Just a stone's throw from the hustle & bustle of Sydney's CBD, along the Princes Highway heading south - the sheer, raw natural Australian beauty of the Royal National Park & it's closeness to the concrete city is unfathomable, but very much a welcome change of scenery. I will share with you three spectacular swimming spots you don't want to miss!
Your first stop should definitely be Wattamolla. A popular destination for snap-happy tourists, picnicking families & thrill seekers alike, head into the Royal National Park & through the park gates, drive a good twenty minutes until you reach Wattamolla Road on the left, then drive another 5 minutes before reaching the car park. From here you have two choices - follow the path down towards the ocean & lagoon, or simply climb a small fence & set your towel down on the large, flat rock surface, right on top of the falls! The only way down to the water from here is to jump - I find the key is to not look down first or spend time thinking about it - just leap!!! The lagoon itself is incredibly deep, & you don’t have to worry about the raging waves & the threat of rips like you would at the neighbouring beach.
South West Arm Pool
Once you tire of repeatedly jumping off the falls, head back up Wattamolla Road, turn right back the way you came, then drive about 12 minutes until you reach Warumbul Road on your right. Take this right, then park up when you come across the Winifred Fire Trail. Take this trail by foot for about half an hour downhill until you reach the Winifred falls. A pretty little waterfall with a shallow pool to splash in - however, this is not why you’re here. From here your path gets a little tricky, walk toward the left, past the viewpoint of the falls, scale down a path, & walk alongside the river. There’s no beaten track, but trust your instincts whilst walking over uneven rocks, & dodging trees. Your patience will be rewarded when you reach a clearing & here you will grab your first glimpse of the South West Arm Pool. A giant bottle green lagoon with high cliffs (which means great places to jump off!) on both sides, the pool is connected to the ocean, so the water is slightly salty.
Your quest for the perfect swimming spot may be coming to a close, but it should not be without our last stop - the mystical Karloo pools. Head back towards Princes Highway & drive ten minutes until you reach Heathcote. Park in the Heathcote station carpark, or along Princes Highway opposite (where parking is ample,) then cross over the railway lines & turn right onto McKell Avenue & here your walk begins. You will follow the Karloo pools track for a good 45 mins over sun soaked, lizard friendly rock faces above the native trees, before stumbling upon one of the most glorious swimming holes in the Sydney area.
The crystal clear, wonderfully deep green water hole just screams 'jump on in,' & after working up a sweat from the hike, you'd be silly if you didn't! The water is initially shockingly cold & will definitely take your breath away, but give it a minute & you'll soon warm up. Take a dive down below or float leisurely on the surface, before eating lunch on the water's edge (pack a picnic or even treat yourself to a delicious feed of fish & chips from the takeaways across the road from Heathcote station!)