Ever heard of the Emerald Pools in Popran National Park? Less than two hours from Sydney, it’s one of the sweetest wild swimming spots in the state. Hands down!


Quick Overview:

Emerald Pools walk is a grade 4, 5km hike along the Hominy Creek walking track in New South Wales’ Popran National Park that takes between 3 hours to complete. Driving from Sydney, it should about 1.5 hours to get there.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


  • The emerald waters
  • The Aussie bush – there’s nothing better
  • A perfect lazy adventure

Finding Emerald Pools

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’.


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 Emerald 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 head first, 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.

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes



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

Essential Gear

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

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

How To Get There

Ignore Google Maps! Follow 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!

Distance Covered / Duration

5km return / 3 hours with a swim

The Hominy Creek Track leads to the Emerald Pools. When you’re on the trail you’ll see different signage that’ll let you extend the walk if you’d like.