December 20, 2016

If you love swimming in the Hawkesbury river right on our doorstep, try these secluded swimming spots, perfect for a day trip from Vermont…

Discovery, adventure and getting out in nature – there’s nothing like diving into a natural, secluded swimming hole, say Rachel and Andy Lewis, who have a passion for pools and run the website Wild Swimming Australia.

Hiking into the bush and discovering a beautiful pristine waterfall with no-one around for miles is thrilling,” says Andy.

“And literally immersing yourself completely in nature can be transformational,” Rachel adds.

“There’s nothing like plunging into freezing cold water to bring you into the present moment.”

Andy, a food and lifestyle photographer, and surf coach Rachel grew up in South Devon, UK where they say swimming in rivers on Dartmoor was an integral part of summertime.

“I was particularly lucky to have the beautiful River Erme on my front doorstep and I continued to swim and take pictures of the landscape as I grew up,” says Andy.

Rachel says she re-discovered wild swimming as a grown-up because of a friend’s mum, who is part of a group of older women who swim in a river in England every week, year round!

They are all so healthy and looked so alive and happy after swimming that I had to try it,” she says.

Andy and Rachel connected because of a love of exploring wild places and, in particular, swimming, snorkelling and surfing, and they say it’s been a huge part of their relationship and something they love to do together and with their daughter Milly.

We are outdoors people and love the wilds and peace of the countryside, but Andy’s photography career necessitates being in a city, and what city combines the outdoor lifestyle with the benefits of an urban setting better than Sydney?” says Rachel.

The couple say that although wild swimming has become a passion, they also love the beach.

“The ocean is our first love, but lots of the beaches are very crowded here in Sydney,” says Rachel.

There’s nothing better than a wild swim at a secluded, unspoilt beach, of which Australia has so many amazing examples, and we also document these in our online guide.

“The bush swimming holes are incredible. It’s a totally different feeling at each spot; the landscape, the wildlife, we love it all.”

Rachel and Andy say they started their website, which features natural swimming spots all over Australia, about two years ago to make it easy for people to find places to swim in the outdoors.

‘We want to give people more opportunities to fall in love with nature,” says Rachel.

For more detailed information on how to get to each swimming hole, or to buy prints of the spots featured, visit


Here are Rachel and Andy’s recommendations for six wild swimming holes that are perfect for a day trip from Vermont!

  1. The Duck Holes
    McCarrs Creek, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
    The Duck Holes are a series of child-friendly swimming holes located near a road but surrounded by bush, so there is a taste of nature as well as being easily accessible. One of the pools is deeper, has a couple of rope swings and is surrounded by sandy beaches. The others are shallower and good for younger children. There are even some very small ones which would be perfect for giving babies their first taste of wild swimming!
  1. Kariong Brook Falls
    Brisbane Water National Park, Kariong
    This small romantic waterhole beneath Kariong Brook waterfall has surrounding rock ledges which make great picnic spots. The swimming hole is nestled in a lush rainforest environment. As part of the Great North Walk, this is a well-marked area. Enclosed by the waterfall’s cliff face and rainforest, temperatures remain cool year round – unbelievably refreshing!
  1. Emerald Pool
    Popran National Park, near Gosford, Central Coast
    The water of this pool is often a stunning crystal clear green colour, as the name suggests. The smallish pool is lined with ferns and partially shaded by eucalypts, so it’s the ideal place for a casual swim and a picnic on the flat rocks downstream. It’s a bit of a walk in so this is a peaceful, often empty spot.
  1. Upper Colo Reserve
    Hulbert Road, Upper Colo
    Upper Colo Reserve is home to an awesome, child-friendly stretch of river alongside a beach made of coarse-grained sand. The sand shelves off gently so it is very safe for kids but the river is deep enough for swimming for a long stretch, making this a great all-round swimming hole.
  1. Lake Parramatta
    Lake Parramatta Reserve, North Parramatta
    Lake Parramatta is a super-safe and easy swimming hole for those with small children. There is a lifeguard-patrolled area and the setting is very natural, especially considering the easy access within a built-up area. The water is generally still and peaceful. It’s possible to swim around the bend in the lake for a longer, quieter swim.
  1. Karloo Pools
    Royal National Park, near Heathcote, Sydney
    Karloo Pools are a pristine surprise on the edge of Sydney in the Royal National Park. The clarity of the water, the uniform, swimmable depth, and the gentle sound of the tiny stream which spreads out over smooth rocks before emptying into the pool make this a charming spot. Karloo Pools are part way along the Karloo Track, a popular hiking route, so there may be passing foot traffic.


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