Declared a National Park in 2012 and the traditional land of the Dharawal Aboriginal people, Dharawal National Park features in many Web sites for its two swimming holes – Jingga Pool and the women-only Minerva Pool. It’s easy to find thanks to Google Maps – but I’m surprised that there is zero signage until you reach the carpark at the end of Victoria Road. Here there are signs clearly showing the different walking and cycling options. The carpark is pretty full – but it is a weekend on a beautiful February afternoon! The walk starts on the O’hares Creek Lookout Walking Track, which is really a continuation of Victoria Road (but unsealed and closed to traffic).
After about 500m of very easy walking along the wide road, there’s a clearly marked junction with the Jingga walking track. This soon descends very steeply – it’s hard to imagine a vehicle getting up or down here, even though it looks like an old 4WD maintenance track.
Towards the bottom the track starts levelling out, and becomes a narrow and shaded walking track, with large sandstone boulders on the upper side and O’hares Creek below.
Suddenly Jingga Pool comes into view, with a waterfall at one end plunging into the deep swimming hole.
In the Dharawal language ‘jingga’ means ‘nice and sweet’, and it’s not surprising that this idyllic pool makes into a number of books and Web sites featuring the top swimming holes around Sydney! Unfortunately it’s not exactly secluded, and there’s a multitude of local kids who are swimming and jumping into the pool.
Before we head up back up the hill, Amy has a couple of jumps off the small cliff into the pool, which is fairly deep!
Despite it still being fairly warm at 4pm when we reach the main track, after the steep (but short) climb up the Jingga track, I convince my daughter we really should have a look at Minerva Pool while we’re here…
The Minerva Pool walking is also well-marked, heading off the main O’hares Creek Lookout Walking Track just before the carpark. The narrow walking track undulates a little and crosses the 10B firetrail on its way to Minerva Pool, a natural waterhole in Stokes Creek. (It may be possible to follow O’hares Creek and Stokes Creek between Jingga Pool and Minerva Pool – but it would be slow going as the rocks are very slippery and the scrub along the creek is quite dense. But it’s an idea for another weekend!)
Just before reaching the pool there’s a short side-track to a viewing platform.
Minerva Pool is reached ony a few hundred metres further, with the very last section requiring a short scramble down to the sandstone rocks above the pool. There’s a warning sign – ignored by a few swimmers – which explains that Minerva Pool is a sacred women’s place for the Dharawal People, and only women and children should enter the water.
Even without entering the water, it’s a serene spot with only a handful of people picnicing around the pool.
We return the same way back to the car, having enjoyed a swim and a nice walk to both of Dharawal’s swimming holes. It would be a perfect walk for week-day, when you’d probably have both pools to yourself!
0.0km Start at Victoria West Fire Trail 0.5km Junction with Jingga walking track 1.6km Jingga Pool 3.1km Return to main track (O'Hares Creek Lookout Walking Track) 3.4km Junction with Minerva Pool walking track 4.5km Minerva Pool lookout 4.8km Minerva Pool 6.8km Return to carpark at Victoria West Fire Trail gate