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By Jasmine Crittenden
March 17, 2014

Five Waterfalls Near Sydney You Can Swim Under

Don't stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.

By Jasmine Crittenden
March 17, 2014

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.

Image credit: Sydney for Everyone


Wattamolla, Royal National Park

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.

Image credit: diah123


Winifred Falls, 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.

Image credit: Bushwalk Australia


Nellies Glen, Budderoo National Park

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.

Image credit: NSW National Parks and Wildlife


Minnehaha Falls, Blue Mountains

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.

Image credit: David Noble


Top image credit: zolakoma.

Published on March 17, 2014 by Jasmine Crittenden

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  • Reader comments...

    Vanessa Hayes - April 2, 2016

    What this site fails to mention regarding Winifred Falls in Royal National Park is that most of the time there is very little water running into the 'deep forest green pool'. Most of the falls in the Royal National Park are dependent on regular rain otherwise the pool does not flush through and becomes stagnant. There are no facilities at this location ie toilets etc so is not suited to lengthy visits. - December 26, 2015

    As an ex mountain resident of nearly 35 years who happens to have a degree in Environmental Management, believe me, you do not want to swim at Minnehaha Falls at Katoomba. The water could make you sick if you do try to swim under the falls ie, submerge your face. The water quality is only rated for wading, boating and fishing.

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