Australia is world-famous as a swimming nation. We have a celebrated beach culture, not to mention more privately owned pools per person than any other country. Yet few urban Australians would consider swimming in their city’s river.
Almost every major Australian city sits on the banks of a large river. But judging by online reactions to the suggestion of a dip in the Brisbane River, most people are worried about everything from ear infections to a painful death from brain-eating amoebae.
Melbourne’s Yarra River has been the butt of many jokes, most famously when Norman Gunston extolled its virtues as the river where you could go fishing and land a catch pre-wrapped in newspaper. In Sydney and Perth people just prefer the beach.