Last updated: September 24, 2022
Mermaid Pools is a beautiful natural water hole on the Bargo River at the start of Tahmoor Gorge, only 75 minutes southwest of Sydney.
You may have already read a few stories about Mermaid Pools and how beautiful it is, but there is so much more to this part of the world than just that water hole.
While most people go there only to visit Mermaid Pools, it’s recommended to venture out a bit further and discover how uniquely beautiful Tahmoor Gorge on the Bargo River is.
Do not jump into the water hole. If you’re planning to swim in Mermaid Pools, please note that the only way in is by jumping off a cliff (around 15m high), and the only way out is via a make-shift rope next to the waterfall.
Swimming in this hole is therefore considered dangerous and there have been injuries and even fatalities in the past. Do a quick Google search, and you will find several serious incidents.
Jumping into the pool is NOT recommended and is entirely at your own risk. Also note that there is no phone reception in the area. There are other, smaller water holes along the track where you can safely go for a swim.
Furthermore, Mermaid Pools is considered a sacred site for traditional land owners, in particular for Indigenous women, and needs to be respected.
How to Get There
Getting to the start of the walking track that leads to Mermaid Pools can be a bit confusing.
Parking is available right next to the Rockford Road Bridge (see image below).
If you’re driving in via the Old Hume Highway, turn into Rockford Road, and turn right into Charlies Point Road just after crossing the bridge. Turn right again into a dirt road that takes you to the bridge.
If you’re coming in via the Hume Motorway, take the Avon Dam Road exit, then turn into Anna Road, and stay on that road until you can turn left into Charlies Point Road.
Click on this link to find that exact parking spot and the surrounding area on Google Maps.
Once you’ve parked your car, walk under the bridge and follow the track on the eastern side of the Bargo River.
There is a sign at the bridge that indicates the start of the track.
Two Walking Tracks
Starting from the bridge, there are two options:
- Bridge to Mermaid Pools (easy to moderate)
- Mermaids Pool to Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Track (very hard)
You can just do the short hike to Mermaid Pools, hang out there, and return to your car. Or you can extend your walk by including a loop trail around Tahmoor Gorge.
The first option takes around two hours return and is a relatively easy walk. The second option can take up to six hours and is a hard walk. It’s for experienced bushwalkers only.
We recommend that you only do the second part of the hike if you’re fit and have brought enough water with you. A set of good hiking poles would also be useful for this tough track.
The map at the bottom of the page is a rough sketch of the walking track to Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge.
Signage Along the Way
The interesting thing about this hike is that it’s not officially documented on any council or state government websites. There is also no official signage, and the track, at times, is very hard to follow.
Other bushwalkers have left their own markers along the way, which is very helpful otherwise there’s a big chance you’d get lost. Look for arrows and other brightly-coloured signals as you hike through the gorge. There are even maps pinned on trees here and there.
If you do feel that you’re lost, go back to the last marker you saw and try and find the next one.
At times you may think you’re a bit lost, but then another marker pops up, and you’re good to continue.
There is some confusion around the actual name of this natural water hole. Some call it Mermaids Pool, others like to call it Mermaid Pool, and then there’s websites that refer to it as Mermaid Pools. Google Maps names it “Mermaids Pool”, but the sign at the bridge at the start of the track says “Mermaid Pools”.
1. Bridge to Mermaid Pools
|Time:||2 hours (return)|
The hike from the bridge to Mermaid Pool is relatively easy and should take approximately one hour (one way).
Not too long after the start of the track, you can choose between the upper path and the lower path along the river.
The upper path follows a ridge and is the easier of the two. The lower path stays right at the river and is more fun, with some rocks and boulders to climb over.
The two paths join again and become the Matilda Track, which will eventually take you to Mermaid Pools.
See Through Pools
Before ending up at Mermaid Pools, it’s worth doing a little side-trip down to the water to have a closer look at the See Through Pools.
It’s a magical place with small waterfalls, water cascades and swirl holes. This is a great spot to go for a quick swim on a warm day.
The water can be quite deep in some places, but please be careful when swimming as there are lots of hidden rock formations underwater that you can’t always see.
Please note, as one reader has pointed out, the water in the Bargo River may be polluted due to nearby underground coal mining. Therefore, swimming in the river is at your own risk.
Mermaid Pools is a deep water hole surrounded by cliff walls and beautiful bushland.
As mentioned above, the only way into the pool is by jumping off a 15m high cliff. There’s also a 25m high platform, but that’s only for the true daredevils.
A big yellow sign is painted on top of the lower cliff, saying it’s an unsafe spot to jump into the pool. The irony is that this sign feels more like an invitation to jump than it is to discourage people.
