Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heathcote National Park

Sydney is surrounded by National Parks. These are mostly on rugged sandstone ranges cut by creeks and rivers. They have a distinct vegetation, and are usually covered in dense bushland. Many are accessible by Cityrail train. Often you can walk into the park from one railway station and walk out at another station.
One of my favourite National Parks is Heathcote. I usually manage to go down there a couple of times a year to bushwalk and swim. I get the train to Waterfall station, walk about ten kilometres, and catch the train home from Heathcote station.
Swimming in the creeks and rivers in the park is one of my favourite activities.
Swimming hole on Heathcote Creek
There are many pools along the creeks and rivers, all of which are great for swimming in. The one in the photo above is just off the Bullawarring walking track. This is usually where I have my first swim of the walk. The dark colour of the water is due to staining from all the submerged eucalyptus leaves.

Kingfisher Pool
Taken from a rock ledge several metres above the pool. When there's been plenty of rain, there is a waterfall tumbling down from this ledge. It's fun both to walk behind it or to swim beneath it. Kingfisher Pool is a popular swimming hole, though I was here on my own this morning. The water was very warm today, and I spent a long time just floating on my back looking up at the cliffs and the tall gum trees.
Off the track
This is my favourite swimming holes. It is quite some way off the walking track, but well worth the scramble down the gully, through the bush. I found it by accident about four years ago. I was walking along a ridge, when I noticed a cairn just off the track. I guessed that it was a marker for a swimming hole. As I descended to the creek, I made small cairns of my own , so that I could more easily find my way back to the track. I've added to the cairns over the last few years, and now have no problem finding the pool. There are some deep holes here that are lovely and cool even in summer.


Lake Eckersley looking North

Lake Eckersley looking South
Lake Eckersley is a huge waterhole on the Woronora River. You can swim a long way up and down the lake, and it's so deep that you don't have to worry about scraping your knees on submerged rocks or tree branches. Worrying about eels is another matter. I swam my inelegant front crawl up and down the lake a couple of times. I met some young people here who told me all about a swimming hole I'd never been to before. I was keen to swim there later in the day.


Pool above Mirang Pool

Rocks leading down to Mirang Pool
Mirang Pool is another popular swimming hole, but I usually climb upstream to a smaller pool to swim. It's in the shade for much of the day, so it's usually cooler than Mirang. When theres been a bit of rain, the rocks leading down to Mirang have a series of cascades. At some places, you can lie with your head underneath a strong cascade. Also there are lots of potholes in these rocks, and some become natural jacuzzis when the water is flowing strongly.


"Rovers" pool

Rocks to jump off
The young people I met at Lake Eckersley directed me to this waterhole. They called it "Rovers Pool", and they told me that they enjoyed jumping from the rocks into some very deep water. I had yet another long swim here, then jumped off the rocks a couple of times for good measure. They were right - it is very deep indeed.

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