Places To Cool Off // Local Swimming Spots
Cooling off at a local swimming hole is a very Highlands way to spend a hot day.
The whole experience is fun. Finding the spot is usually an adventure in itself, and when you find it… it's hard to top how refreshing it is to swim in natural waters.
Waterfalls, waterholes, rivers…. there are some spectacular well-kept secret locations here in The Highlands (and a little further afield), and then there are the not-so-secret locations that The Fold knows and loves.
The Fold LOVES - Budderoo National Park
A little Highlands treasure, if you will.
Stunning waterfalls, lookouts and walks. This particular area of the National Park is known for Carrington Falls, where sadly the main lookout carpark and walk is currently closed due to fire damage, and will likely be for a while longer. But, the swimming options are all still open and are awesome.
The easiest way to get there is to head through Robertson (from Moss Vale) on the Illawarra Highway and turn right onto Jamberoo Mountain Road once you get to the famous 'Pie Shop'. After about 7km there is a well sign-posted entry point to Carrington Falls (Budderoo National Park), which is a right hand turn.
An important note, puppies need to stay at home for this one, as no dogs are allowed in our National Parks.
It can get really busy on hot days, but don’t let this put you off going, you may just need to park your car a little further away and be prepared for a short walk. People tend not to stay all day, so there's normally lots of movement with cars coming and going freeing up parking spaces.
There are three aaaaahmazing spots in particular we love to cool off at here...
The first is Blue Pool. Not long after you turn right, you’ll see a sign for Carrington Falls Campground and Blue Pool. There's parking at the campsite, which has a picnic area too. From here, it’s a very quick, flat and easy 50m walk to the water hole. Find a big rock to park your bags on and then you’re ready to cool off. Take a lilo and float around, it’s the best!
For the next two spots, keep driving past the sign for Blue Pool. When you approach a fork in the road, follow it right to Nellies Glen Picnic area. Parking can be tricky as the small car park can get full pretty quickly on a hot day, so if it looks busy take the first spot along the side of the road you can get!
This is where you’ll find both Nellies Glen and the top of Carrington Falls; two of our favs and absolutely beautiful spots to swim. There's a picnic table and you’ll also find some toilets as well, so it's well set-up.
For Nellies Glen, go all the way to the carpark and then the water hole is a short, flat, easy walk to the right, so even with small children it only takes a minute or two.
You'll find the Nellies Glen water hole is at the bottom of a waterfall, surrounded by bush. It’s literally as pretty as it sounds. Depending on how much rain we’ve had this spot can be quite dry.
There isn’t a great deal of space to just sit around and hang out all day here; there are a few boulders and dry spots to dump your bags whilst you take a dip, or walk around to sit under the falling water.
Take noodles, lilos and other fun blow up thingies to just float about and relax.
After you’ve cooled off in the water hole, walk over to the other side of the carpark and carry on back towards the toilet block. Walk past the picnic table to your right and you’ll discover our pick - the top of Carrington Falls.
Hours of fun. Again, depending on how much rain we’ve had this spot can get quite dry, but with the recent deluges of rain we've had in The Highlands, it should be pretty good. There’s an area to swim and float around in and then lots of shallow rockpools and tiny waterfalls to explore (warning – these can be slippery in places and there's quite a few small pot holes - so make sure small children take care and hold hands). The scenery is amazing and we bet you’ll pinch yourself on more than one occasion; it’s that pretty!
There’s a bit more space here (i.e. rocks) to just sit around and relax, but be warned on a sunny day it can get hot and harsh as there's limited shade to be found.
Fortunately for us Blue Pool, Nellies Glen and the top of Carrington Falls are only a few on a long list of natural swimming gems in the area. We'll be sure to visit more of these over the coming weeks and share our experiences, but in the meantime here are a few more of the much-loved hot spots for you to get out and discover:
This is a great spot to splash about. Not easy to find, but arguably one of the best access points to the Wingecarribee River is the reserve at Berrima Weir. This is where you'll find families on a sunny day over summer, enjoying the cool water in this picturesque stretch of the river. The water is cool. The scenery is amazing. And it’s dog friendly too!
There have been some worries over water quality and safety, keeping a few locals away. With that said, it doesn’t appear to discourage everyone, so if you still love the idea of splashing around in this scenic river, you won’t be disappointed.
Access is via Oldbury Street, Berrima – just look for the closed gate and the other cars parked on the side of the road.
Forty Foot Falls
Forty Foot Falls is located just outside Mittagong, accessible from Box Vale Road just across the Hume Highway from Welby, where there is a carpark and picnic spot.
The walk to the falls is fairly easy on the way down, with just the final section being steps down (which you have to come back up!). At about 3km’s, it should take less than an hour.
Once at the falls, there are some amazing views and at the bottom a few water holes to cool off in. There are some rock scrambles required and also with the steps, this probably isn’t the ideal option with small children. But it’s certainly an adventure with a well earned swim at the end!
There is a useful map of the Box Vale Walking Track available to download from the Destination Southern Highlands website, click here to access it.
If venturing on a little road trip is your thing, heading down to Kangaroo Valley is the perfect solution on a hot day! Grab an icecream at the lolly shop in town and check out these two spots...
Under the Hampden Bridge
Turn left after the bridge, grab your stuff and head down the winding path to the water. This spot is great for families because there is a big sandy bank to set up camp on. These is a little moving water, and if you head upstream you're rewarded with a large 70m pool! Being nice and close to the village, this is the most central option for swimming in the Valley.
This place is at the end of Upper River Rd, and is a well known spot amongst Valley locals. It can get a little crowded on sunny weekends, but midweek can be a great way to cool off and dodge the crowds. There are natural rock ledges, and a beautiful big swimming hole as large as a 25m pool! This spot is secluded (and out of mobile service range) and is one of the most gorgeous places to swim in the Valley. If you head further upstream there is an addiitonal spot called 'Olympic Pools' which are also breathtaking.
When swimming in natural water it's important to always remember that you are surrounded by bushland and unmaintained swimming conditions; so please be super-careful and aware of your surroundings. Never dive headfirst into the water, and wear shoes (an old pair of sneakers work well) if you're walking upstream.
It's going to be a long, hot summer so why not go and discover one of the local swimming treasures to cool off in. You're going to love it!