The Never Never River and The Promise Land swimming hole are objectively stunning.
But in recent days, a dangerous bug found briefly under its clear waters brought to light a new problem facing the region.
Authorities say the NSW Mid North Coast waterway, which is not actively promoted as a visitor attraction, is “loved to death”.
“Recreational water bodies can sometimes be unsuitable for swimming, especially after rainfall when stormwater, sewage and farm runoff can overflow,” Mayor Stephen Allan said.
“Increased human, pet and traffic attendance at Never Never Creek during the festive season is likely the cause of these poor quality samples.
“The result of additional sampling conducted this week suggests it was an isolated issue. The water quality has recovered but it is a good reminder of the fragility of the area that we all must consider as we enjoy the area’s beauty.”
Tests in the area had found high levels of enterococci bacteria, suggesting fecal contamination may have occurred.
Bellinger Shire Council warned that swimming water with high levels of enterococci can lead to illnesses including stomach, ear and skin rashes.
Lucy Menzies, the council’s sustainable environment and waste manager, told the ABC the council is aware of visitors going to the toilet on the banks.
“It was very popular during the holiday season and there is certainly evidence that people used the riparian area there along the banks for toilet purposes, which is quite unfortunate,” she said.
“That could also be [more] Dogs are also brought into the area.”
Locals were keen to give their two cents for a solution when news broke of the poor water quality caused by feces.
“A simple, affordable ticketing system that regulates numbers to a sustainable level is all that is required,” suggested one local.
“Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos — unless you can go somewhere natural and abide by these rules, stay in the city,” said another.
Others were quick to blame the influencers.
“This is what happens when damn Instagram and TikTok influencers start flogging these posts on their social networks. All the thugs from Sydney rush there to get their own narcissistic 5 minutes of fame and ruin it,” they lamented.
“This is what social media and the ‘influencers’ are doing to the once secret spots… and it’s only getting worse,” said another.
In fact, the waterway has gone viral on TikTok, with a number of accounts sharing the waterway with the world – including one calling it “Australia’s best kept secret”.
Water quality has recently recovered as the council removed a warning against swimming, but Mr Allan fears it could happen again.
He said ABC options were running out as the council considered following in the footsteps of MidCoast Council, which recently had to ask the tourist to stay away from the coastal destination of Seal Rocks.
“It’s something we definitely need to consider,” he said.
“It would be a shame if we had to regulate, but it’s a pristine environment that needs to be protected, but we have to balance that against the fact that it’s public land and people have a right to visit it. “
Never Never River and The Promised Land in Tuckers Nob State Forest are managed by the Forestry Corporation of NSW who claim to have taken steps to mitigate the impact of informal recreation.
Join the conversation – firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally posted as TikTok famous swimming hole, it became ‘s***’