The lure of free-camping directly next to a natural artesian hot spring was enough to drive us all the way to Pilliga, 100 km west of Narrabri. The girls love swimming, I prefer natural swimming holes, we all enjoy heated water — so this was a winning solution for us all!

Pilliga Hot Artesian Bore Baths, June 2014
In response to the town's diminishing water supply after several years of drought, in 1902 Pilliga sank a bore 560 metres and we can still enjoy its benefits today.

Pilliga Hot Artesian Bore Baths, June 2014
The bore has a continuous in-flow to the pool and an out-take on the other side, ensuring the water is always fresh. Once a week, cleaners come and add some chlorine (which is soon flushed out) to keep the growth of algae to a minimum — although the bottom and walls of the pool are still slightly slimy!

Pilliga Hot Artesian Bore Baths, June 2014
A shelter shades the pool from the harsh Australian sun and helps regulate the water's temperature to 37°C year-round.

This stop is one of the highlights of our drive north through NSW. Although it’s a small pool, it’s accessible, so close to where we parked, available at all hours of the day and night and populated by friendly campers and locals! Of course, it’s far away — pretty much in the middle of Woop Woop — but that adds to its allure as only the most determined make it this far.

Delaney in the Pilliga Hot Artesian Bore Baths, June 2014
Lana still loves the confidence her kickboard gives her and hasn't yet discovered how much more fun it is to swim unaided. Once I removed the flotation shapes from Lana's suit, she progressed quickly in her swimming skills.

Pilliga Hot Artesian Bore Baths, June 2014
We free-camped in the paddocks surrounding the bore baths with about thirty other rigs. Most of the other visitors were grey nomads, but all welcomed the presence of happy children in the pool without a fuss! Some of the travellers stay here for weeks, which surely is a great boost to the local economy.

Although we’ve driven through the area before, I hadn’t heard about the Pilliga bore before our friends Nathalie and Paul told me about the free-camp last year and confirmed the details with me when we last caught up in Melbourne. It’s wonderful to connect with other Australian travelling families because there are usually new places to explore along even the most familiar routes!