Mermaids Pool and Tahmoor Gorge Track Along the Bargo River

Last updated: May 3, 2024

Mermaids Pool is a beautiful natural water hole on the Bargo River at the start of Tahmoor Gorge, only 75 minutes southwest of Sydney.

This article explores two walking tracks: one trail to Mermaids Pool and a second trail exploring Tahmoor Gorge. We have also included maps to help you with navigating those two walks.

The first walk is a relatively easy 4 km return walk, but the second walk is much more challenging, with very little signage and rough terrain. That walking track is only recommended for experienced bushwalkers.

Warning about Mermaids Pool:
Do not jump into the water hole. If you’re planning to swim in Mermaids Pool, please note that the only way in is by jumping off a cliff (around 15m high), and the only way out is via a makeshift rope next to the waterfall.
Jumping into this pool is considered dangerous, and there have been injuries and fatalities in the past. Jumping is entirely at your own risk, and we strongly recommend against it. 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

If you’re driving in via the Old Hume Highway, turn into Rockford Road, and then turn right into Charlies Point Road after crossing the bridge.

From Charlies Point Road, turn right into an unsealed road that leads to the Mermaids Pool parking area (Google Maps location).

If you’re coming in via the Hume Motorway, take the Avon Dam Road exit, then turn into Arina Road, and stay on that road until you can turn left into Charlies Point Road.

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

Map

Here is a map with the parking area marked next to the bridge:

Map of parking area at Mermaids Pool

What’s in a name?
Some confusion exists around the actual name of this natural water hole. Some call it “Mermaids Pool”, others like to call it “Mermaid Pool”, and then there are sources that refer to it as “Mermaid Pools”. Google Maps names it “Mermaids Pool”, and the sign at the bridge at the start of the track also says “Mermaids Pool”. In this article, we’ll be using the name “Mermaids Pool”.

1. Mermaids Pool Walking Track

The walk to Mermaids Pool from the bridge is what most visitors will do when visiting this area. This 4 km return walk can be graded as easy to moderate.

Using a steady pace, this walk can easily be completed in two hours. If you spend more time enjoying the views and perhaps going for a swim in the Bargo River, it can easily take up to four hours.

It’s important to note that this walk is not managed by National Parks or the local council. This is Crown Land, and, as such, there is no official signage, and the path can often be overgrown.

Most of the signage has been created and managed by the bushwalking community. You will see various signs on rocks and trees, all in different colours. When visiting, keep an open mind and be prepared to get a bit confused about the directions and signage. It’s all part of the fun!

Markers along the Mermaids Pool walk
Examples of markers
Mermaids Pool Walking Track
Distance: 4 km (return)
Time: 2-3 hours (including browsing)
Grade: Easy / moderate

Map

There are two walking paths to Mermaids Pool from the bridge: the upper path (easier) and the lower path along the river (more challenging).

These two paths intersect at various locations, which might sometimes be a little confusing. In the below map, the upper path is marked in red.

Map of the Mermaids Pool Walking Track

In this map:

  1. See Through Pools
  2. Mermaids Pool
  3. Lookout One
  4. Lookout Two

If you would like to bring a copy of this map with you, click here to open that map in a new tab and print it out. Let us know if the map was helpful!

Upper or Lower Path

Once you’ve parked your car, look for the Mermaids Pool signpost and follow the walking path under the bridge.

On the other side of the bridge, you’ll have to choose between the Upper Path and the Lower Path to get to Mermaids Pool. The Upper Path follows a ridge and is the easiest of the two. The Lower Path follows the river and is more fun, with some rocks and boulders to climb over.

Mermaids Pool signpost and bridge
Mermaids Pool signpost and bridge

We recommend doing the Upper Path first and the Lower Path on the return. There are several locations on the Lower Path where it’s easy to go for a swim, which is another good reason to do that path on the return.

Pay attention to the various markings on the rocks to work out where the Upper and Lower Path junction is.

