Get there early: Daisy, 3, enjoys a swim at Lake Parramatta. Photo: Fiona MorrisSix of the best swimming holes
Mermaid Pools, Tahmoor
The beautiful Mermaid Pools is one of Sydney’s hidden gems, but definitely not for the faint-of-heart. Drive to the car park off Charles Point Road in Tahmoor before hiking for 45 minutes to the secluded watering hole. The only way to enter the water is either a 10- or 20-metre plunge, after which you’ll need to pull yourself out with a rope. The cascading waterfall that feeds into the pool is a part of the Bargo River Gorge.
Lake Parramatta, Parramatta
Residents of Parramatta need look no further than their own backyard to cool off this summer at Lake Parramatta, which is located just two kilometres within the Parramatta CBD. Reopened earlier this year, swimmers can cool off in the designated swimming area which is surveilled by lifeguards on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. There’s a children’s playground, barbecue facilities and a visitors’ kiosk open on weekends. Enter the reserve from Lackey Street via Bourke Street, North Parramatta, but get in early on busy days as there are only 68 parking spots.
Karloo Pools, Royal National Park
For an oasis of crystal clear water tucked away in pristine bushland, head to Karloo pools. Accessible via an 11-kilometre track through the Royal National Park, the pools are a bit of a hike but every bit worth it. If you want to stay the night, camping is available at Uloola Falls. Hope off the train at Heathcote station on the east side and follow the signs until you get to Karloo track for a weekend escape that’s not too far away.
Kingfisher Pool, Heathcote
Located in Heathcote National Park, the hike to Kingfisher Pool is child-friendly, so you can bring the whole family. The idyllic foreshore of the pool makes for an ideal picnic location and make sure to bring binoculars so you can observe the spectacular natural wildlife along the way. A camp ground is positioned about 20 metres above the tranquil pool, giving you the option to stay overnight if you wish. Get off at Waterfall station and walk to Warabin St to begin the walk.
Clarence Dam, Blue Mountains
Tucked away in the Blue Mountains, Clarence Dam is the perfect way to cool off if you are making your way through the mountains via the Bell’s Line of Road. Turn off after the Darling Causeway intersection to head into what the rock climbing community calls the “Cosmic County Area” for a secluded watering hole fenced in by sheer 10-metre high cliffs that are made for jumping off into the deep water below. There are plenty of nearby spots for canyoning and rock climbing enthusiasts as well.
Jellybean Pool, Glenbrook
Named after the insightful observation of a little girl, who cried out, “Look Dad, it’s a big jellybean”, the pool is indeed shaped like the sugary treat and the perfect day trip for the family. Located near Glenbrook Creek, bring the kids to play on the sandy embankments while you escape the summer heat in a pool flanked by sandstone cliffs. The pools are 500 metres down a walking track from the Glenbrook Information Centre car park on Bruce Road, and you’ll pass beautiful flora and fauna as you make your way to the idyllic spot.
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