There’s no shortage of wild swimming paradises just a short drive (or train ride) from Sydney. Even better, some of these spots will let you pitch a tent too, so you can greet the day with a sunrise dip. These are our favourite unspoilt wild swimming paradises: there’s no need to queue up for a selfie at these hidden gems.
Erskine Creek, Blue Mountains National Park
At a glance: 1.5hrs from Sydney, 2.6km walk.
Erskine Creek is part of the Blue Mountains’ ‘Blue Labyrinth’ – an epic maze of gorges and creeks that’s like a real-world version of Labyrinth, minus David Bowie the Goblin King. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might spot a platypus!
- 1.5hr drive; park at Nepean Lookout Car Park.
- No public transport access.
- 2.6kms on Jack Evans track to Erskine Creek.
Glenbrook Gorge, Blue Mountains National Park
At a glance: 1hr from Sydney, 3km trail.
You’ll feel a million miles from home swimming in Glenbrook Creek, surrounded on all sides by the huge red cliffs of Glenbrook Gorge. If you have kids, they’ll love the smaller Jellybean Pool, only fifteen minutes walk from the car park with a sandy beach just made for sand castles.
- 1hr drive; park at Glenbrook Gorge car park at the National Parks Tourist Centre on Bruce Road.
- 1hr by train from Central to Glenbrook Station. Walk 15 mins to the car park at the entrance to Glenbrook Gorge.
- Follow Glenbrook Gorge track for 45 mins to the creek.
Resolute Beach, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
At a glance: 1hr drive from Sydney, 3km loop trail.
Hidden in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, this stunning beach backs onto the Pittwater basin. The Resolute Loop Trail will take you to the beach and even more secluded coves nearby, ending up at West Head Lookout with panoramic views over the Hawkesbury River, Central Coast and Pittwater Basin. Be sure to take the short detour to the Red Hands Cave, where you can catch some of the park’s best Aboriginal rock art and engravings.
Lake Eckersley, Heathcote National Park
At a glance: 50 mins from Sydney, 3hr return walk.
Heathcote National Park is like the quiet cousin to its popular neighbour, the Royal National Park. Technically this is not a lake but a bend in the Woronora River, but whatever it is – it’s remarkably beautiful. For the perfect weekend escape, book into the cosy river-side campsite. After all, more time at the lake means you’re more likely to spot one of the shy koalas that live here!
- 50 mins drive; park at the end of Oliver Street.
- 1hr by train from Central to Heathcote station. Walk 15 mins to end of Oliver Street.
- Follow Goburra Track until it meets the Pipeline fire trail.
- 1.5hrs on the Pipeline fire trail to Lake Eckersley.
Kingfisher Pool, Heathcote National Park
At a glance: 1hr from Sydney, 3km return walk.
A waterfall and waterhole all in one, Kingfisher Pool has your wild-swimming dreams covered. Although it’s moderately difficult, it’s only a forty minute walk in, leaving plenty of time to lounge under the pretty cascade or enjoy a post-swim feast at the picnic tables. For an ideal getaway, reserve a spot at the Kingfisher Pool campground.
- 1hr by car; park at the end of Warabin Street.
- 1hr by train from Central to Waterfall station. Walk 15 mins to end of Warabin Street.
- Walk 1.5km to waterhole via Bullawarring walking track.
Jingga Pool, Dharawal National Park
At a glance: 1hr from Sydney, 2.4km return walk.
Jingga pool is an epic natural swimming pool near Campbelltown in the recently formed Dharawal National Park. You might want to find some binoculars for this trip, because the area is home to a rare marsupial called the potoroo, which looks kind of like a kangaroo, if a kangaroo was the size of a rabbit. Don’t believe me? The potoroo was one of the first marsupials described by European settlers. Google it.
- 1.45hrs by car; park in car park at end of Victoria Rd, Wedderburn.
- No public transport access.
- Walk 30 mins to pool via Jingga walking track.
Finally, a few tips for before you leave. Check for alerts on our website before setting off – you don’t want to head out only to find access is closed. Take extra care when swimming after rain, and always check for water depth and hidden objects before jumping in. Bring at least two litres of water per person, a hat and sunscreen, and avoid walking in the hottest part of the day. And last but not least, leave the place as you found it (or better) in good #leavenotrace style.