See Through Pools

After about 1.5 km, you will see markers pointing to the See Through Pools, which is worth visiting, either before or after visiting Mermaids Pool. To get there, you’ll have to do a small detour down to the water.

The See Through Pools is a magical place with small waterfalls, water cascades, and swirl holes. This is a beautiful spot to go for a quick swim on a warm day.

See Through Pools
See Through Pools

When swimming, please be careful; the water can be pretty deep in some areas, and there are also 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.

Mermaids Pool

Like the See Through Pools, Mermaids Pool is also signposted with markers from the main walking track. Mermaids Pool 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, which is not without risk.

And if jumping isn’t risky enough, 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.

Mermaids Pool
Mermaids Pool

A prominent yellow sign is painted on a flat rocky area above the pool, which says it’s an unsafe spot to jump. 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 considered a sacred site.

The various rock platforms surrounding the pool are perfect for just sitting there for a bit, having a picnic, and enjoying the serenity of the environment.

Two Lookouts

There are two lookouts nearby that offer fantastic views of Mermaids Pool from a distance.

Mermaids Pool lookout
Mermaids Pool lookout

To get to these lookouts, retrace your steps to the main walking track. The first lookout is close by and offers views from the side.

The second lookout is quite a bit further away, and is essentially part of the Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Walk.

Views of Mermaids Pool and Bargo River
Views of Mermaids Pool and Bargo River

To find it, keep walking on the main track until you reach a spot offering clear views of the waterfall and the pool.

Do you enjoy a good bushwalk as much as we do? Read our guide to the best bushwalks in Sydney for more options.

2. Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Walk

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.

The Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Walk, starting from Mermaids Pool, is a challenging hike we recommend only if you’re an experienced bushwalker.

The track is hard to navigate and relies on markers left by other bushwalkers. As such, it’s important to leave those markers in place or add new markers where they can be helpful.

Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Walk
Distance: 8 km (from Mermaids Pool)
Time: 3-5 hours
Grade: Hard (experienced bushwalkers only)

Map

The map below is a rough sketch of the Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Walk, with the “X” being the Mermaid Pool.

This map won’t really be helpful for when you’re there, as you’ll be relying on markers, but it can give you an idea of the route before you go.

Map of the Tahmoor Gorge Circuit Walk

The circuit walk consists of two main sections:

  1. Lower Track (along the river)
  2. Upper Track (along the ridge)

We recommend doing the Lower Track through the canyon first, as that is the most challenging section and requires some climbing and crossing rivers.

The Upper Track is reasonably flat and will eventually bring you back to Mermaids Pool.

Lower Track

From Mermaids Pool, follow the main walking track heading northbound, past the two lookouts we mentioned above.

The Lower Track continues along the Bargo River, which you will need to cross a couple of times. The scenery there is fantastic and makes you feel like you’re far away from civilisation.

The track can sometimes be hard to follow, making you even more grateful for the markers you’ll find along the way.

Tahmoor Canyon
Tahmoor Canyon

If you haven’t had a chance yet to swim, there are quite a few nice spots where you can go for a refreshing dip and feel one with nature.

After a couple of hours of hiking, the Lower Track transitions into the Upper Track. This is perhaps the most challenging part, where you must climb out of the canyon with some very steep bits.

Upper Track

Once you’ve made your way up, the track takes you back via the Sugar Loaf Pass above the Tahmoor Gorge.

There are a few scenic lookout points where you can rest up and take in the impressive views of the area.

Bargo River
Bargo River

At some point, the path does a sharp turn to the left, which makes you feel like you’re going the wrong way.

But do not worry; from this point onward, the track is an easy forest path that brings you back to Mermaids Pool.

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Discover Mermaids Pool and the Bargo River

 
23 Comments
  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing this article. Just wondering if going the upper track, can the see through pools be viewed from the top at all?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa, thanks for commenting.

      To clarify:

      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 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 vocal 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.

      Thank you.

      Reply
  4. 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).

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  5. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
  8. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. 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.

    Reply
  11. 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.

    Reply
  12. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
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