The Bargo River Crossing on the Great South Road was so notoriously difficult for travellers, causing many delays and accidents, that it has passed into Australian folklore, in the form of the song Stringybark and Greenhide
‘If you travel on the road, and chance to stick in Bargo, To avoid a bad capsize, you must unload your cargo; For to pull a dray about, I do not see the force on, Take a bit of green hide, and hook another horse on.’
The uncleared scrub on the banks was known as the Bargo Brush, and was much feared as the haunt of escaped convicts turned bushranger.
Address: Turn on to Rockford road from the Old Hume hwy and take a right on to Charlies Point road after a low slung bridge crossing the Bargo river and then immediately another right on to a dirt road. Find parking anywhere along this road. There is an alternative but less scenic entrance at 185 Rockford road. This entrance is marked by private property signs (seems to belong to some scout group) but also an open gate. All the locals seem to use this entry in the summer. The map also indicates that there is an entrance at the end of Sugarloaf creek road. I will check this out next time I am out that way.
Distance: A hard graded 10km loop walk if you park at the Potholes reserve entrance. It took me just under 5 hours with a few short detours and a lot of stops to take pictures. Probably anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on fitness levels and how easily distracted you are! The Easy grade walk to See Through pool and Mermaid Pool is about 2km one way and should take less then two hours.
The track was hard in some sections and there was some stumbling over rocks, nothing very difficult though. There were some unprotected and crumbly cliffs to watch out for and be careful trusting to any rock not boulder sized -and sometimes not even then- not all of them are as steady as they look. There was really no problems keeping to the track at all, the track itself was rather well worn and tidy and there were hundreds of coloured streamers to mark the way. A lot of the walk was really just following the river anyway.
An early start on a cold morning. I done a bit of research about this walk and of everything I read it said the walk was anywhere from 4 to 6 hours and most guides suggested it was very hard to keep to the track. I get lost in my own neighbourhood on a bad day so I erred on the side of caution and left at some cold and stupid hour of the morning to start the walk.
You can see why they call this part of the Bargo River Potholes.
The river is quiet and peaceful but i must admit.. this first part of the walk was done rather quickly in an attempt to warm up!
The track sticks mainly to the river for the first section but has a few trips a little away from it. The surface is interesting and varied but most of it is similar to this with lots of large boulders. Be careful though, even some of these larger rocks were a little shakey to stand on.
Not very far into the walk is See-Thru pool. A popular swimming hole in the summer months. It is currently 3 degrees so uhhh.. no…
And this is Mermaid pool. Beautiful as it is, the only way in is a rather high and dangerous jump and the only way out is this dodgy looking rope and a climb up some wet and slippery rocks. At least a couple of times a year there are people air lifted out of here because of injuries or because they get hurt and are unable to climb back out. There have been several occasions where it was just bodies lifted out too.. There are so many beautiful places to swim in the area.. this is not a good one.
After the side trip to Mermaids Pool, find your way back up to the track. It will head a little away from the river and then around behind Mermaids. Eventually you will reach a lockbox with a logbook that you can sign if you wish. This is where the track forks and you can choose to go down into the gorge or take the higher and easier track. I started with the gorge track, better to get the harder part done while I have the energy! There are some ropes on the steepest parts of the steps to help you get down safely.
There is some amazing scenery down here and it feels like you are in another world, so eerie and beautiful. I did not see or hear a single person on this winter Saturday the whole time I was in the gorge.
This is called Olympic Pool on the maps, a gorgeous deep swimming hole in a tranquil location.
I have seen three different maps drawn by the same person and in each one he has named this waterfall differently. So this is Devils Bend Waterfall or Pencil Falls or Split Waterfall.
There are lovely cascades all along the gorge walk
You are surrounded by soaring cliffs like this most of the way too.
After finishing the walk through the gorge the track takes you back up on to the ridge and past several beautiful lookouts, the first couple of which give some incredible views out over the valley and back down onto the gorge we just walked through.
The last lookout on the Matilda track gives a fantastic view back towards Mermaids Pool.
There is a fourth lookout of sorts, or lookdown at least when you return back to the track above Mermaids.
A wonderful day in a beautiful part of the country. There is something so Australian about this part of the bush. 5 hours just flew by as there was so much to look at and so much scenery to admire. Make sure this is on your to do list!