I think there’s something so lovely and relaxing about splashing and swimming at a natural swimming spot, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the bush! You feel like you are a million miles from the hustle and bustle of city life. And we always leave feeling refreshed. More so when we visit these eight natural swimming spots on a weekday and are one of only a few families there! They are so much more peaceful than a busy ocean beach, but also come with different risks, like varying depths, changing tides and water quality.
In most cases, these eight natural swimming spots are far quicker to get to than heading to an ocean beach. Even if they are a longer distance to travel to. And they are generally a much nicer drive, with a LOT less traffic!
The eight natural swimming spots listed here are all along rivers and creeks in reserves or national parks and free to access. Though there are parking fees at some. We have chosen these swimming spots for their family-friendliness. They are easy to get to with kids and have varying water depth for kids of different ages to play in.
The suitability of each of the natural swimming spots to your family will change depending on the age of your children and their swimming ability. All but one are NOT patrolled and we highly recommended checking water depth before letting your kids enter. Particularly when the water is brown (due to sediment), as you can’t see the bottom, and your little ones can’t swim, as the water depth can change quickly.
NOTE: It is strongly advised NOT to swim for 3 days after heavy rain. And make sure to pack mozzie repellent and sunscreen!
List of Family-Friendly Natural Swimming Spots
Here are eight natural swimming spots that I have tested with my family over the last few years. I have ordered them based on convenience, facilities available and my family’s favourites. PLEASE let me know if I have missed one! Note: most are in Western Sydney but some are technically just outside. All can be reached within an hour of Parramatta.
1Lake Parramatta | North Parramatta
There is so much to do at this natural oasis, just north of Parramatta. Lake Parramatta Reserve is popular for picnicking, bushwalking and now water activities – swimming, canoeing and paddle boating. Plus, there are BBQs, toilets, a playground and cafe. There is only a very small shallow splash area and so this swimming spot is better suited to kids who can swim. Lifeguards are on duty every weekend, every day of the summer school holidays and all public holidays from late October until April.
2Yarramundi Reserve | Richmond area
This gorgeous natural swimming spot along the Grose River is both peaceful and fun. There are shallow sections as well as deeper parts, a gentle current to float on, sand and lots of room along the banks for a family picnic. We love playing with the pebbles and making a little ‘dam’. There is a small tidal change. And when the water is flowing down the Grose River to the Nepean River, the water is crystal clear. But it can get a little murky when going the other way. Yarramundi Reserve is a dog off the leash park so your furry family members can join in the fun.
3Jellybean Pool | Glenbrook
Jellybean Pool is in the Blue Mountains National Park at Glenbrook. It’s along the Glenbrook Creek and a gorgeous spot to take the kids for a splash! From the carpark, it’s a 100m walk down stairs. Being in a National Park, there is a parking fee of $8 per day (unless you have a National Parks Annual Pass). There is a ‘sandy’ beach area and the water is shallow before going deeper. Depending on when you visit, there will be more or less natural shade on the beach and over the water.
- Tips: the sand has small pebbles in it so it’s worth wearing water shoes. The toilet is at the park entrance so best to stop before heading down.
- Address: Jellybean Road, Blue Mountains National Park, Glenbrook
- More Info
4Cabarita Beach | Cabarita
While technically not in Western Sydney, Cabarita Beach is the closest beach to Parramatta and along the Parramatta River. This beach is the most western spot you can currently swim at in Parramatta River. It was assessed as swimmable in 2015 and we have seen pods of dolphins there which is a great sign. Unfortunately there is no shark net and so we restrict our ‘swimming’ here to just splashing in shallow water. There is metered parking, ferry wharf, shaded playground, shade on the beach, kiosk at marina, swimming centre, bbqs, picnic tables, lots of shells, toilets (but not near beach) and only waves from passing boats.
5Simmo’s Beach | Macquarie Fields
We only very recently found out about Simmo’s Beach. It’s on the Georges River at a lovely reserve, with a great playground, bushwalks, picnic tables, BBQs and lots of on-site parking. The walk down to the beach is via a steep set of stairs but there are railings and they are good, wide stairs. There is a little shade on the beach but we recommend bringing some with you. The water starts off shallow and then slowly gets deeper. We hear Simmo’s Beach is very popular on weekends in summer but was almost empty when we went in the spring school holidays. Our review is coming but in the meantime, check out Campbelltown Council’s website.
6Bents Basin | Near Badgerys Creek
Just past where Sydney’s 2nd airport will soon be built, you will find this gorgeous spot along the Nepean River. Bents Basin is managed by National Parks so there is a fee to park. It’s $8 a day or free if you have an National Parks Annual Pass. There is a popular campground a short walk from the swimming area. Plus toilets and picnic facilities. From the car park, it’s about 150m to the water. And there are lots of spots along the banks to lay out your towel. Depending on when you go, there will be shade on different parts of the swimming area. The water is brown and starts off shallow before going deep.
- Tips: double check that you have everything before walking down to the water as the walk back up to the car is a bit steep.
- Address: Bents Loop Road, Bents Basin State Conversation Area
- More Info
7Crosslands Reserve | Hornsby Heights
Another one that’s technically not in Western Sydney, but only 45mins north of Parramatta. The reserve is in the Berowra Valley National Park, along Berowra Creek. There’s lots of parking, picnic shelters, toilets, BBQs, playground, bushwalks, plenty of space to spread out and even camping. Yes ticks all the boxes!
8Macquarie Beach | Windsor
Opposite Windsor, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, is Macquarie Park with a beach, playground and cafe. There is lots of ‘beach’ but no shade, unless you go further along, around the corner. So best to bring a beach tent or umbrella. The water is brown and the depth does vary quickly so best to check the depth where you are before the kids go in (if they can’t swim). When we last visited, I had the scary experience of my youngest (3yrs) being in shin deep water one minute and completely under the next. Thankfully I was able to grab him quickly but in this section (around the corner from the main area) the beach just drops away. The car park was recently upgraded along with some paths down to the water and facilities. There are toilets and picnic tables.
- Tips: bring a beach tent or umbrella and check water depth.
- Address: Wilberforce Road, Freemans Reach
- More Info
Map of Local Family-Friendly Natural Swimming Spots
I’ve mapped the natural swimming spots listed above, along with other family friendly swimming spots along creeks/ rivers in Greater Sydney. I can reach all of them in less than an hour easily from Rydalmere most days. And depending when you go, you are likely to be going against the traffic.