Discovering wild swimming spots near Sydney for that afternoon adventure might be one of the greatest pleasures mankind can ever experience.
Is Wild Swimming Legal?
It’s actually a common question that has a simple answer… YES! Wild swimming is legal.
Just make sure you know what you’re doing (you can actually swim) and don’t go meandering on any private property without permission. Other than that, wild swimming near Sydney has to be one of the best things you can do for a sneaky adventure.
Find a rock by the water, sunbake like a lizard and swim with no concern for the time. Trust us when we say you’ll feel better for it.
1. Laze The Day Away at Ladies Well
Location – Barrington Tops
Ditch the stress of the city and drive north to Ladies Well, a gorgeous swimming hole without a big walk-in. There’s a campsite nearby to optimise your driving-to-chillaxin’ ratio but if you don’t mind chucking on a few podcasts, this is a worthwhile day trip.
2. Jump Jerusalem Bay
Location – Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
The Hawkesbury lies one hour from Sydney but once you’re there, it feels like ten. It’s surrounded by bushland and dotted along its course and inlets are remote beaches for you to stick your metaphorical flag into for the day.
Accessible along the Great North Walk near Cowan Station but best reached via boat or kayak, this is certainly a place to put on your adventure bucket list.
For the rock-climbers among us, there’s a great spot at the end of the bay that allows for a lovely plop into the serene waters if you miss your grip!
3. Swim & Snap Insta Shots at Figure of Eight Pools
Location – Royal National Park
This mysterious place looks like a giant had several misfires with his hole punch. It’s a spectacular sight to behold and rewards the more intrepid hikers who venture to the south of the Royal National Park, approximately 500m south of Burning Palms Beach. It’s like a tight-arse’s hot tub, but an almightily cool way to impress your mates or your better half. Pack your cool box and get down there!
4. Discover Quiet Creek of Bungonia Canyon
Location – Bungonia National Park
Now this one’s to be treated with serious caution and is accessible only to those with the skills (and kahunas) to access it. Several epic waterfalls up to 70m high lie along Bungonia Creek Canyon and to descend to the string of swimming holes at the bottom you’ll need to abseil down to each one, with all the proper gear, skills and experience.
Alternatively, you could take the steep descent of the Red Track to the bottom of the gorge to find the pools on foot.
The views through the valley once you get down are nothing short of magnificent. Bungonia is located near Goulburn to the south-west of Sydney.
5. Find Luminescent Greens of Karloo Pools
Location – Royal National Park
Hiding in the Royal National Park are several cheeky wild swimming holes that grace the weekend explorers near Sydney. My fave is Karloo Pools; a little pocket of paradise that lies along the Karloo walking track starting at Heathcote train station.
That’s right, who says you need a car for weekend escapism?! Enjoy the views on the trek down and don’t forget your camera – this one’s an absolute beauty.
6. Go Off-road to Junction Pools
Location – Barrington Tops National Park
Accessed by 4WD only, this remote slice of heaven is an adventurer’s paradise found on the Barrington Tops Plateau region approximately five hours drive north of Sydney, through Gloucester and onto the Barrington Trail.
The river is a seriously inviting wild swim, winding through the valley into an impressive sight know as Black Swamp. In addition to your swimwear, don’t forget to pack your fishing rod – you may just be cooking up a BBQ fish dinner if you get lucky!
7. Embrace the Beauty of Mermaid Pools
Location – Tahmoor
Packing an extra pair of swimmers is advised for those brave enough to properly explore Mermaid Falls. It’s like the real-life dream of a cliff-jumper, such is the way that the sandstone cliffs have been carved out around the pools along Bargo River Gorge.
To get here you’ll need to drive an hour south west of Sydney to Tahmoor, and once at the Charles Point Road car park, it’s a 1.5 hr round trip to these infamous pools.
While you’re there, be careful and don’t do anything dumb. Emergency services are pretty sick of having to deal with juvenile behaviour here. Don’t become a statistic.
8. Have a Dip at Victoria Falls
Location – Blue Mountains National Park
Dips that follow profuse sweating are the best kind of dips. Fact. Once you catch your breath and look up to absorb your surroundings, it’s even better when you realise you’re paddling in Eden.
Welcome to Victoria Falls. Drive west via the Great Western Highway to the back of the Blue Mountains, and head right onto Victoria Falls Road. Once at the secluded car park, it’s a short and steep walk down to the cascading falls and inviting rock pool.
9. Seek Out Water at Nymphs Dell
Location – Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains
This quiet pool and series of waterfalls is only a short drive into the Blue Mountains, but you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. Bring a book and spend the day down here.
10. Snorkel The Burnt Out Catherine Hill Bay Jetty
Location – Catherine Hill Bay
Back in 2013, a fire burnt out this massive jetty that’s reminiscent of surf movies on the Californian coast (any Point Break fans out there?). It’s abandoned now but you can still snorkel or spearfish the underwater ruin.
Some of these places can get pretty busy when the mercury soars. As part of the WAE community, it’s important to make sure you’re looking after these special places so that many more can enjoy them into the future.
Feature image by @easternsuns