First published on 21 Nov 2011. Updated on 19 Feb 2014.
Melbourne may not be blessed with quite the comely coastlines and sparkling seas of our northern cousins, but we certainly didn't shiver through winter just to turn a dribbly hose on our heads. The city is chockas with secret splashing spots and creative places to take a dive, from fountains to festivals. Check out the Time Out guide to all activities aquatic... Glen Iris' Harold Holt Swim Centre not included: what on earth were they thinking?
Reckon the artistes and aesthetes of 3065 are too cool for pool? Think again. This ye olde institution is the one place the pale peeps of the Northside are willing to strip off at outside of op-shop changing rooms. Ogle a rockgod in dicktogs! Discover what hipsters' knees look like! Fitzroy.
It may not exactly be sanctioned soaking, but when your parasol starts melting around your ears, who cares? Melbourne is blessed with dunk-worthy bubblers, from the ornate spouts of the Hochgurtel Fountain at the Royal Exhibition Building to the Coles Fountain's water-umbrellas at Parliament Gardens. And if they didn't want anyone swimming in it, why did the National Gallery make theirs looks so much like a pool? Various Locations.
If you'd rather be on the water than in it, get thee to Australia's oldest operating boathouse (1864). This Yarraside stalwart hires out rowboats, kayaks and canoes for gentle floatings past scenery so serene you'll forget you're in the Big Smoke. Kew.
This hybrid of flying and surfing lends literal meaning to the word "aeronautical". Big on the Southside, this is apparently the fastest-growing water sport in the world. But don’t let the s-word put you off: kiteboarding is blessedly suitable even for those of an, ahem, “moderate” fitness level. St Kilda.
SUP, as it's known to laid-back outdoorsy types, also claims to be the fastest-growing water sport in the world, which could make for an interesting battle for the title somewhere down the line. But until the water war comes, give what the Hawaiians call "hoe he'e nalu" a go: it's basically calm-water surfing with a crutch (okay, "oar"). Various Locations.
DO beat around the bush! This popular pedal-path between Fawkner and Clifton Hills meanders through native bushland, past the old Pentridge Prison and the slightly more salubrious CERES eco-park. The creek isn't exactly laps-worthy, but it's great for a quick splash or soaking tired tootsies. Fitzroy.
With Melbourne's esoteric laneway bars and rooftop nooks now about as underground as an RSL pint-n-parma, local pubmeister Jerome Borazio has taken curious quaffing to the next. This nautical honkytonk proves that drinking under a bridge isn't just for deros anymore. And after a few pints, the Yarra comes over as beguiling as Bondi. Melbourne.
Thrashing, gasping and, as the name would suggest, splashing are the go here, with a "speed slide", inflatable obstacle course and wave pool all designed to make you feel like a gigantic, if flailingly awkward, kid again. Albert Park.
Raucous sloshing about not your thing? A gentle dousing in these soul-steadying waters will cure what ails ya. It's all about relaxation and ritual, from pre-bath preparations to the dreamy shiatsu massage post-dip. Collingwood.
Moomba may not be on until March, but nobody said you couldn’t start working on your Birdman Rally flying machine now. Tip: Make sure the wings don't work. You WANT to get wet. Around Melbourne.