A once-popular swimming spot in the Northern Beaches, Mermaid Pool was “renowned for its pristine beauty”, before succumbing to weed infestation, rubbish dumping and urban run-off. It was named after the girls who used to bathe naked in the natural swimming hole during the Great Depression. Before European occupation, it’s been claimed that the local indigenous people believed the creator spirit Baiame lived in the pool, and a result they wouldn’t swim here.
Although no longer suitable for swimming, the area has been significantly rehabilitated since ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ 2002, when 4 tonnes of rubbish were removed by 71 volunteers. A Bushcare group meeets monthly to continue the preservation of this beautiful suburban oasis and wildlife refuge.
The pool is fed by Manly Creek which flows out from Manly Dam (about 400m upstream) and into Mermaid Pool, forming a small waterfall at the upper end of the large pool.
Getting to the Mermaid Pool
Although a sign on King St (Manly Vale) marks the start of the walking track to Mermaid Pool, the pool remains fairly hidden and infrequently visited.
The rough but obvious track descends through bushland to a wide rock ledge overlooking the pool and waterfall. This is the best spot to enjoy the unexpected tranquillity of the pool.
You can get continue along the edge of the pool towards the waterfall; you’ll need to clamber under a sandstone overhang and it will be a bit muddy after rain.
The waterfall itself is nice, but not particularly impressive… it’s the combination of the waterfall and large waterhole surrounded by suburbia (but with no houses visible) that makes this place so special.
Since rehabilitation of the site began in 2002, the “Return of the Mermaids” project (aimed at returning the Mermaid Pool as much as possible to its pristine state) won the People’s Choice Award for the 2011 NSW Landcare Awards and was also a winner of the 2011 SMCMA Community Group Environment Award.
- Gardening Australia (ABC) – Mermaid Pool
- SMH (May 2005) – The nymphs are long gone, but inmates help return pool to glory
- Save Manly Dam Catchment – The Mermaid Pool Project – 2002-2005