Just 10-15 minutes walk from Winifred Falls is one of the best swimming holes in all of the Royal National Park.
South West Arm Pool features a pristine deep swimming pool with lots of places to sit in the sun, a rope swing, a rock jump and a low tide some nice sandy beaches on the river bank. It’s a great place for families and kids and isn’t a marked tracking making it much less crowded than the popular Winifred Falls nearby.
It is accessible by hiking in and is also a popular spot for boats and canoes.
South West Arm Pool Key Information
Distance: 4 kms (return)
Difficulty: Easy (some steep hills and loose rocks on fire trail)
Opening times: All year round
Best time to visit: Sunny days, winter or summer
Entrance fee: Royal National Park Entry Fees Apply – See Full Details
- Toilets, Cafe and information centre nearby at Audley
- No facilities on the trail
- Some steep sections with loose rocks on the fire trail – can make slipping over easy.
Where Is South West Arm Pool? (MAP)
South West Arm Pool is located inside the Royal National Park and can be accessed via Winifred Falls using the Winifred Falls Fire Trail off Warumbul Road.
You first walk to Winifred Falls and then follow the river downstream (keeping the river on your right) about 500 metres to get to South West Arm Pool and rope swing.
The easiest way to access South West Arm Pool is via car with parking at Warumbul Road. However, you can also walk to Winifred Falls from Audley and even access it via public transport from Loftus or Engadine Train Station.
However, many people also access South West Arm Pool by boat coming from the Port Hacking River and travelling up South West Arm Creek until you reach the end.
It’s only accessible for small boats and canoes and is best to visit at high tide otherwise some sections can be quite shallow.
South West Arm Pool Direction Summary (SCREENSHOT or PRINT)
Given the reception at this spot is spotty at best I suggest screenshotting or printing the below summary and the above map to help you on your journey.
The track to South West Arm Pool is not marked so you’ll need to know where to go before heading off. Once you arrive at Winifred Falls there is an overgrown track to the left of the base of the falls. Follow this track downstream keeping the river on your right until you reach South West Arm Pool.
Once there you can walk up the right side of South West Arm Creek to access the rope swing and sandy beaches.
- Park on Warumbul Road near the Winifred Falls Fire Trail entrance
- Walk the Winifred Falls Fire Trail for 1-1.5km to Winifred Falls
- Take the path on the left of the falls down to the base of Winifred Falls
- Find/continue on the overgrown path to the left of the river heading downstream (not marked)
- Follow the river downstream for approximately 500 metres keeping the river on your right
- You’ll then arrive at South West Arm Pool
- Once at the pools walk on the right side of South West Arm Creek to get to the rope swing, sandy beaches and jump rock (not recommended).
Things To Pack For South West Arm Pool
The walk to South West Arm Pool is pretty short and easy. It’s just a 2km walk each way and at a fast pace me and my partner did the walk (one way) in just 30 minutes.
For slower walkers or families with kids I’d allow 45-60 minutes for the walk with some time to stop at both Winifred Falls and South West Arm Pool.
However, it’s important to note there are no toilets or drinking water facilities on this trail. So go to the toilets at Audley or Bungoona Lookout.
South West Arm Pool is AMAZING for swimming and I highly recommend you take a dip. I went in winter and yes the water was fresh and freezing, but we felt amazing after it.
I recommend bringing the following supplies for South West Arm Pool:
- Enough drinking water
- Hiking Boots
- Insect Repellent
I also like to take tweezers in case of ticks (though I’m yet to get one).
Parking for Winifred Falls and South West Arm Pool is pretty easy and there are quite a few parking spots right near the fire rail entrance on Warumbul Road.
There is rear to curb parking available for approximately 7-9 cars but if that’s full there is also parking spots off the sides of the road further up Warumbul Road or further down. While it’s a popular spot I’ve never had trouble parking here.
NOTE: Warumbul Road does get closed and locked at night.
You do need to buy a entry pass for the Royal National Park when going to Winifred Falls. Park Rangers do visit this area and hand out tickets to people who don’t have passes. Find the cheapest passes for the Royal National Park.
I parked front to curb as I didn’t realise it was rear to curb parking. I hope I don’t get a ticket for that as rangers did come through while we were there.
The Start Of The Track Is Very Easy
The beginning of the walk to South West Arm Pool is really easy.
The wide fire trail starts at Warumbul Road and there are clear signs to Winifred Falls.
The fire half of the fire trail to Winifred Falls is very flat and easy to walk along.
There is dense vegetation on both sides so it’s not the most exciting track in the Royal National Park, but there are some nice flowers along the way.
It can get muddy after large amounts of rainfall but it has lightly rained the night before we visited and the path was fine.
Steep Rocky Sections Down To Winifred Falls
About half way through, the fire trail starts to get really steep and there are a lot of loose rocks on the trail making it easy to slip.
I remember doing this walk with my kids and my youngest son (who was 6 at the time) fell over twice on these hilly sections and scraped up his knees.
When I did it this time with my partner she lost her footing a couple of times but didn’t fall. She’s quite a clumsy one so I wasn’t surprised when she nearly fell over, despite my warnings to be careful because it’s easy to slip.
I was more careful and managed not to slip at all.
Getting To The Base Of Winifred Falls
Once you reach the end of the fire trail you want to go down the trail to the left which leads to a lookout over Winifred Falls.
