Hands up if you’re a Sydney-sider who’s never heard of Popran National Park? Well, luckily, we’re here to let you in on the secret. Less than a two hour drive from the city you’ll find a lil’ bush track that leads you to one of the sweetest wild swimming spots in the state. 

My housemate Joelle and I had decided to chill for the weekend, but when Saturday came around and the sun was shining we knew we had to escape somewhere, at least for a little while. The deal was that it had to be close to Sydney, somewhere we’d never been before, and not too taxing as we were feeling kinda lazy (hey, even adventurers are allowed a down day).

The Google Fairies were on our side; within a few minutes of research we stumbled across a walk in Popran National Park, leading to the alluringly named ‘Emerald Pools’.

Sold. A quick call to another mate, Kirrily, to see if she wanted to join and we were on our way. Less than two hours later – after Google Maps sent us to completely the wrong place – we were parked up on Ironbark Road (be careful if you’re in a 2WD, it’s a little bit bumpy) and ready to go.

A Nice And Easy Bushwalk 

The walk to the pool is called Hominy Creek Track and is a quintessential Aussie bush track. It’s mainly fire trail and during spring – when we were there – it was surrounded by brightly coloured banksia. Don’t expect anything too adventurous or tricky – it’s simply a nice little leg stretch.

But when we rounded the corner, we wondered how on earth Emerald Pools had not been on our radar before. The colour of sparkling emeralds (duh), we could see nothing but the reflection of the trees, rocks, and ourselves glinting back. It was seriously stunning and we were the only ones around to enjoy it.

Dive In Headfirst. Well, Not Really

We hadn’t really planned to swim (the whole way we’d been saying it was too cold, despite the sun) but when something looks that good, you gotta take a dive right?

So we did. We opted for the tentative ‘walk-in-really-slowly-even-though-you-know-it-makes-it-feel-colder-but-you-really-don’t-want-to-jump-in-because-it-is-bloody-freezing’ technique. What felt like five hours later, we were finally in the pool. Two quick laps, some obligatory photos, and we were back on the bank marvelling at the little bit of bush paradise we’d discovered and had all to ourselves.

It was the perfect lunch spot too, so after a bit of food, and some time to dry out we headed back to the car. Popran National Park – the perfect mini adventure.

Essential Gear

  • Swimmers and towel (although one of us forgot our swimmers and undies did the trick. Not naming names though)
  • Lunch – Emerald Pools is a sweet spot for a picnic
  • Walking shoes/trainers

How To Get There

By ignoring Google Maps. Or at least by closely correlating it with the directions from NSW National Parks.  

Skill Level

The hike is easy. The swim is easy. It’s just the jumping in that’s a bit difficult!

Remember, wild swimming can be dangerous, here are our tips!

Distance Covered / Duration

Three hours with a swim. The Hominy Creek Track leads to Emerald Pools and is 5km return. When you’re on the trail you’ll see different signage that will let you extend the walk if you’d like.


 Take That Leap Of Faith And Dive In

Wild Swimming // Noosa Fairy Pools (QLD)

Wildflowers And Waterfalls At America Bay (NSW)

A Water Baby’s Playground // Blue Pools (VIC)

Bridge Jumping At Blue Pools // Haast Pass (NZ)