Just over the Blue Mountains west of Sydney lies the Central West of NSW. This is Wiradjuri country, beloved by the local Indigenous people then and now. The towns and villages of the area are a delight to explore; Bathurst, Orange, Parkes, Cowra, Carcoar, Millthorpe, Forbes and more. The countryside is gorgeous too, with lots of opportunities for wild swimming in rivers, lakes, waterfalls and dams to explore as well as many outdoor swimming pools.
I already have an article about wild swimming and pool swimming in Orange, so I won’t repeat that information here, you can just click through. In this article I list each of the towns and describe the wild swimming (and pool swimming) opportunities around each, starting with Bathurst.
Wild Swimming Around Bathurst
Ration Point, Turon River, Sofala
There are swimming holes in the Turon River at this simple camping ground and picnic spot, just outside Sofala. You can find simple toilets here and plenty space to enjoy this scenic area. There are also shelters with picnic tables. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on the leash.
Find Ration Point on Google Maps here.
Flat Rock Picnic Area, Fish River, O’Connell
About 20 minutes outside Bathurst is this area of grassy space and large rocks in the river. It is a lovely spot to splash about and explore rather than swim far in. After a lot of rain, the river can run fast so make sure you are careful to assess the state of the river when you arrive. After a dip, the little town of O’Connell has a pub, cafe and shops to visit.
Bathurst Aqua Park
A great spot to play as well we swim in the summer months. Chifley Dam is good for all sorts of watersports and in summer has the Bathurst Aqua Park. Chifley Dam is also good for normal dam swimming too and there are cabins and camping areas here.
Swimming Pools in Bathurst
Manning Aquatic Centre, Bathurst
Address: Elizabeth Street, Bathurst
Phone: 02 6332 3333
Manning Aquatic Centre website
Here you will find a 50m outdoor pool with shaded grandstand and grassy space with picnic tables. This pool is open from Otober – April.
Indoors there is a 25m lap pool, a leisure pool with fun water play for children and a hydrotherapy pool.
Wild Swimming Around Oberon
Kalang Falls, Oberon –
Within the Kanangra Boyd National Park, the walk in to the Kanangra Walls Lookout takes about 30 minutes and is about 1.6km long. You can then refresh yourself with a splash under the Kalang waterfall. Flow depends upon recent rainfall, of course.
Download information and a map on the Kanagra Waterfall walk here.
Wild Swimming Around Cowra
Koorowatha Falls, Cowra – after a morning hike in the Koorowatha Nature Reserve, cool down at the Koorowatha Falls, with its spring-fed waterhole for swimming, the name means ‘a place of pine trees’ in Wiradjuri.
Farleigh’s ‘Beach’ Reserve, Cowra – a favourite spot with the locals this peaceful picnic area 10km from town is on the banks of the Lachlan River. Big eucalyptus trees provide shade and there are picnic tables for lunching.
Wyangla Dam, Cowra
This huge dam is a 30-minute drive from Cowra and offers all sorts of water-based fun, including swimming. The dam was created where the Lachlan and Abercrombie Rivers meet.You can camp here and there is also a Reflections Holiday Park. The little village of Wyangala has a Country Club where you can eat. Dissipater Park at the bottom of the towering dam wall is a great spot for a picnic and a play.
Read more about Wyangala Dam at the Visit Cowra website here.
Cowra Swimming Pools
Cowra Aquatic Centre (the Billabong)
Address: 140 Taragala Street, Cowra
Phone: 02 6340 2150
Cowra Aquatic Centre website is here
This is an outdoor 50m pool with a toddler pool alongside. There is plenty of space to play and picnic beside the pool.
Wild Swimming at Lake Cargellico
Lake Cargelligo – this huge 8km long natural inland lake is an oasis for water sports and birdwatching, some 216 bird species recorded! Join the locals with their passion for sailing, water skiing, swimming and kayaking and relax on its peaceful foreshore.
Wild Swimming Around Forbes
Forbes Ski Dam, Forbes – a beautiful spot on the bend of Lake Forbes the Dam is the local beach for swimming, water sports and comes with a playground, BBQ shelters and backs onto 10km of walking and cycling trails.
Lake Forbes Kids Waterpark – this free outdoor water ‘spray’ park is a great way to cool off the kids with lovely new shades
Wild Swimming Around Parkes
Lake Endeavour and Bumberry Dam, Parkes –take the kids to see ‘The Dish’ during the morning, and as it heats up, cool off dam-side at these popular local attractions for canoeing, bushwalking and birdwatching.
Parkes Aquatic Centre – swim at the 50-metre heated pool and kids splash pool and enjoy facilities including the poolside cafe, BBQ area, play equipment and diving boards.
Wild Swimming Carcoar
Carcoar Dam, Carcoar – pick up a grazing picnic platter from Carcoar’s Village Grocer, or hot chips from Tony’s Takeaway in Carcoar, and enjoy swimming, water sports and fishing at this local Dam on the Belubular River.
More Central West Wild Swimming
Company Dam, Grenfell – a beautiful spot surrounded by bush just near town is ideal to cool down and watch wildlife come for a drink on dusk.
Gum Bend Lake, Condobolin – this serene man-made lake sits alongside the Lachlan River and is a hotspot for the locals for water skiing, swimming, and picnics in the huge rest area.
Check out more ideas on this article too.
More Central West Swimming Pools
Also at Manning Aquatic Centre in Bathurst, Forbes Olympic Pool, Orange Aquatic Centre, Grenfell Aquatic Centre, Molong Pool, Canowindra Pool and Cowra Aquatic Centre. Cabonne has seven public pools with a place to take a dip in most villages.
Thanks to Visit Central West for supplying many of the photos used in this article. Read more about this beautiful part of NSW on the Visit Central West website.