On McCarrs Creek, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, NSW, Australia

The Duck Holes is a series of super child-friendly swimming holes in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. They are right near a road but surrounded by bush so that there is a definite taste of nature as well as making this spot very easily-accessible. One of the pools is deeper, has a couple of rope swings and is surrounded on all sides by sandy beaches. The others are shallower, making them easy for younger children to use. There are even some very small ones which would be perfect for giving babies their first taste of wild swimming! The car park can fill up at weekends as it is a popular spot for road cyclists to begin the ride up to West Head.

How To Get There: From Terrey Hills or Church Point drive along McCarrs Creek Road towards Wect Head. Turn off onto West Head Road and you will see the parking area on the right well before the ranger’s hut. Depending on which swimming hole you choose it is either a flat, sandy 75m walk from the parking to the swimming hole or a very short walk down some stone steps. The water is visible from the car park.

Difficulty of access: 3/10 – The spot is easy to find off of a fairly major road and has flat but sandy access to the water.

Opening Times/Seasons: West Head is open during daylight hours all year. For exact opening times check here.

Entrance Fee: There is a fee to get onto West Head; check here for current fees. Yearly passes are also available.

Facilities Nearby: There are a couple of picnic tables and a nice flat grassy area near the car park. The closest toilets are at the cafe at Church Point and there are more at the lookout at the end of West Head.

Other Activities: You can catch the ferry to Palm Beach from Church Point which is around 5km away. There are many amazing trails to walk in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park giving access to secluded beaches and historical aboriginal sites.

Other Places of Interest Nearby: The lookout at West Head gives spectacular views of the Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River. Kayaks can be hired at Church Point or Cottage Point and from here you can explore the Hawkesbury River .

Wildlife: You are in the bush and inside the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park so there is likely to be a wide variety of plant life around and this area is popular with bird watchers but shyer animals may be discouraged by the road.

Places to Eat: There is an incredible restaurant at Cottage Point for those not on a strict budget as well as cafes at Church Point and the Boat House at Palm beach which is great for lunch and offers opportunities for an ocean dip in the sheltered waters there.

Where to Camp: The Basin Campground is the only place you can camp in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It is accessed by ferry from Palm Beach wharf by boat, ferry or water-taxi, or by walking in from West Head. More info can be found here.

Other places to Stay: Being so close to Sydney and the popular-with-tourists Northern Beaches there is a huge amount of accommodation available in the area from hotels to B&Bs to private house rentals.

Nearby Towns: Sydney, Palm Beach, Terrey Hills,  Northern Beaches, Sydney North Shore.

Other Swimming Spots Nearby: Upper Gledhill Falls, Lovett Bay Pool

Location Map

Have you swum at this spot?

We all want to hear about it. Leave a comment below.


  1. Angus whitehouse

    The Duck holes! That’s so funny it’s the Duck Ponds has been since white man came and always will be. Grew up there used to ride up there from 5yrs old in the 197o’s still take the kids there only ever been investigated when there was people not in our group swimming. There fantastic. And if your lucky you may find a local happy to show you the hidden pools but you’d be lucky.

  2. Sue

    Love this place, so close to the city, and great for little kids. Awesome sitting at the top of the waterfall hearing the rush. Would love to know how to get down to the pool at the bottom. Following the track along the left bank, there’s a steep drop, which I could probably jump down, but being 5’1″, don’t think I could climb back up. Does it lead to the bottom pool? If so – I will bring a rope next time!

    • Rachel Lewis

      Hi Sue, wondering if you’re talking about Upper Gledhill Falls, rather than the Duck Holes? See our entry for that spot. At Upper Gledhill there is a track which leads down to the lower pool and it is a bit of a scramble so it’s probably the one you’re talking about. I managed it and I only have an inch on you :) but I like your idea of bringing a rope to make things easier. Definitely worth the scramble for a cool dip on a hot day.

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