As mentioned, jumping is entirely at your own risk. We strongly advise against it because it’s unsafe and because it’s considered a sacred site.
And if jumping isn’t risky enough, then climbing back out of the pool via a makeshift rope right next to the slippery waterfall certainly is. Many accidents have happened in the past.
The rock platforms above the pool are perfect for just sitting there for a bit, having a picnic, and enjoying the serenity of the environment.
2. Mermaids Pool to Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Track
|Time:||4-6 hours (return)|
|Grade:||Hard (experienced bushwalkers only)|
If you’re feeling energetic, are an experienced bushwalker, and have enough water, it’s recommended to venture out further and see more of the Tahmoor Gorge/Canyon along the Bargo River.
Not too far from Mermaid Pools, the walking track splits in two and essentially forms a loop.
It’s best to do the lower track along the creek first, as this is the most challenging section and involves a lot of climbing and crossing rivers.
The upper track is reasonably flat and will eventually bring you back to Mermaid Pools.
The path follows the Bargo River, which you will need to cross several times. The scenery here is fantastic and makes you feel like you’re far away from civilisation.
The path along the creek is hard to follow, making you even more grateful for the makeshift markers.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to swim, there are quite a few nice spots where you can dip your toes and feel one with nature.
After a couple of hours, the lower track transitions into the upper track. This is perhaps the most challenging part, where you have to climb up the canyon with some very steep rock steps.
Once you’ve made your way up, the track takes you back via the Sugar Loaf Pass on top of the Tahmoor Gorge.
There are a few scenic lookout points where you can rest up and take in the impressive views of the area.
At some point, the path does a sharp turn to the left, which kind of makes you feel like you’re going the wrong way.
But not to worry, from this point onward, the track is an easy forest path that takes you back to Mermaid Pools.
Map of Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge
This handy map (courtesy of the Wollondilly Shire Council) is a hand-drawing of the walking trails and points of interest along the way, including The Potholes, See Through Pool, Mermaids Pool and Tahmoor Gorge.
Even though this map by itself is not enough to guide you through the area, it’s certainly a good source of reference. So by all means, print it out and bring it along with you. Please note though that the map was drawn upside down.
Sydney Uncovered needs to seriously consider removing Mermaid Pools from this site.
Its an extremely dangerous water hole to access and the number of accidents that have occurred this summer is proof that people should not use it.
Again today another person was air lifted from the watering hole with a broken leg, others have not been so fortunate.
Hi Brad, we are actually one of the very few websites that strongly advise AGAINST jumping into the pool. Taking this article offline won’t change anything because people will simply find their info elsewhere.
Our article is about visiting this beautiful place on earth and exploring Tahmoor Gorge, it’s certainly not about jumping into the pool.
You need to understand this is a sacred Traditional Owners site that must NOT be visited. It is dangerous and disrespectful to be in this area. I advise you to check with all Local Aboriginal Land Councils before entering any Traditional sites.
Me and my cousin where at this place last week. I do not recommend it. The bush is full of brown snakes so your kids must be careful. And also my cousin jumped in the water and landed on a rock that sits 1m below the surface, there is no signage about this rock and now his elbow is broken in 3 places. Stay away people.
The bush is full of snakes because it’s the Australian bush! Your cousin jumped into the water at his own risk and injured himself, end of story.
Exactly! Australia is turning into “The Nanna Country” trying to wrap everyone in cotton wool with big government top down control. People need freedom and responsibilities to take things at their own risk. Next I’ll be hearing that we closed the beaches forever because someone got taken by a shark.
The bush walk is definitely one to enjoy, as with any bush walking, you should always be on the look out for dangerous, such as snakes, shallow waters, slopes or anything like that. I personally did not see any snakes or spiders, only a few lizards here and there.
The primary danger that appears is when the bush walkers take their own risks, such as jumping into unknown waters from a height and getting hurt – this is not a local swimming pool with safety regulations, so a little bit of common sense will go a long way.
There are a lot of popular swimming spots along this walk to enjoy the water, so enjoy.
Common sense goes a long way. It is more dangerous to watch a mobile phone whilst walking in the city. So be prepped for bushwalking, wear long jeans, a hat and boots and carry water.
It’s actually only meant for Aboriginal women’s business and is sacred to Aboriginal people. Aboriginal men do not visit this sight out of respect and laws.
Please read history and do better research.
This comment is 2 years old and your article has not been updated. Why not?
Hi Tom, because Rach obviously knows much more about this than we do, which is why we’re more than happy to approve such comments. We are also more than happy to update the article if more information is handed to us, so by all means, Tom or anyone else, if you have more details and would like us to update the article, please get in touch. This can all be done in a friendly and cooperative manner. We’re here to help.
