Popran National Park, nr Gosford, Central Coast NSW
As with all solid Aussie place names, this one tells it like it is as the water of this pool is often a stunning crystal green colour with amazing visibility. The smallish pool is lined with ferns and partially shaded by majestic eucalypts, so it’s the ideal place for a casual swim and also to have a picnic on the flat rocks downstream and the walk in means that this is a peaceful, often empty spot. There is a gorgeous cascade leading to the pool which falls on to a sandy bottom at the far end. The water quality is further confirmed by the presence of loads of small yabbies. During Spring there are magnificent displays of wildflowers all around the pools.
How To Get There: From Sydney take the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway and exit at Calga onto Peats Ridge Road. After 13km turn left into Wisemans Ferry Road. After a further 8km turn left into Ironbark Road. From Newcastle take the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway and exit at Peats Ridge Road. After 10km turn right into George Downs Drive and turn left into Wisemans Ferry Road. After a further 8km turn left into Ironbark Road and park at the small car park at the Ironbark Picnic Area before the locked gate. Passing through the locked gate follow the Hominy Creek Track into the Emerald Pools Loop.
It’s about a 7km round trip (not the 2km each way advertised elsewhere) which takes around 2 hours to complete.
Difficulty of access: 5/10 Potentially accessible by 2WD although there is a stretch of unpaved road and one very steep section. The path down is easy to find and there is only one steeper section coming up from the swimming hole.
Opening Times/Seasons: All day/All Year
Entrance Fee: None
Facilities Nearby: Iron Bark Picnic area, at the beginning of the trail, has toilets. You’ll need to bring drinking water as Ironbark picnic area only has tank water for washing hands.
Other Activities: Explore the southern section of the park by boat, canoe or kayak. There are many lookouts on the other walks in the park.
Other Places of Interest Nearby: Glenworth Valley is an excellent family campsite in the bush where you can camp, kayak, abseil, mountain bike, horse ride, quad bike etc.
Mount Olive Lookout is on the trail to the Emerald Pools.
Wildlife: It’s the perfect habitat for the green and golden bell frog, also the red-crowned toadlet. During the Spring Popran is renowned for the wildflower displays.
Places to Eat: Try Jerry’s Gourmet Kitchen & Cafe in Kulnura or The Old Road Cafe in Mount White.
Where to Camp: Glenworth Valley offers the easiest and most comfortable camping option with good but subtle facilities and a small creek for the kids to paddle in as well as heaps of other activities.
For the more adventurous there is free walk, sail or paddle-in camping at Gentlemans Halt Campground on the Hawkesbury River, and another free, walk-in site at Ten Mile Hollow Campground.
Nearby Towns: Somersby, Gosford, Terrigal
Other Swimming Holes Nearby: Somersby Falls, Kariong Brook Falls
Comments: A stunning spot, and a much quieter place to swim than the nearby coast.
Huge thanks to Thomas Hodgson for adding to this info.
A very nice spot – some Aboriginal axe grinding grooves and engravings below Emerald Pool. Suggest you do this as a loop, rather than out-and-back along the same track! https://hikingtheworld.blog/2021/01/06/emerald-pool-popran-national-park/