Locals beware: crowds are flocking to waterholes such as Laughing Waters to keep cool. Photo: Meredith O'Shea
For most of the coming week, Melbourne will bake like a jug in a kiln - the days hovering around 40 degrees, and any breeze to speak of giving all the relief of a rash.
The swimming pool in the backyard will be a refuge - and then a torment when the water takes on the texture and warmth of drool. The beach? Well, it'll be great in the morning, until the sand glows like fresh-made glass, the salt water leaves you dehydrated and the people all around you lose their minds in the annihilating sunlight.
What to do?
Relief from the Heat at Melbourne Waterholes
Tiana Smarrelli at Laughing Waters swimming spot. Photo: Meredith O'Shea
The coolest places to be are the waterholes on the city's outskirts, havens the locals for a long time kept quietly to themselves. Belinda Smarrelli took her daughter Tiana, 5, down to Laughing Waters waterhole at Eltham on a recent warm day. ''It's peaceful and quite secluded. The sound of the waterfall is nice to listen to and it's a lot cooler,'' she says. ''More people know about it now these days, but it's still pretty relaxed.''
Performer Zya Kane started trekking out to Laughing Waters when it was a secret. ''You're in the shade, the water's cooler because it's fresh. It's just a very chilled place to be.''
Of late, she says, the word has got out and popularity has set in.
Social media may be largely to blame. A gentle day out in dappled sunlight and the honeyed air of the bush is soon communicated via blogs - such as beakersun.wordpress.com, authored by an American tourist, Leslie, who turned a day out at Laughing Waters into an outback adventure.
''We are driving along following Google's directions and end up on this one lane dirt road seemingly isolated from civilisation … we're all thinking, this doesn't look quite right.''
One of the first blogs to blow the whistle on Laughing Waters was by Nadia Saccardo at thethousands.com.au, who noted: ''Laughing Waters is one of the few places where the toxins in the Yarra aren't poisonously high … The swimming hole has everything you'd hope a swimming hole would have: a shallow bit for testing, a deep bit for swimming, a flat rocky bit for lying in the sun and a mini waterfall bit.
''Stay away from that bit. It looks like a fun slide but it is full of rocks that scrape the skin from your legs.''
She also mentioned the Lorne Rapids, Warrandyte's Pound Bend, Trentham Falls, MacKenzie Falls at the Grampians National Park and Hepburn Pool.
Other popular waterholes towards the Yarra Ranges include the Yarra River at Bourchiers Road, Kangaroo Ground and Blue Lake in Plenty.
The growing popularity of waterholes isn't always a happy business. The Sunday Age was barred entry to a place on private property at Strathewen - they didn't want the publicity, and the rowdy crowds that have started taking over the place. Locals only welcome.