Wild swimming is a mix of adventure, fun and cooling off.
To us, wild swimming is a mix of adventure, fun and cooling off. We're not talking patrolled beaches here. Think more soaking under a waterfall or in a tree-lined creek or at a secluded beach rock pool.
With our rivers starting high in Barrington Tops and all leading towards our 190 kilometres of coastline, we have plenty to choose from. Here are our tips for some of the best.
WARNING: Visitors should exercise caution when swimming at the listed locations, never jump in to unfamiliar water and check alerts pages for any National Park closures.
The thing about some wild swimming spots is you have to put in some effort to get them. Gloucester Falls at Gloucester Tops is one of those.
The falls are located about 1km walk from the car park at the picnic area, just over an hour's drive from Gloucester. Stop in along the way to enjoy the beautiful views from Andrew Laurie Lookout. It's a bit of a scramble down to the rocky platform above the falls so watch your footing. From here you can take your choice of a shallow dip in the cascading waters or venture down to the bigger falls where you can bathe under the flowing falls.
Be warned - this water is always cold!
The northern end below Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse is the place to be. At low tide the water recedes exposing just enough beach for you to walk around the rocky outcrop. Here you will find rock pools and caves with little or no incoming swell. Just don't get caught here when the tide rises or you'll be swimming out of there.
Best access is via the stairs down from Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. 4WD's are also allowed on the beach with a NSW National Parks Permit.
Located deep in Tapin Tops National Park you will find the beautiful Potoroo Falls. The huge pool that the waterfall feeds is a perfect place to cool off on a hot summers day. The towering forest around you makes you feel like it's your own private oasis in the middle of nowhere.
To access the falls, park your car in the picnic area and follow the creek's edge about 500m. You'll begin to hear the falls before you see them. Trust us that when you do finally see them, you'll be impressed.
Fairy Pool, Forster
For those looking to be rewarded for some effort, this pool is the one. Located a short bush walk at the base of the rock walls between Burgess and McBrides Beach lays a stunning single, sandy bottom pool of crystal-clear water.
The walk to get this pool is the trickiest bit. Follow the track at the end of Burgess Road down to the waters edge before a climb back up through the scrub. Once at the top you can view the pool below you at an opening in the vegetation. Continue along through the bush, before descending to the rocky beach below. Double back along the rockface to the pool. Now you’re ready to enjoy this private oasis.
Saltwater National Park
Saltwater National Park and Khappinghat Creek has special significance for the local Biripi community with sites relating to Dreamtime beliefs and a section of the park a declared Aboroginal Place.
Take your choice of places for a swim here with swimming and surfing at the ocean beach or cool off in the tranquil waters o the creek.
Rocky Crossing, Williams River
Rocky Crossing, a subtropical delight of the southern precinct of Barrington Tops. The clarity of the water is some of the clearest in the park. Depending on how much time you have, there are several walking options. You can either hike directly to the waterfall via Lagoon Pinch carpark. Or you can park at Williams River carpark and enjoy the entire Rocky Crossing Walking Trail. If you have the spare the time, make a day of it and enjoy the cascading waterways of the adjoining Blue Gum River Walk too.
Bretti Nature Reserve
Nestled between four national parks, Bretti Nature Reserve and campground offers 10 hectares of natural beauty on the beautiful Barnard River near its junction with the Manning River.
The river snakes through the reserve with several deep swimming holes to splash around in or jump on the lie-low and float down stream.
There is free camping at this site plus it is dog friendly. Access is via the gravel road off Thunderbolts Way at Bretti that descends to the river flats below.
Tucked away in Comboyne State Forest near Coorabakh National Park, Waitui Falls is a delightful place for a swim and picnic. It’s not a huge waterfall but the rock pool below provides a big watering hole for a soak. A pebbly shoreline makes for easy access and the rocky walls that surround are a nice place to sit down and take it all in.
The pathway to the falls is short but it is easy to miss the roadside marker of where to park. It makes this waterfall seem even more elusive.