Tuesday, July 23, 2024

How the west was swum: a water-lover’s guide to western Sydney’s best swimming spots

There are many benefits to looking the other way in a city so addicted to the sea. The unpredictable nature of…

By Chan , in Travel , at April 1, 2024

There are many benefits to looking the other way in a city so addicted to the sea. The unpredictable nature of the ocean can amplify feelings. However, the calmness and steadiness of freshwater promote a more relaxed state of mind. We often choose to focus on one over the other.
Sydney Basin and the Blue Mountains are the two main areas. Sydney Basin, or greater Western Sydney, is home to half the city’s residents and most of its cultural diversity. Swimming is the best way to connect with the community.

The Blue Mountains are closer than people think but still completely away from urban life. Within an hour’s drive of Sydney CBD, there are 1,03m hectares (or 1.3 million acres) of ancient and unique wilderness. The sandstone plateaus are carved by water into deep gorges and slot canyons. We have selected some of our favorite places to show the diversity of landscapes and experiences available here. Wild swimming places are dangerous, so be aware of the changing conditions and submerged objects, as well as any warnings.

Cabarita Swimming Centre

Swimming laps at a public swimming pool is a form of meditation. Regularity, rhythm, and consistency are all present. There is no need to focus on anything else than the bottom line of the pool.

Cabarita Swimming Centre is the perfect place to get lost in a moment of reflection. The pool is located on the edge of Cabarita Park and immersed in the Parramatta River, with views of the yacht club next door. Cabarita has eight perfect 50-metre lanes that stretch out like a deck on a cruise ship. It is one of only a few heated saltwater swimming pools in the city. The pool was built over 60 years ago and underwent a massive refurbishment in 2008. This included the installation of new tiles, wet-edge gutters, and filtration systems. The filtering system uses river water that is heated, treated, and pumped into the pool. The system ensures that the water is always clean and clear.

The pool is almost exclusively used by locals (although everyone is welcome). Regulars will be completing their kilometers in the middle of the day. You may also see friendly groups of men catching up to chat and do a few slow lanes. No matter what time you visit, there is rarely more than one swimmer sharing a lane.

Public Transport: Take the T9 train to Burwood from Town Hall Station. From Burwood Station, take bus 466 to Cabarita Park.

Granville swimming centre

Water culture in Sydney’s west revolves around a few public swimming pools that are open all year round. Granville is the best because it’s easy to reach by public transport and is also close to South Street – a hub of all things tasty. Granville, which opened in 1936, is one of the few remaining old-school swimming pools. The modest, single-story building with its polychromatic brickwork represents a fine example of Art Deco architecture from the interwar period. It complements the ultramodern community center located on the same property. It’s nice to see a development that pays homage to a place’s history while still being relevant for the next generation.

The atmosphere at the heated Olympic pool in Granville is relaxed and inviting all year round. Granville, while never empty, is usually quiet enough to allow us to find a lane. We are motivated by the food we eat. Each lap is like a credit that can be used to indulge in the nearby South Street, a world of food, including Indian restaurants, Lebanese pastries shops, and Filipino buffets.

Public Transport: This is the easiest and most convenient way to reach us. The swim center is located 50m away from Granville Train Station. Regular service from T1 and T2 Lines is available.

Lake Parramatta

It isn’t easy to imagine that you will soon arrive in a place as idyllic. Most likely, you’ve come from the busy commercial area of Parramatta to the north. You are suddenly transported to a 73-hectare natural reserve.

Water is only a small part of the reserve. The bushland surrounds it. The reservoir, also known as Hunts Creek Dam, was built in 1856 and served as a local water source. It is now a large heritage-listed recreation site that offers walking trails, barbecues for public use, picnic tables under cover, a playground, and water sports like swimming, kayaking, and boating.

In 2015, the council reopened a swimming area of about 100 meters by 50 meters. Yellow and red buoys mark the depth of the water. They are 1.8 meters, 4 meters, and 8 meters deep at their deepest points. Lifeguards patrol the swimming area during the summer, and it has been made accessible and safe. The location is family-friendly, but the lifeguards warn that it’s not suitable for beginners because of the sudden drop in watercolor. It doesn’t stop groups of teens from jumping off the rocks on the other side. Although it is not a very high jump (between one and two meters), a leap into the water comes with unknowns and risks. It’s safer to refrain.

