometres from the well-known Blanche Cup and The Bubbler mound springs.
Although it requires significant effort to get to, this unique hot spring surrounded by palms in the East Kimberley is worth the journey. Open during the dry season (May to September) in the 700,000-acre wilderness of luxury lodge El Questro, the easiest way to visit is on a half-day tour.
One to watch: Tawarri Hot Springs
Plans for a new hot spring wellness centre are bubbling away on the banks of the Swan River, just outside Perth’s CBD in Dalkeith. Plus Architecture hopes to transform the site of Dalkeith Hot Pool into a spa-like facility with indoor and outdoor thermal pools, a restaurant and a two-storey treatment centre.