To get to South West Arm Pools you then want to take the trail on your left down to the base of Winifred Falls.
The path down to the base of the falls is quite steep, but personally we found it easier to manage than the loose rocks on the steep sections of the fire trail.
Finding The Path To South West Arm Pool
Once you’re at the base of the falls you’ll want to find the path on the left that leads down the river.
It’s quite overgrown in this section and it can be difficult to find but just start heading downstream keeping the river on your right and you’ll find the track.
There are some rocky sections and it’s not always super clear which part is track, but it’s easy enough to find your way through and eventually a track does appear.
The Little Waterfall Along The Way
You’ll reach a spot where the path crosses a little stream. On your left here is a nice little waterfall that is cute to look at.
We actually missed it on the way to the pool because we were so focused, but saw it on the way back and it’s a nice little scenic spot of the walk.
Within just 10-15 minutes of walking from Winifred Falls you’ll come to South West Arm Pool. It’s the end of the track and is super obvious.
What South West Arm Pool Is Like
South West Arm Pool is a beautiful spot to stop, having a break and some lunch and of course – take a swim.
You can rest and relax on either side of the river with lots of dry places to sit and spread out.
I personally like to cross the river and sit on the south side as this gives you the most sun and the easiest access to the rope swing.
Depending on the rainfall the river might be wide and you’ll need to take your shoes off to cross it or it may be shallow and crossing will be easy.
I remember myself falling in the river when I was helping my kids cross and my daughter lost her footing. I had to step in the river to save her and my shoes were soaked the entire way back.
Swimming At South West Arm Pool
South West Arm Pool is an amazing spot for swimming.
There is a submerged ledge near the river mouth that you can walk on and dive into the pool from there.
The water is deep and is bathed in sunlight throughout the day.
I visited in winter and the water was COLD, but it felt absolutely amazing to swim in.
Getting To The Rope Swing
Danger: It is dangerous to rope swing or cliff jump into unknown waters and comes with the risk of serious injury or death. Do so at your own risk. While I may personally take some of these risks I cannot recommend the behaviour.
There is a rope swing a little bit further up the creek on the south side of the creek.
You can see it as soon as you arrive to the pools.
You can swim there if you want but there is also a track that will take you there.
On the south side of the river take the high track and begin to walk down the creek.
Eventually you’ll reach the rope swing and you’ll need to climb down in order to retrieve the rope.
I’ll be honest, the rope didn’t look in the greatest of conditions but I felt confident enough that it would hold my weight. Be sure to check it as it may have deteriorated further by the time you’re there.
You need a pretty long stick to reach the rope but usually people leave one there for you. If it’s washed away you’ll have to find your own.
The good thing about this rope swing is that you can swing from quite low for a small swing which is great for kids and people less confident. My partner swung from lower down and still got a great swing in. It’s also a lot safer doing this than going from higher up.
Alternatively, if you’re a thrill seeker like me, you can bring the rope right up to the top and swing from quite high up.
This was scary and invigorating and I got quite a lot of speed and height with my swing. If it wasn’t so cold I could spend all day doing this. I’ll have to come back with the kids in summer.
NOTE: The river depth varies with rainfall and tide levels so be careful of the depth of the river. When you swing into the river don’t fall deep into the water and always spread out and stay as shallow as possible to avoid hitting the bottom.
The Jump Rock on South West Arm Creek
A bit further down the track from the rope swing on the other side of the river is a jump rock.
I didn’t know this existed but a bunch of teenagers were there at the time in wetsuits jumping off it.
I don’t know exactly how to get to to top but it seemed like they swam further down the creek (towards Port Hacking) and found a way up that way. It seemed like quite a walk for them to get back to the top of the rock as it took them quite a while between jumps.
I don’t know the depth of the water here and I don’t know whether or not you can be fined for jumping at this location (I know you can at Wattamolla and Audley).
Cliff jumping into unknown waters is incredibly dangerous and not recommended. If you do it then you do so at your own risk.
River Bank Beaches
At low tide if you continue down the creek towards the Port Hacking River you’ll eventually come to river bank beaches where there is quite a lot of sand and the river is fairly shallow in sections.
I explored this way with the kids a couple of years ago and we had a great time on the sand but I didn’t make it this far on my latest trip so unfortunately no photos of this.
Other Waterfalls & Swimming Holes Near South West Arm Pool
While you’re at South West Arm pool why not visit some of the other great waterfalls or lookouts in the area?
Not too far from Winifred Falls in a different direction is a little known waterfall called Anice Falls.
It’s not a marked trail so you’ll need to know where to go and the track passes the top of the falls and as far as I’m aware there is no track to the bottom.
To get to Anice Falls you need to cross the creek above Winifred Falls and follow the trail. It’s quite a steep track and it continues through to Mainbar Road if you want to go that way.
If you’re driving to Winifred Falls and South West Arms Pool then on your way into or out of the Royal National Park I suggest stopping off at Bungoona Lookout.
It’s a super short 500 metre walk on a wheelchair accessible track to one of the best lookouts in the park.
It’s just off the main road (Farnell Ave/Audley Road) so it isn’t much of a detour and it’s well worth it.
There are also disable toilets at this location which make it the perfect little toilet stop before going to South West Arm Pool as there are no toilets there.