Facilities: Parking, public BBQs, covered picnic tables, water faucets, walking trails and paddleboats for hire, playgrounds, and cafes.

Public Transport: Take the T1 train from the city to Parramatta Station. Then, walk to the A4 bus stand at the station and take the 600, 601, or 706 bus. Take the T1 train to Parramatta station. Then walk to bus stand A4 (at the station) and get on the 600, 601 or 706.

Jellybean Pool

On a sunny, warm weekend, this natural pool is not secluded, given its proximity to the town and its easy access. It was named for its sweet shape. Jellybean Pool is a popular place for people to relax on the banks and float in water. You can get the feeling of being at a festival as you try to find a place to spread out your towels. The crowds can be a positive sign (it is popular for a very good reason), and Jellybean Pool offers many redeeming qualities.

Park your car at the pool and drive past the information center. Then, descend further down the gorge by descending a steep staircase to the riverbed at the bottom. The wide, bean-shaped laguna (roughly 20 m wide and 150 m long) bends along the landscape, revealing a sandy beach. Glenbrook Gorge is covered in high bush and has large boulders for perching on. These walls enclose the pool. On a hot day in summer, the water is pleasantly cool. Swimmers splash about, chat, or float on colorful inflatable lilos. It is best to enter from the sand near the bottom of the steps. The entry is shallow, gradual, and sludgy. But suddenly, it drops into deep water.

You can swim across the pool to see a flat, glistening rock that reflects the sun until late in the afternoon. You can also bash your way downstream if you prefer more privacy. You will find many small clear pools and cascades. You will eventually reach the Nepean River if you continue. The Blue Mountains are a magical setting and easy to get from the city.

Public Transport: Take the Blue Mountains Line from Sydney Central Station and get off at Glenbrook. From the station, it is another 2.3km to walk south.

Erskine Creek

The swim at Erskine Creek is not very well-known, but it is worth the hike downhill. Photograph by Dillan Seitchik Reardon

Erskine Creek at Jack Evans Track offers one of the closest Blue Mountains swimming spots to the city. It is also one of its most secluded. Pack a picnic so you can stay in the gorge for as long as possible. The deep gorge, typical of this region, was formed by the creek as it slowly carved layers of sandstone on its way to the Nepean River. It’s a narrow valley where the creek meanders between boulders and beaches. Small waterfalls cascade into deep pools. It’s off the beaten path, like many of our favorite places, but it is worth the effort.

You can make a 500-meter side trip from the Nepean Lookout parking lot to reach the named lookout. The trailhead is located near the large signs that are posted in the parking lot. The Jack Evans Track has been well constructed and is easy to follow. The track cruises through open woods with scribbly-bark gums and grasses for a few hundred meters before emerging onto a rock shelf that offers a dizzying view of Erskine Creek and the gorge below. It’s a 2km steady descent from this vantage point to the valley bottom. The ease is only slightly marred by the fact that you have to go back the same way.

You will reach the bottom of a gorge where you can find a large, slow-moving swimming pool. The pool is at least 100 meters long and easily swimmable. We prefer to continue 600 meters further downstream, just after the next bend. You will have to navigate your way through the boulders and trees. There is no defined path from here on. You’ll want to look for small cascades of clear water. Like ancient spa baths, deep pools are nestled between the large boulders. The creek flows into a wide, clean basin below. This is the perfect place to drift in circles for a day. You may spot a platypus if you’re quiet.

How to get there: The easiest way to reach Erskine Creek from Jack Evans Track is by using the Jack Evans Track. Enter Blue Mountains National Park at Glenbrook. Follow Oaks Trail Road past Jellybean Pool. Cross the causeway, which can be closed during heavy rain, and climb the hill. The road becomes an unsealed, well-maintained road that is suitable for any vehicle at the top of this hill. Continue to follow the signs for Nepean Lookout until you reach a dead-end at a gated car park and locked gate. A large sign marks the trailhead of Jack Evans in the parking lot.