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
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
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…)