The vast artesian basin that lies underneath a huge portion of eastern Australia is tapped for agricultural irrigation … and recreation! We spent a day at the newly refurbished Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre to play in the geothermal pools.

Our day here is the culmination of a discussion we had while visiting Byron Bay earlier this month. The girls wanted to go swimming, but they found the water too cold to enjoy for very long. “Can’t we go to a hot pool?” they asked, and so I turned the bus inland and drove towards Moree.

Our family has been to these pools before, but when we visited, it was before $7million was spent on completely redesigning the complex. The renovations were completed in September last year, and the new patina hasn’t worn off yet. I hardly recognised the place as we walked through the door. Although we’re in a remote country town, the glossy finishings made me think we were back in the city!

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
Now that we're here and have paid for our entry, the girls rush to get into the warm water!

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
It looks spectacular, but the slide ($5 for three rides) is only open from 2pm-5pm on weekends, so we don't get to try it out.

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
The fifty-metre pool isn't heated, so it's perfect for lessons and swimming laps. We dipped our toes in and declared it to be too cool.

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
I appreciate all the shade sails over the pools and the spectator areas.

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
The hottest artesian pool is 41°C and features a number of jets.

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
Both artesian hot pools are busy with senior citizens — primarily those speaking Eastern European languages.

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
We choose to spend most of our time playing in the heated smaller pool. Calista regained her confidence in the water here, and I've started removing the foam inserts from Lana's floatsuit so she learns to swim without the added buoyancy.

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
The toddlers' play area was not turned on until after school hours (which doesn't make sense to me because many families with younger children go to the pool during school hours).

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
When it is turned on, the toddler area attracts kids of all ages!

Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW, October 2013
It's great to be back in the water again! I'm hoping that this is the summer during which Lana starts swimming independently.

The complex is great, and we spent the whole day playing together in the water. Overall, I thought the entry fee (we paid $50 for a day pass) was too much, especially as that cost doesn’t include the slide or the attached spa facilities.

At a price like that, we couldn’t visit more than one day, although I’ve since considered that perhaps a local caravan park with attached artesian hot pools could have been a more affordable option for our family. Moree is worth a return visit, especially now that we know about the rocket park, but I’ll be investigating other options for our hot pool playing.