Take the Plunge

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Who needs a beach when some of the most enticing wild swimming holes are right on our doorstep?

By Julie Miller

Things are heating up in the Blue Mountains – but while we may lack sea breezes and proximity to pounding oceans, what we do have in our World Heritage-listed backyard is rivers and creeks by the dozens, fed by plummeting waterfalls that tumble over the sandstone escarpment.

That means there are plenty of places to cool off when the temperature starts to rise – and although you may have to make an effort to get there, the reward is cool, crystal-clear pools of joy, without the crowds of city beaches.

Here are some of our favourite places to dip your toes into:

Blue Pool, Blue Mountains National Park, Glenbrook

Nearby the popular but often-overcrowded Jellybean Pool is the idyllic Blue Pool, accessed by a short yet challenging track with quite a few stairs. This beautiful, fern-fringed naturally-blue swimming hole is flanked by a white sand beach, so there’s no need to negotiate any boulders to get to the cool, deep water.

Minnehaha Falls, Katoomba

One of the prettiest waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, Minnehaha Falls is also blessed with a deep swimming hole at its base, making it the perfect spot to cool off. The walk to the walls is reasonably short – 2.5 km return – but is steep in parts, with stairs and ladders to contend with, which can be challenging for small children. The pool is quite small and can get crowded on the weekend, but midweek you may have this blissful place all to yourself.

Pool of Siloam, Leura

More of a plunge pool than a swimming hole, this picture-perfect shallow pond at the base of a tumbling cascade has a sandy bottom, so is ideal for kids to splash around in. Surrounded by shady forest, it’s just a short half-kilometre hike from the carpark at Gordon’s Falls.

Victoria Falls, Mount Victoria

Effort is required to get to this base of Victoria Falls, but the experience is definitely worth it. A steep 5.2 kilometre return down many stairs to the floor of the Grose Valley (via the equally pretty Victoria Creek Cascades), the climb is rewarded by a serene, wild paradise – sitting in the cool pool gazing up at the towering escarpment above, with the spray of the plummeting waterfall showering down, is truly a special moment. Now you just have to make the climb back to the top…

Glenbrook Gorge, Glenbrook

Rock-hop along beautiful Glenbrook Gorge to find your own patch of riverside beach and isolated swimming hole. The 1.5 km track to the Gorge is quite steep and challenging, and the going gets even harder once you hit the creek with boulders and obstacles to contend with – but if you push on, it’s a wonderful, wild location surrounded by soaring cliffs, which you’re likely to have all to yourself. Be mindful of strong currents, avoid rapids and take care after periods of rain – check with rangers at the Visitor Centre before heading in.

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