Nethercote Falls has a large, deep pool nestled in a rock gorge with a sizeable waterfall at one end. The pool is around 40 metres long and up to 15 metres wide, so there is
plenty of room to do some laps, even when there are others swimming there as well. When I visited on a hot summer's day during the holidays, there were about 20 people
dangling their feet in the water, a handful more resting under the shade next to the river, and half a dozen swimming in the water at any given time. The water is
quite calm away from the falls, so you can easily float around on a lilo if you are prepared to blow it up when you get there.
The pool at Nethercote Falls in full swing for swimming on a warm summer's day
(Order this image)
One of the most popular activities is jumping off the rock wall into the water below. Most people jump off a ledge about 3-4 metres up.
There are warning signs advising people not to dive or jump into the water, and I know of one case reported in 2013 when a teenage girl fell unconscious into the water after
slipping on the rock ledge, nearly drowning and only regaining consciousness again in hospital. If you are thinking of jumping, assess the risks on the day (including submerged rocks),
watch others closely and be very careful on the way up, particularly if you have wet feet. Having said that, when I visited, someone was jumping every few minutes.
Swimming downstream of the falls at Nethercote Falls
(Order this image)
Getting to the falls was harder than I anticipated. The link road in is quite narrow, so on a busy day, be prepared to face other cars head on. From the upper car
park, the walk down to the lower car park is very steep, and it is even steeper on the way back up! Keep your load to a minimum - I was carrying a 12 kg child and it left
me gasping for breath most of the way up. On the walking track from the lower car park there is one shallow river crossing. I managed to get across on the rocks and logs
placed in the river as a makeshift bridge and not get my feet wet, but it would have been much easier just walking through the water in sandals or thongs.
If you are planning to have a picnic here, there is a solitary picnic table at the falls that gets occupied early in the day. There are several tables and open
fire barbecues at the upper car park, but that is well away from the falls and the river. This is a fantastic swimming spot and definitely one of my favourites in New South Wales.
Here is a video that I took when visiting the falls in early summer on a hot day when the pool was full and the falls were flowing strong. You will see a few
cliff jumpers and lots of people chatting and playing in and around the water.
Permanent Closure of Nethercote Falls:
NSW Forestry Corporation announced (on 17/8/2015) plans to permanently close access to Nethercote Falls. Here is
a copy of the media release
from NSW Forestry Corporation.
My public statement in response to this issue
has been published
online and in print in the Merimbula News Weekly, which is the local paper circulating in the area which first reported on this issue.
Reducing risks to public safety at the falls is extremely important, however in annoncing the decision,
NSW Forestry Corporation does not appear to have considered other alternatives, such as safety barriers, improved signage and widening of the access road to the upper car park. For the record,
I support the closure of the very steep and narrow access road to the lower car park, but oppose the closure of the falls without evidence that other alternatives to improve
safety have been duly considered and trialled. This swimming hole is nationally significant, and all effort should be made to keep it open to the public by making safety
improvements at the site. Here is a petition opposing the closure of the falls
which has attracted
over a thousand signatures. You are also welcome to leave a comment at the bottom of the petition or on my page below for others to read - I'd love to hear more
about your personal connection with the falls and why it is such an important place to keep open. If you want to tell the NSW Forestry Corporation what it should do instead,
please send those comments directly to the NSW Forestry Corporation, the Bega Valley Shire Council or local media.
Other Information Before You Go:
Nethercote Falls Link Road, Nullica State Forest, 470 km (approx. 6.5 hour drive) south-west of the Sydney CBD or 260 km (approx. 3 hr 15 min drive)
south-east of Canberra.
From the Princes Hwy immediately south of Pambula, head west along Mount Darragh Rd for 5 km then south along Back Creek Rd for 5 km until you
reach Pipeclay Rd. Head east into Pipeclay Rd then veer right into the Nethercote Falls Link Rd about 400 metres later. Follow the link road for 1 km until you
reach the upper car park. The link road is dirt and mostly only enough width for one car. 2WD cars ok in fair weather. Once you reach the car park, if you have a 4WD
with a small turning circle, you can attempt the very steep descent to the lower car park, otherwise it is a 300 metre walk down to the lower car park. From the lower
car park there is 300 metre walk to the falls including one river crossing. From the Princes Hwy south of Eden, head up the Nethercote Rd then Back Creek Rd until
you reach Pipeclay Rd then follow the directions as above.
Toilets, open fire bbqs, tables, car park
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
Unknown at the current time, as I haven't visited since the closure. Access
is prohibited, but according to an article in the local paper
after the closure (Merimbula News, 28/8/15
NSW Forestry Corporation are not prosecuting people if they visit the falls.
No shade on the water. Limited shade near the pool entry. Plenty of natural shade at the picnic tables remote from the falls.
There are no designated camping areas in the Nullica State Forest. If you want to stay in the area near these falls, you can try the following options.
All distances below are by road, not as the crow flies, with Pambula and Eden the nearest large towns.
Forestry Corporation of New South Wales
Magic Mountain in Merimbula if you want some water park fun.
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 there have been significant injuries caused
by jumping off the cliffs that overlook the pool.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the waterfall.
Here is one personal account of visiting the falls which illustrates the therapeutic value of the falls for the health industry and the
specific impact that the closure will have on local disabled members of the community. This is one of the many broader community benefits of
the falls that I have seen no evidence were taken into account in the decision to close the falls:
"I visit the falls probably 15 times a year and have done so for many years. I work in the disability field as a
carer and take some clients there. They love it. It makes them feel special to walk to the falls and see such a beautiful place.
Forestry NSW may close it, but keeping people from going there is not going to happen."
- M.Skitt, Merimbula, Australia 13/10/2015
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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