When you first reach Lake Eckersley after the long walk in, you probably feel ready for a swim and the water looks
oh-so tempting. But for a superior swim, resist the temptation and forge on 300 metres downstream, through the overgrown, narrow
bush track to the campground. Here you will be rewarded with a deep swimming hole with a sandy beach entry at the bottom of the
lake, right outside your tent.
Above: The swimming hole at Lake Eckersley Campground, with the diving rock mid-river
(Order this image)
The water gets deep fairly quickly from the little sandy beach, which is no more than a couple of metres across. Not
quite big enough for relaxing on a towel, but it does provide a clear and open entry point to the water. Visibility in the
shallows is good, with a golden path of sand leading the way out into the river. Look out for the little
schools of juvenile fish, darting about in the warm water at the edge.
After you push off into the lake, head across to the rock in the middle of the river. This rock has a ledge under the
water on which you can stand and launch yourself off back into the pool. When I visited, on a morning after light drizzle,
there was virtually no current in the water, so I could swim straight out without being pushed downstream.
Above: Lake Eckersley campground
(Order this image)
The last few hundred metres of the track to the campground along the lake shore are difficult. The track is poorly defined in parts, and
encroached by vegetation. Long pants, a long sleeve shirt and a hat are an absolute must for the sharp rushes that you need to push aside as
you walk. When the track starts to open up with more rock under foot, the campground is quite near, so keep moving forward, keeping the river
on your left hand side. The campground is unmissable if you stay near the river, and is clearly marked on my map below. Despite this minor extra
effort, this is one of my favourite swims in the Heathcote National Park, and far superior to swimming back at the lakeside fireplace.
The campground itself is small with no separation between individual camping spots. It's probably best suited to small groups looking
for a spot in the Heathcote National Park that is reasonably easy to reach, but away from the crowds. The camping area has a slight slope towards
the river, a few rocks and rock ledges to sit on, and a steep sandstone wall on the opposite side of the river that makes a great echo.
Here is a video that I took on a still morning, which includes information on the walking track and both swimming spots at the lake.
Other Information Before You Go:
Accessible from the Pipeline Trail, Heathcote National Park, near Heathcote,
38 km (approx. 1 hr drive to the start of the walk) south-west of Sydney.
There are several access points for the Pipeline Trail. I started from the Goburra Track, at
the end of Oliver Street in Heathcote, where you can park your car on the side of the road. This track takes you
over the hill and down natural sandstone steps to the Pipeline Trail. Follow the Pipeline Trail for approximately
4 km. About 2 km past Mirang Pool there is a sign clearly indicating the track to Lake Eckersley. Once you reach
the lakeside, continue west along the narrow track that runs alongside the lake for approximately 300 metres to the
campground. Walking is very easy along the Pipeline Trail, but moderately steep down Goburra Track and again down
to Lake Eckersley. You can also catch the train to Heathcote, and then it's a 1 km walk across the Princes Hwy and
down Oliver Street to the start of the walking track.
Campground but no other facilities.
Sand entry with occasional large sandstone rocks in the deeper water
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
No pets other than certified assistance animals, no smoking, no
campfires, no solid fuel burners, no gathering firewood, no generators, no amplified music.
No shade in the water in the morning and middle of the day, but likely to be shade over the water in the
late afternoon. Shade available out of the water.
Campsites are available at the Lake Eckersley Campground, limited to a total of six occupants at any given
time, for one night stays only.
You can book these through the managing authority for a nominal fee ($12 per night last time I checked). If you are
staying overnight in the area and don't want to camp, or want to stay longer than a single night, you can try
accommodation in nearby Heathcote
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Nearby attractions: Mirang Pool
, 1.5 km back towards Heathcote along the Pipeline Trail.
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. Specific to this site, make sure you are wearing long pants, a
long sleeve shirt and a hat to brush aside the vegetation over the last few hundred metres of the walk.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the campground where I swam. Note that as of December 2017, Google Maps currently
indicates the wrong position for the campground. If anyone spots that Google Maps has updated the position of the campground
to that shown on my map below, please let me know via the comment box below. Equally, don't be fooled by the photos on the NSW
National Parks and Wildlife Service website for Lake Eckersley Campground, which actually illustrate the lakeside fireplace,
not the campground!
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming spot, please fill in the comment box below.
I am particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.