Mermaids Pool and Tahmoor Canyon – 8 November 2015

Earlier on my blog, I put a short post about a new video I had seen that highlighted the many beauties of the Tahmoor Gorge in the Southern Highlands. Recently, on social media, there was a posting asking concerned people to sign a petition to the Wollondilly Council asking them to limit development in the area. A housing development is planned for the area near the confluence of the Bargo and Nepean Rivers. This is just downstream from the Tahmoor Gorge. The petition calls for a suitable buffer to be left between the development and the Gorge. Council is expected to vote on this issue on November 16 – so please consider signing the petition.


Not having been in this area, I thought it would be worth visiting. And my friends Enmoore and Stu were after a bshwalk to go on, and this seemed to fit the bill. We Went via the M5 and the Hume Highway, ad turned off at the Avon Dam Road near Pheasants Nest, and then onto Arina Road. This crosses the Bargo River at Rockfords Bridge – and shortly before you reach the bridge, you turn off to the left, and then again to the right to a carpark. the walking track then goes downstream under the bridge. Or you do as we did, drive over the bridge, then turn back looking for the turnoff.


The track is easy to follow, it follows the Bargo River downstream, crosses a small side creek and then climbs up a bit above some small cliffs. At one point there is a recommended side trip – down to the river at a place called “The See Through Pool”. There are some nice waterfalls, cascades and swirl holes here. It was disappointing to see a lot of rubbish nearby – e.g. plastic and glass bottles. Either they had been left by visitors or had been washed down the river from the bridge.

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Then we climbed back up, onto the main track to another side track that goes back down to the river again, but this time it takes you to just above the Mermaids Pool.


This pool is the largest pool on this section of the river and is a popular local swimming hole. According to this site it also has aboriginal significance. It seems to be quite tricky to reach the actual pool. There was a very dodgy rope going down the side to the bottom near the waterfall. There was also a large painted warning sign – saying there was no safe way to the pool. The drop is about 10 metres, and in many places is overhanging. It looks like some local kids jump from the top into the pool and then scramble back up using the rope. There were also a number of bolts in the rock above the top of he waterfall. Perhaps these are used for abseiling abseils?

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I mentioned above, some of the rubbish that can be fund along the river. It was bad to see here a dump of empty detergent bottles. We conjectured that detergent has been added to the river to make the pool below foamy. Not good!


We then climbed back up to the main track once again, and continued along the rim of the Tahmoor Gorge, above the pool. There were some great views of the pool and the gorge. Further along there is a large loop you can walk. We started this by descending down a track (Jacks Pass), to the floor of he gorge and entered what is also called Tahmoor Canyon. The walking along here is a lot rougher than that on the track above, but is mostly quite easy and well marked. It is very pleasant going. We passed many great swimming holes. We did not swim – as the water was quite turbid from recent rain. There were also many small waterfalls and cascades – all quite delightful.

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At one point, the mark route crosses to the far side, and then back again a little downstream. The crossing were easy, even in the fairly high water we had – and we kept our feet dry.


Near the end of the gorge/canyon we climbed up another pass – called either Sugar Loaf Pass or Roses Pass depending on which map you use. Then the track doubles back to the top above the Mermaids Pool. On the way are some good lookouts. We then walked back to the carpark.

This was a very nice walk, in an area new to us all. I would certainly recommend it to others. The walk is described in Robert Sloss’s guidebook – “Bushwalking – Cycling Wollondilly & Macarthur”. I bought my copy from this supplier, but it is also probably available from the local visitor centre at Picton. The area and walks are also described on blogs here and (mentioned above) here. One of those sites has a link to map that you can download. I have copied that map and reproduced it here (click for a larger size).

Click for a larger size

Click for a larger size

Also, at several places along the walk, there are maps nailed to trees, provided by Robert Sloss, who was also responsible for marking the route and the track building.

This is a good area and certainly should be protected in a national Park. You can see more photos of our walk on my website here.

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15 Responses to Mermaids Pool and Tahmoor Canyon – 8 November 2015

  1. Justine says:

    Thank you for the clear explanations, lovely photos & the map! Hoping to head there soon with kids in tow, so just planning on going to See Thru Pools, and appreciate your information!

  2. Pov says:

    Thanks for the directions! One notice – map is drawn upside down 🙂 North is at the bottom.

  3. Harry Lee says:

    Thanks for sharing information. World will be more beautiful with more people like you. Cheers.

  4. Kat Man says:

    How long did the walk take? Does it require a specific level of fitness?

    • Dave Noble says:

      The walk is not that long and OK for people of average fitness. You do need to be fairly agile for the rougher bits. We took a whole day (from about 10 am to 4 pm) – but we stopped a lot for photos and to explore the pools.

  5. Jenny says:

    Thank you for tje amazing info! U mentioned that there were bolts on cliff for abseilimg? Is tjat possible to abseil down to mermaid pool caz I dont dare to cliff jump?

    • Dave Noble says:

      I don’t remember if there were bolts, or good ones, but there were places where you could put a sling around the rocks and abseil off that. You can always walk along the top of the gorge, on the track, then descend to the bottom and walk/scramble over boulders to get to the pool from below.

      • Alanna says:

        Hi Dave,

        In regards to your response above –
        Is that a different route in/out to the rope climb routinely mentioned? Would you consider it a safer alternative?

        I’m weary of trusting a rock-climb over wet stone to an apparently old rope and am eager to verify if there is indeed a viable alternate route in place, albeit one needing walking shoes instead.

        Best regards,

        • Dave Noble says:

          On more recent visits – the rope seems to have been replaced and now seems better, although care would need to be taken. People use it to climb back out after jumping into the pool from the ledge.

          As I mentioned, you can also walk along the top track, descend down the pass, and then walk back upstream to the pool. But this would involve a fair bit of boulder hopping and perhaps some scrub.

          • chriskoz says:

            There is a route over the cliffs on the eastern side of the pool that involves just rock scrambling and not much scrub.
            Cross the creek above waterfall (take care!) and to ascend to the top of the cliff (the flat rockshelf ends in the cliff so you must be above it). You need to find a faint path at the cliff edge which scrambles down to the gully and drop to the N of the lake. This path is used by scouts to access the lake from their camping ground marked on topo map. The camping ground could be easily accessed from the road, but the road trail being private, it is locked with a very solid fence, for obvious reason.

        • chriskoz says:

          The route I described below (sorry, a typo there because I was looking at upside down map: should be on the western side of the lake) is far safer than any dodgy rope used by crazy divers.
          I would not trust any hand over hand rope climb with such height. If you want to access the lake that way, bring you own rope and anchors and descending/ascending device. I’m sure there is possibility of an easy, dry rock climb with top belay but rock climbers don’t come here likely due to annoying noises uttered by bathers, including big splashes by divers and helicopters coming to their rescue/body retrievals once a year on average. And, unless you come in the middle of winter when no one else is present, leave someone on top to guard your rope against pranksters: there are plenty of them in this place.

  6. Peter Hand says:

    Hi david

    I’m the news editor of radio station C91.3 Campbelltown/Macarthur.

    We’re wanting to talk to someone by phone about access to the Mermaid Pools Tahmoor.

    My phone number is 0403 774905

    Peter Hand

    • Dave Noble says:

      It would be best to contact Robert Sloss, who had compiled maps of the Mermaids Pool and Tahmoor Gorge. He has also described the walk in one of his guidebooks. He can be contacted via [email protected]

  7. Hugh says:

    Hello. What’s there any camping spots along the the pools or areas close by?

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