Discover Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge

Last updated: September 17, 2021

Mermaid Pools is a beautiful natural water hole on the Bargo River at the start of Tahmoor Gorge, only 75 minutes south-west of Sydney.

If you love bushwalking, getting back to nature, swimming in rivers and chasing waterfalls, then this hiking adventure is for you.

You may have already read a few stories about Mermaid Pools and how awesome 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 highly recommended to venture out a bit further and discover how beautiful Tahmoor Gorge on the Bargo River really is.

Warning about Mermaid Pools:
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.

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).

Parking map for Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge

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.

Bridge where the Mermaid Pools walking track starts
Bridge where the Mermaid Pools walking track starts

Once you’ve parked your car, walk under the bridge and follow the track on the eastern side of 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:

  1. Bridge to Mermaid Pools (easy to moderate)
  2. 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 would recommend that you only do the second part of the hike if you’re feeling fit and you 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 extremely useful otherwise there’s a big chance you’d get lost. Look out for arrows and other brightly-coloured signals as you hike through the gorge. There are even maps pinned on trees here and there.

A big thank you to those that have helped marking this challenging walking track!

Mermaid Pools walking track markers
Lots of helpful track markers along the way

If you do feel that you’re lost, just 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.

What’s in a name?
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

Distance: Approx. 2km
Time: 2 hours (return)
Grade: Medium

The hike from the bridge to Mermaid Pool is relatively easy and should take you around 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.

Cliff walls of Tahmoor Gorge

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 a lot of rocks 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.

See Through Pools on the Bargo River
See Through Pools

The water can be quite deep in some places, but please be careful when swimming as there are lots of hidden rock formations under water 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

Mermaid Pools literally is a deep water hole, surrounded by the sheer cliff walls of the Tahmoor Canyon.

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 who have no fear in life.

Mermaid Pools
Mermaid Pools

A big yellow sign is painted on top of the lower cliff saying that it’s an unsafe spot to jump into the pool.

The irony is though that this sign feels more like an invitation to jump than it is to scare people away. Jumping is entirely at your own risk.

And if the jumping bit isn’t risky enough, then climbing back out of the pool via a make-shift rope right next to the slippery waterfall certainly is. Accidents have happened in the past, so please be careful.

Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge

The rock platforms above the pool are perfect to just sit there for a bit, have a picnic, and enjoy the serenity of the environment.

Enjoy a good bushwalk as much as we do? Check out our list of the best bushwalks in and around Sydney for some great ideas.

2. Mermaids Pool to Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Track

Distance: Approx. 8km
Time: 4-6 hours (return)
Grade: Hard (experienced bushwalkers only)

If you’re feeling energetic and you have enough water, it’s a great idea to venture out further and see more of the Tahmoor Gorge/Canyon along the Bargo River.

Not too far away from Mermaid Pools, the walking track splits in two and essentially forms a loop.

Bargo River running through Tahmoor Gorge
Bargo River running through Tahmoor Gorge

It’s strongly recommended to do the lower track along the creek first, as this is by far the hardest section and involves a lot of climbing and crossing rivers.

The upper track is reasonably flat and will take you back to Mermaid Pools.

Lower Track

The path follows the Bargo River that you will need to cross a couple of times. The scenery here is absolutely amazing, and makes you feel like you’re going back in time as there are hardly any signs of civilisation.

The path along the creek is quite hard to follow, which makes you feel even more grateful for the makeshift markers.

Tahmoor Gorge and Bargo River
Tahmoor Gorge

If you haven’t had a chance yet to swim, there are quite a few nice spots here 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 hardest part where you need to climb up the canyon with some very steep rock steps.

Upper Track

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 some pretty amazing lookout points where you can rest up and take in the impressive views of the area.

Old engine at Mermaid Pools
Random old engine

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.

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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 definitely a great 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.

Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge map


Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

      • 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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