Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

An excellent walk that passes through the atmospheric Tahmoor Canyon, and also visits the particularly scenic Mermaids Pool.

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

After 13 years of bushwalking around Sydney we are still doing new walks that exceed expectations. The Southern Highlands circuit visiting Mermaids Pool and passing through Tahmoor Canyon was one such walk. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it was fairly popular so it’s evidently not a secret. Mermaids Pool is probably the most scenic pool I’ve seen in NSW, and Tahmoor Canyon was deep and very atmospheric in places. Definitely recommended.

If you are doing the walk in warmish weather then there are numerous swimming holes along the way. Mermaids Pool isn’t really one of them though, because there is no easy or safe access in or out (except maybe from the northern end, which would require entering from Tahmoor Canyon). There have apparently been a number of spinal injuries incurred at this spot.

Track notes at the end.

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon: The Scenery

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
The Bargo River at the start were we parked the car.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
The Bargo River.

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
An old diesel engine. I forget what it was once used for.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Bargo Falls
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Bargo Falls
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Bargo Falls
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Mermaids Pool. You know a scene is nice when Sophia (on the right) can be bothered to take a picture.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Mermaids Pool (again)
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Mermaids Pool. There’s apparently no safe entry to or exit from the pool, and people incur spinal injuries from time to time jumping in and trying to get out.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Mermaids Pool yet again. It was very picturesque.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
A section of Tahmoor Canyon. I believe it is over 100m deep in places.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Tahmoor Canyon.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Dropping down into the canyon.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Inside Tahmoor Canyon.

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Sophia in a picturesque spot.

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
The sun was really making it hard to capture this scene, but this shot just about works.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
I particularly liked this section of the canyon, with the small stand of rainforest plants in an otherwise dry landscape.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Tahmoor Gorge from above.
Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
Mermaids Pool again, this time on our way back in cloudier weather.

Track Notes

I’m still discovering good new walks in the guide book Best Walks of the Southern Highlands by John and Gillian Souter (2012 edition, although there’s now a 2019 edition out). Their books have good track notes and are in full colour. A rather dedicated volunteer(s?) also left free maps in a box on the track, and I have posted a picture of that below – hopefully you can read it.

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW
A free map provided along the track (at the point marked ‘log book box’).

The route is marked pretty clearly with a variety of tape, metal markers and paint on rocks. We started on a dirt road near Rockford Bridge, and the junction of Rockford Road and  Charlies Point Road. From there you walk on down stream on the true right of the Bargo River, passing Bargo Falls and Mermaid Pools (with short side trips to see both of these). We then did the Tahmoor Canyon circuit anti clockwise, although it seems most people did it clockwise. Just moderately difficult with a couple of steep sections. Possibly harder if the river level is high.

Nearby Walks

If you are interested in doing more walks in the NSW Southern Highlands then have a browse through the ones I’ve done below. It’s generally not quite as picturesque as the Blue Mountains or Royal National Park, but there are a few lesser known gems to be done.

Belmore Falls Walking Track

I’d seen Belmore Falls on Instagram, and was surprised I hadn’t visited them before, because they are a very attractive two tier waterfall. The walk to see them is very short (1.8km return), and in fact we visited with my 81 year old mother-in-law in tow, and did an even shorter walk than that described on the NPWS site (just a couple of hundred metres from the car park probably). They are well worth the visit if you are in the area (Robertson in the NSW Southern Highlands), and were particular good when we visited, as there had been heavy rainfall in the preceding few days. (more…)

Box Vale Circuit, Southern Highlands near Mittagong

The Box Vale Circuit is a lesser travelled walk in the Southern Highlands near Mittagong. It follows an old mining railway cutting at first, with valley views on a short side trip. It then descends very steeply into wilderness, follows a river, then climbs back out, passing the attractive Forty Foot Falls on the way. You may well meet other walkers, but probably not in the middle half of the walk, which skirts a section of the Nattai River and feels a bit more remote. (more…)

Bundanoon Gorge Lookouts, Southern Highlands NSW

The main highlights of this walk are the views over Bundanoon Gorge and adjacent valleys from three viewpoints, all accessed on the first half of the walk. The route is mostly flat along forestry management roads, and passes through eucalypt forest and pine plantations.  This kind of walking isn’t the most interesting, but I think I was just happy to be outside after time off in part due to a leg injury, so I enjoyed it nevertheless. The views from the lookouts are good, and there were sections of many wattle trees, so early spring is a good time for this walk. (more…)

Green & White Tracks, Bungonia National Park

Bungonia National Park was a new find for me, and its spectacular karst landforms make me wonder why it’s not more famous. Without a great deal of time I did a fairly easy circuit walk, the Green Track, taking in the main lookouts over  spectacular canyon and gorge scenery. A short side trip along the White Track added one more excellent lookout over the Shoalhaven River Valley.

(more…)

Gerringong Falls Circuit, Budderoo National Park

This partial circuit in Budderoo National Park takes you to the top of the impressive Gerringong Falls, with views of the falls just a side trip off the main track. The falls are apparently 150-180m high. There’s heath vegetation and a section of tall forest along the way. I’d say you’re unlikely to meet many (or possibly any) other walkers; we didn’t at least.  (more…)

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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