Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool

I recently spent some time down in the Snowy Mountains. I was there to walk some of the tracks around Thredbo, including the walk to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. It was a very cold week for late autumn while I was there, with temperatures ranging from -3ºC to 5ºC. There was even a snowfall up above 1900 metres, most of which was still around on my first day of walking. With temperatures like those I shied away from a swim in a very cold Thredbo River, and instead travelled to Yarrangobilly Caves where there is a thermal pool.  The caves are in a karst region of the Snowy Mountains, and several are open to the public as show caves. They are within the Kosciuszko National Park. The pool was constructed to contain the waters from a hot spring emerging from the limestone. The water is 27ºC all year round. The pool is 20 metres long and deep enough to dive into (if you're that way inclined). I did several lazy lengths, feeling quite warm despite the cool mountain air.

The thermal pool

The hot spring water drains from the thermal pool and flows downhill to meet the Yarrangobilly River about twenty or more metres away. There's a small zone in the river where the waters are warmed by the hot spring water. I enjoyed sitting in this warm river pool, but then, as I swam out into the river itself, the water got colder and colder. By the time I'd crossed the swimming hole it was downright icy. This was a very quick swim indeed.

Yarrangobilly River swimming hole

I soon warmed up on the very steep half kilometre walk back up the hill to the caves themselves.

Walking back to the caves from the pool

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Tidal Baths at Dolls Point

When I first started the swim along Sydney's coastline using tidal baths and rock pools, I was unable to swim at Dolls Point Baths because it had been closed due to storms and sand movement along the beach. Today was my chance to complete this section of my swim.

The tide was quite low when I arrived, and much of the area of the swimming enclosure was exposed beach. However, I swam the length of the shark net in waist deep water, and completed this particular leg of the overall swim.

The western shore of Botany Bay has several swimming enclosures along a long strip of sandy beach, Lady Robinsons Beach.  The enclosures are: Sandringham Baths, Dolls Point Baths, Ramsgate Baths, Monterey Baths, Brighton-le-Sands Baths and Kyeemagh Baths.

Here's another of the warning signs that are now at most of the tidal baths. This one is particular to Dolls Point, and seems to suggest that the conditions that caused the closure of the baths four years ago are still occurring. 

The Tidal Baths At Kyeemagh

One week short of four years ago today, I set off on a jolly jaunt to swim each of the tidal baths and rock pools along Sydney's coastline. The idea was to swim from Port Hacking in the south to Broken Bay in the north using the ocean baths somewhat in the manner of The Swimmer by John Cheever. As it happened, there were one or two of the pools that were closed, either temporarily or permanently, when I turned up to swim. I have since been trying to return to these to complete as much of the swim as I can.

In April 2009, the swimming enclosure at Kyeemagh on Botany Bay had been removed to allow for work on the pipeline under the bay from the desalination plant at Kurnell to inner Sydney.  The plant and pipeline were completed a couple of years ago, and the water board has since restored Kyeemagh baths. Today was the first chance that I've had to swim this section.

It was quite a warm day by the time I arrived here. The showers that had been forecast had stayed away. The shoreline was crowded with gulls and wading birds, and several large cormorants were sitting along the enclosure nets. The water is still very warm (about 24ºC), so it was a very pleasant, lazy swim.

Before I went in the sea, I noticed the warning sign above. Many of the tidal baths and rock pools have had various warning notices put up in the last fifteen years or so. Warnings include things such as uneven depths, stingers, blue ringed octopus and the folly of diving into shallow water.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Swimming In The Royal National Park

There are some excellent bushwalks through the Royal National Park, just south of Sydney. Today I returned to a walk that I last did over twenty-five years ago. I hiked the Uloola Track from Waterfall railway station to Uloola Falls; then the Karloo Track to Heathcote railway station to catch the train back home. There are a good many bushwalks in the National Parks surrounding Sydney that are readily accessible by train, and many walks that operate as a circuit from one railway station to another via some really quite wild country.

One of the many things I enjoy about this walk is that there are several swimming holes in the creeks of the park.

The photo above was taken at the cascades on Uloola Brook, just upstream from Uloola Falls. The water is barely deep enough for a short swim. The real attraction is sitting under, or behind, the tumbling water. This was at nine in the morning, and the water was cold.

The next couple of photos were taken at Karloo Pool on Kangaroo Creek. Here, the water is very deep in places, and you can have a long swim. This pool was still quite cold too. It is mid-Autumn, though, I suppose.