Please note: As with any natural waterway, please take care. None of these locations are patrolled by surf lifesavers. www.beachsafe.org.au has a list of patrolled beaches
Many of us are familiar with the South Coast's most popular beaches like Hyams, Mollymook, and Tathra but what about lesser-known places to cool off? Whether you prefer splashing in a river or floating in the sea, here's Tim the Yowie Man's top seven secret swimming spots, just in time for the summer holidays.
1. Natural Rock Pool (North Head, Batemans Bay)
Think of Batemans Bay and beaches close to the town centre such as Corrigans and Denhams often spring to mind, however there's a real gem hidden beneath the bay's northern headland. Sure, you have to negotiate the back roads of Murramarang National Park and an adventurous beachcomb to reach it, but once there you won't want to leave.
Expect: To snorkel with fish in a natural rock pool. Who knows, you may even see a mermaid.
Chill factor: The black-coloured rocks really soak up the sun on a hot day, making the water in the pools a couple of degrees warmer than the surrounding ocean.
Tim's Tip: Be sure to check the tide chart before venturing here – the rock pool is best a couple of hours either side of low tide. Oh, and the rocks on the side of the pool can be a bit sharp so slip on your booties or croc shoes while both in and out of the water.
Take me there: North Head, Batemans Bay. It's a 20-kilometre drive from Batemans Bay via North Head Road (dirt) so if you want to stay closer to the beach, book a camp spot at the North Head Campground or the secluded beach house at nearby Yellow Rock.
2. Deserted Beach (Mowarry Beach, south of Eden)
Due to its crescent shape, this stunning bay is pristine and protected from the elements. Surrounded by green foliage and lapped by aquamarine waters, it is also an ideal location to spy on bottle-nosed dolphins. Before being resumed by Ben Boyd National Park, the area immediately behind the beach was farmland and it's now a favourite hang-out for grazing kangaroos.
Expect: To see goanna prints on the sand – a healthy population live among the sand dunes and rockfaces which bookend the beach.
Chill factor: Being one of the South Coast's only true north-facing beach means it catches the sun all day and is protected from the cooler southerly breezes.
Tim's Tip: Explore the southern headland – there are several large middens (piles of shells) here which indicate that the Yuin, the Indigenous peoples of the area, feasted here for thousands of years.
Take me there: Ben Boyd National Park is located south of Eden and has a number of secluded and stunning beaches. Mowarry is for the adventurous as it is accessible by 4WD drive only or by walking part of the 31 km Light to Light walk which traverses the spectacular coastline from Boyd's tower in the north to Green Cape Lightstation in the south.
3. River Waterhole (Shallow Crossing, near Nelligen)
A concrete causeway might at first seem like an odd swimming spot but the waves from passing cars are perfect to ride on your air mattress. Pedal your bike in the water and build rock walls to your heart's content. Local folklore says that it's around this spot where the tidal salt-water from downstream meets the freshwater from upstream.
Expect: This is basically the Cotter River at the coast. It's shallow, rocky but heaps for fun for the whole family.
Chill factor: Depends how fast the river is flowing and how long you wallow in the shallows.
Tim's Tip: After you've worked up a hunger playing classic catches, head to the Clyde River Berry Farm, just a five-minute drive upstream, for one of their irresistible homemade berry ice-creams. Bet you can't just have one.
Take me there: Shallow Crossing is 14 kilometres by gravel road from the Princes Highway. Warning: This river crossing can be impassable due to heavy rain and at high tide (note up to three-hour lag in tide times with Batemans Bay).
4. Lagoon (Moona Moona Creek, near Huskisson)
Tucked away just south of Huskisson, the entrance of Moona Moona Creek, which leads out into the ocean, is a popular summer watering hole. Stay with the littlies as they play with bucket and spade in the South Coast's biggest natural sand pit (at low tide, anyway) while you keep an eye on the teenagers leaping off the jetty.
Expect: To stay here all day – it'll be near on impossible to drag the kids away from this natural playground.
Chill factor: Adjacent to the lagoon is a park with shady trees, picnic and barbecue facilities and amenities.
Tim's Tip: Bring your snorkel and mask – it's the perfect place to learn.
Take me there: Located off Burrill Street, mid-way between Huskisson and Vincentia.
5. Ocean Pool (Bermagui Blue Pools)
Tucked away at the bottom of 88 steps and hacked into a rugged rocky coastline, there are no lines to mark the pool lanes here so jump in and go for it.
Expect: To share the briny with a myriad of critters including starfish, crabs and fish.
Chill factor: Early mornings is popular with regulars, some who brave it all year round but once the sun is overhead, snorkellers flock to the pool for the opportunity to eyeball the marine life and families frolic in the shallower kids' wading pool which is adjacent.
Tim's Tip: Be careful with your tumble-turn at the northern end of the pool which narrows into a small cleft in the rocks allowing only room for one swimmer at a time.
Take me there: Bermagui is a three-hour drive via either Cooma (Brown Mountain) or Braidwood (Clyde Mountain). The Blue Pool is located off Scenic Drive at the base of a dramatic cliff face.
6. Lovely Lake (Lake Conjola Entrance, between Sussex Inlet and Mollymook)
You'll have to dodge local teenagers jumping off the jetty, swinging on a rope or attempting to balance on a paddleboard, so why not join them? The more energetic can even swim all the way across to the national park.
Expect: Lots of families with young kids enjoying the water.
Chill factor: On a hot day the shallow waters can heat up so even the biggest chicken in your family can still jump in.
Tim's Tip: Watch out for swimming kangaroos sometimes spotted in the entrance to the lake
Take me there: 20km north of Ulladulla via the Princes Highway and Lake Conjola Entrance Road.
7. Hidden Waterfall (Carrington Falls, near Kangaroo Valley)
Cascading 50 metres into upper Kangaroo Valley, although not as high as better-known Fitzroy Falls, the remote location of these falls adds to their natural appeal. There's plenty of parking here and a 30-minute loop (easy) walking track to a series of lookouts. Just where the track turns back near the top of the falls is a natural rock pool. It's not signposted but it's popular with locals so it must be good.
Expect: A chain of waterholes surrounding by a natural amphitheatre of lush vegetation.
Chill factor: Save this one for a summer scorcher for the water is often very cold due to the lack of direct sunlight.
Tim's Tip: Take your deckchair and relax or slip on the togs for a refreshing dip. Don't go too close to the edge and stay clear of the water after or during rain – this is the top of a waterfall after all. Oh, and don't forget to check out nearby Belmore Falls, the mist alone from the 100-metre drop falls will be enough to cool you off without having to look for the secret path to their base.
Take me there: Carrington Falls is about 15 kilometres from the Southern Highland's village of Robertson via Jamberoo Mountain Road