Love all the information you shared! I am really impressed and appreciate the details! Don’t worry about all the nonsense comments. ????
Thanks Shena, very kind of you!
I’d recommend doing a google search on pollution levels in the Bargo river before swimming. Tahmoor colliery discharges waste water into the river not too far upstream from the places you recommend swimming in.
Thanks for the feedback Rob, that’s very interesting. We’ll add a note in the article.
Thanks for sharing this article. Just wondering if going the upper track, can the see through pools be viewed from the top at all?
Hi Sharon, I believe so but can’t remember exactly. But if you’re visiting Mermaid Pools, maybe do the upper track on the way there and the lower track on the return, or vice versa. That way you get to see everything.
We did this walk and didn’t spot a single snake as some comments suggest. Anyway, this is Australia and keep in mind that it’s normal to see snakes when bushwalking. Nice walk, the Mermaid Pools was crowded on the long weekend, but the Tahmoor Gorges track was pretty empty and quiet, which was great.
Thanks Max, glad to hear you enjoyed the track. It’s a challenging one but the scenery is awesome.
Yes this place is a sacred site (women’s birthing place) and needs to be respected. And check the condition of the water as it has toxins in it from the waste being put in there.
Very enjoyable hike, and impressive views.
The lack of a proper trail made it a lot more exciting for us, just exercise caution when approaching the rocky parts near the river and you should be perfectly fine.
Also, on returning to the parking area before the bridge, make sure to stick close to the riverside to find your way back, as veering too far left can cause you to lose your way slightly.
Thanks for the tips, Mo, and glad to hear you enjoyed the walk!
Soon after you see the split path, DO NOT choose the upper path as this will bring you to the Mermaids Pool to Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Track (very hard).
Your article is wrong. It mislead us. We were not well prepared to go on a hard track. We nearly have to call the police to save our life.
So please change the information.
Hello Yee, sorry you had a bad experience.
Are you able to be more specific about which junction you’re referring to? Do you mean at the start? If so, that track does go to Mermaid Pools, but it’s easy enough to miss the junction that goes down to the pool and instead ending up on that hard track that continues to the gorge.
In any case, whenever you go hiking in remote bushland, it’s important to prepare yourself well, which means trying to get a good understanding of the trail beforehand (if you look at the map, you will see various intersections) and always bring plenty of water.
Hi, how’s the condition of the track after all the rain we’re experiencing in NSW? Planning on doing this in a couple of weeks (June 2022).
Hi Isabela, honestly, not sure about the condition of the track, but I’d be hesitant to go there after all that rain. Hopefully someone else who’s been there recently can chime in.
It saddens me to see that the comments about it being sacred traditional land appear to be ignored. Sydney Uncovered, you make comments on every other post, bar the three mentioning that it’s a sacred site. To me, that is completely disrespectful to the local indigenous women, you do not promote it’s a sacred site for Indigenous Women and to seek permission from the local Elders. Why can’t people go for a bush walk elsewhere and respect the traditional land owners. There is not a good enough reason in my opinion why you should continue to disrespect the custodians traditions. Only with the permission from the local Elders and in the case of a life and death situation should you step foot on their land. This is how to show respect and exhibit appropriate culturally sensitive behaviour. You don’t take bus loads of tourists through the maternity wards in our hospitals, out of respect for Anglo Saxon customs and traditions, why should our indigenous mobs not have that same respect. Follow the law of the land on which you’re standing.
Hi Melissa, thanks for commenting.
1. We are not ignoring comments like yours. We approve comments like yours; we’re not hiding or moderating them. In fact, we appreciate comments like yours, as long as they’re respectful and offer insights. And by approving comments like yours, others can read and learn from them. We may not always respond, but we do approve so others can read them.
2. Our honest understanding is that it is okay to visit Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge, but swimming in the pool is not okay. This has actually been confirmed by several members of the Aboriginal community who have reached out to us in the past. Our article strongly advocates against jumping into the pool, unlike other sources you find online.
3. We are not promoting this article anywhere, not on social media, and not in newsletters. The reason we are not promoting this article anywhere is that we don’t want those busloads of tourists going there. We have published this article to provide honest and helpful information to people who intend to visit this place so that they know they should not jump into the pool and that hiking beyond Mermaid Pools is challenging and even dangerous. Other sources online are far less strict about that.
4. We aim to always respect the traditional land owners. We also encourage members of the Aboriginal community to reach out to us if they feel that we have written something that is incorrect, incomplete, or disrespectful. We have, in fact, made several amendments to our content over the years as a result of people reaching out to us, which is very positive. And as a result of your comment, we have now noted in this article that Mermaid Pools is a sacred site.