Party: Anna, Lauren, Hiswaty, Prab, Andrew, Christian (leader)
Date: 20/02/2016
Photos here:

The Tahmoor Gorge, (or Canyon as it’s otherwise named) and Mermaids Pool are located on the Bargo River, just north of Mittagong. It is one of Sydney’s little “secret” spots that has somehow remained off the radar for many bushwalkers. The area has recently been the subject of a conservation campaign, as there is proposed residential development nearby that will put the ecology of the area under threat. Even in it’s current state, this pretty spot has suffered somewhat from the work of vandals and litter bugs mainly in the vicinity of the Mermaids Pool.

On Saturday 20 Feb 2016 I led a walk to do a circuit of the Tahmoor Gorge via the Mermaids Pool. The track start is not signposted, but once on it there are many markers, although some are a bit hard to find occasionally. Much of it has been marked out by Robert Sloss, who has also even posted laminated maps on trees in places. His guidebooks are worth sussing out if you can find them. I have been here in spring and recommend it for the amazing wildflower displays.

After leaving the cars at the Bargo River bridge at 10am, we started out on the unmarked trail head. We had a party of 6 , a good number which kept a comfortable pace, despite it being a bit hot and sticky. At least we had a river to cool off in if we needed it. A few km downstream we arrived at the Mermaids Pool, a popular waterfall and local swimming hole. Perhaps too popular, judging by the sad presence of graffiti and rubbish in some parts. We then headed towards Jacks Pass which drops you down to the lower parts of the gorge. This is where the gorge feels wilder and seems to be much less visited and thus, more pristine. We picked our way over rocks and through cool glades to a major bend in the river, spotting some large carp swimming in some of the deeper pools. Once around the bend, a series of small waterfalls made for pleasant walking, even though the day was warming up fast. A shady spot near a  pretty set of falls made a good place for lunch.

After we progressed along downstream, more waterfalls and good views up the cliffs kept the walking interesting. Even though I have been here before, I did briefly lose the vague track a few times!

A small river crossing was needed, but as the river was very low it was not a problem this time. Prab spotted a staghorn fern on a tree, an unusual sight I what otherwise is quite dry sandstone country. We then began the ascent up to the cliff lines with a short but sweaty climb out to the top. A fresh landslide was encountered along the way. Back on top, were some nice views up the gorge and across towards Camden. Sadly, once the development goes ahead this view will probably include more houses, than the bush covered farmland that currently exists.

It was about 3.30pm when we got back to the Mermaids Pool area, so we dropped down to the river at a place known as the See-Through Pools where we cooled our feet in a pretty and unspoiled part of the Bargo River. We returned to the cars at about 4.30pm. One the way home the sky looked a bit threatening and a quick BOM radar check showed an very severe storm headed directly toward us. We managed to get to Campbelltown Station before it hit, but we were lucky that we hadn’t been caught in it on the track.

All in all, it’s a pretty walk of 10km that can take up to 5 hours to complete at a moderate pace. There are so many nice little spots there, that it’s good to take your time to enjoy it. It’s a place well worth visiting while it remains free of development. We can only hope the fight to preserve it is successful.

Thanks to everyone who came along for a very enjoyable day out.

More on the Bargo  Nepean Proposal can be found here:
and here:

— Christian Wilson