Swimming holes in Sydney’s South West
Freshwater swimming holes are one of my favourite things and Sydney has some doozies.
I have spent years ogling the pictures of people lounging about in waterholes in the Northern Territory (the ones without crocodiles) so it was with great delight that I realised that my new neighbourhood has loads of swimming holes of its own.
I have been on a mission to check them out. Here are three of the best:
When people think of Campbelltown, NSW, they usually think of bogans, hock shops and the retail paradise that is Macarthur Square. It’s time to think again, friends. Campbelltown – or more accurately, Wedderburn – is home to Dharawal National Park where you will find the stunning Minerva Pool (pictured above). This sacred Aboriginal women’s site is a 20 minute walk from the main carpark over some rocky, but mostly, flat terrain. Once you arrive at the swimming hole, it’s a bit tricky getting into the water (the rock wall surrounding the pool is quite steep and the submerged rocks in the water are slimy, and therefore slippery).
It’s well worth the effort to get there and get in as it’s a truly special place to go for a dip. Without knowing anything about the Aboriginal heritage of the site except that it was for women, I can honestly say that I did sleep freakishly well after my swim and subsequently felt an emotional weight lift. Weird but true.
The Tharawal Land Council ask that only women and children swim in the pool but there’s a river further up that men can swim in.
We saw an Eastern Tiger Snake on the trail so I recommend wearing enclosed shoes. The terrain is a little rough so tread is a good idea anyway.
This place is basically the best surprise party ever. You drive in past all these hillbilly hobby farms and market gardens into what looks like – meh – a dry, boring carpark. But then you walk down the path and see it. The glorious expanse of Bents Basin. This swimming hole is huge. Set in a canyon surrounded by steep, rocky mountains, this natural waterhole has some small rapids up one end, and a river running out of it at the other. There is a walking track that goes all the way around, plenty of shaded picnic areas, as well as toilets, BBQs and a camping ground set about 500m away from the swimming hole.
It is in the middle of nowhere but it’s definitely worth the trip, especially if you’re taking a group that includes children and older people. There is a paved path that goes all the way from the carpark to the water, meaning you can take prams, mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
Another completely out-of-the-way place is the supremely gorgeous Mermaid Pool. The walk down to the pool from the carpark takes about a minute down a slight incline, and entry into the water is relatively easy. This is a good place to take kids as it’s relatively easy to get into the water but there aren’t any toilets on-site so come prepared. The nearest town is Tahmoor where you will find plenty of shops to buy picnic food.
There’s a lot of bad press around about people hurting themselves jumping off rocks into the water here – so please – just don’t.
Where are your favourite Sydney swimming holes? Any secret gems you would like to share?