Jo Lennan

Writer and Journalist

After a time, you can get complacent in any place. You think you know somewhere like the back of your hand or the face of a loved one.

In fact we may know little of a city’s surrounds, the hidden places we fly over in our haste to be somewhere else, or zoom past on the highway at 120 clicks.

After 15 years of living (on and off) in Sydney, I thought I knew its coast and bushlands pretty well – especially its swimming spots. Then I bought Wild Swimming, co-authored by Sally Tertini and Steve Pollard. It’s a guide to 250 of the best rock pools, beaches, river and waterholes in the city.

Most of these spots lie at the end of a walk, which can be anything from a short stroll to a punishing hike. Hiking guides are nothing new – and they often mention waterholes – but there is something infinitely better about a photograph-studded guide to flick through when deciding on your next adventure.

Most of the spots in Wild Swimming lie at the end of a walk, which can be anything from a short stroll to a punishing hike.

I had a hidden agenda in buying this book: I was hoping to sell my partner on hiking. He really, really hates it. But he really, really loves swimming – especially if there’s a chance we’ll have the spot to ourselves.

This book did the trick. Among other walks, it has taken us to a waterhole where tiny fish nibbled at our toes, Thai spa-style. Where? friends asked. Never heard of it. There’s a national park there? 

Two years on, our dog-eared copy is about to fall apart. (There’s now also a Wild Swimming Australia website that covers the rest of NSW and other states.) In our travels, we’ve come to know other places that are not in the pages of Wild Swimming – but as for where these are, my lips are sealed.