Sinking into a soothing hot spa is a welcome retreat wherever you are, but it doesn’t have to be in the corner of a swish hotel room, with glass of sparkling in hand.
There are natural hot springs bubbling up in almost every Australian state.
Here’s a quick guide where to find the ultimate in relaxation.
Talaroo Hot Springs, Queensland
The dry savannah landscape of Queensland’s remote Gulf Country leads to the newly accessible Talaroo Hot Springs, opening in June.
The former cattle station on the Einasleigh River was bought on behalf of the traditional owners, the Ewamian people, several years ago, and Ewamian rangers have been managing it as an Indigenous Protected Area and Nature Refuge.
The opening of the Springs means the Ewamian people can more fully share the region’s natural and culture heritage, and their spiritual connection to Country.
The rare mound springs are fed by water that travels after falling in the Newcastle Ranges and bubbles up at a toasty 53 to 63 degrees. The healing waters in the designer-landscaped main bathing pools are a soothing 35 degrees year-round.
There are camp and caravan sites here – you can even get a barista coffee. Talaroo is a four-and-a-half hour drive from Cairns.
Insider tip: If you don’t want to drive, take the retro, 1960s ‘silver-bullet’ railmotor known as the Savannahlander.
Innot Hot Springs, Queensland
En route to Queensland’s famed Undara Lava Tubes, halfway between Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands and Mount Garnet, the region’s geothermal waters percolate up and into Nettle Creek, in the tiny town of Innot Springs.
Even in the 1900s the water was renowned – bottled and shipped to Europe for its health-giving properties.
You can pay to soak in one of the six temperature-controlled pools at Innot Springs Health and Leisure Park. Or you can take a dip in the shallow sandy creek’s mineral waters for free.
Insider tip: Check the temperature first as it can be surprisingly hot.
Artesian Waters – not boring at all
The source of most of the Outback thermal springs is the sprawling underground Great Artesian Basin in Queensland, which covers more than a fifth of the continent.
The hot, mineral-rich artesian waters that bubble up through cracks are said to rejuvenate and re-hydrate the skin, assist with detoxifying the lymphatic system, help with joint pain, rheumatic conditions and offer numerous other health benefits.
Moree, New South Wales
There is so much artesian bore water gurgling up around north-west New South Wales that there is a Great Artesian Drive, linking different bathing pools.
Moree is hot-water headquarters – when you reach the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre (MAAC) you’ll see why. The multimillion-dollar centre includes a waterslide, kids splash park and day spa, but also two artesian hot pools, their mineral-rich waters naturally heated to 38 and 40 degrees, perfect to soak those weary bones.
Insider tip: MAAC is a magnet for locals and grey nomads. Arrive early.
Mataranka Springs, Northern Territory
In the semi-arid environs of Mataranka in the Top End, amid forests of stringybark and bloodwood trees in Elsey National Park there is an oasis of thermal spring pools.
The natural springs pump out about 30 million litres of water a day, and it bubbles up, crystal clear and green, at a spa-like 30-ish degrees.
Cabbage palms surround the sandy-bottomed pool, which has rock walls, steel steps. Soaking in the healing waters is a definite bucket-list item.
Insider tip: There’s also a quieter, more rustic pool at nearby Bitter Springs.
Dalhousie Springs, South Australia
Another oasis can be found on the western edge of the Simpson Desert in Witjira National Park. About 180 kilometres north-east of Oodnadatta, you really are in the Outback – this is serious four-wheel-drive territory.
About 70 active mound springs produce thermal waters, with Dalhousie Springs the largest and most famous.
The mineral-dense waters are on average 34 to 43 degrees. Indigenous people have used these springs for generations and they have a strong mythological significance.
You can camp here, but there’s not much shade.
Insider tip: Small native fish live in these waters, including the Dalhousie goby.
Zebedee Thermal Springs, Western Australia
Within the Kimberley’s El Questro Wilderness Park, about an hour’s drive from Kununurra, the Zebedee Hot Springs have movie-star good looks.
The warm pools are reached by a walk through lush green livistonia and pandanus palms, and overlooked by sandstone cliff faces.
Insider tip: You need a day pass for access (the pools are open 7am to noon).
Peninsula Hot Springs, Victoria
At the luxurious Peninsula Hot Springs on Mornington Peninsula, a deep bore taps into an aquifer that pushes 54-degree geothermal waters almost to the surface.
You can soak in the family-friendly bathhouse, have a private bath, tip-toe through a reflexology pool, or dip into pools heated or cooled to different temperatures. All while surrounded by fabulous native vegetation and landscaping,
There are also saunas, an ice cave, a hammam, massage treatments, restaurant and more.
Insider tip: The rocky hilltop spa pool and moonlight spa bathing are pretty special. Book well ahead.