Don't let summer disappear without initiating your own personal Brooke Shields-Christopher Atkins moment. Even though Sydney is well-known for its sand and surf — from beachy, bleachy Bondi to the Harbour's numerous secret, secluded coves — its waterfalls don't often receive the same attention. Here are five Blue Lagoon-esque locations that you really should get to before winter sets in.
Collins Beach Waterfall
If it weren't for the occasional passing ferry, swimmers at Collins Beach could easily be fooled into thinking they were in the middle of nowhere. Nestled into Spring Cove, near North Head, it's one of Sydney's least-visited beaches, despite being just 1.3km from the Manly Wharf. The trick is it's only accessible on foot — or by boat. You can't exactly swim under the waterfall, but you can partake in the slightly surreal experience of standing in it — or behind it — while looking out at Sydney Harbour. As far as a post-swim shower goes, it's tough to beat. Plus there are fairy penguins. Best to visit shortly after rainfall.
As far as watery outdoor day trips go, Wattamolla has everything — not only a waterfall but a lagoon and a beach to boot. Reaching the 7m high waterfall requires a 50m swim from the lagoon's edge. Some people attempt a shortcut by jumping straight in, but that's actually against National Parks and Wildlife regulations. After a swim, relax in the shade of cabbage tree palms, take a bush walk or spend the rest of the day looking out for sea eagles and oystercatchers. Wattamolla is a 50-minute drive from the Sydney CBD, in the eastern section of the Royal National Park.
To reach Winifred Falls, you'll need to take a 4km, occasionally steep walk from Audley. Sure, that might sound like a bit of an effort, but it's worth it. If you travel during the week, there's every chance you'll have the spot all to yourself. Seven metres in height, the falls tumble down a series of steps before hitting a deep, forest-green pool.
You'll find this misty, magical swimming hole in the Budderoo National Park, near Robertson in the Southern Highlands. (That's a 90-minute drive from Sydney). Home to lush, ferny vegetation, brightly coloured orchids and satin bower birds, it's like a scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, a 2-hour hike (actually, 'hike' is a too civilised a word; it's more part bush bash, part rock scramble) will take you to the base of the spectacular 50m high Carrington Falls. Note that this trail is unmarked and therefore unsuitable for inexperienced walkers. Another option is driving to Carrington Falls Picnic Area.
Getting to Minnehaha Falls involves a 1km walk of medium difficulty. The tracks starts just off Minni Ha Ha Road, slightly north of Katoomba. Along the way, you'll access stunning views of nearby ravines, brilliant red Mountain Devils in flower and biodiverse hanging swamps.