We’re always on the elusive hunt for incredible, off grid camp sites, and despite having a fairly well laid out plan for 3 weeks in the Pilbara, when we stumbled across a new option called Bobswim, we put it on the list.
Some of you might know this as Magic Pool, and I’d be the large majority of people wouldn’t even know about it at all. Essentially it’s a hidden oasis in the heart of the Pilbara, and requires a 4WD and a bit of skill and gear to get there.
As I write this, Sarah’s sitting in the shade with our big zoom lens camera taking a photo of a whistling kite, the red cliffs reflect off the water and my youngest son is dragging the a dead tree branch towards the water that is probably about 5 times his size. We’re the only ones here, and to be honest I’m not that surprised.
Where is Magic Pool?
You’ll find this place in between Tom Price and Paraburdoo, just inside the Karijini National Park, and not too far from a railway line.
Directions to Magic Pool
If you have a good mapping app, a sense of adventure and you look around, you’ll find this place fairly easily. We actually found rough directions online, so I’ll give them to you, but it is shown on the Exploroz app and that took us most of the way in, except for the last bit that heads off the track shown and goes straight towards Bobswim.
There’s a heap of other tracks around the place that probably take you to other amazing spots, and the actual pool is quite long, with a huge number of places to pull in.
Essentially, you take a well maintained gravel road south east off the road between Tom Price and Paraburdoo, about 34 kilometres from Paraburdoo. You’ll know that you are on the right road if you drive past a sign that points towards Mallee Station.
This road eventually crosses a railway line, which has some very confusing signs about restricted access to authorised vehicles only. Turn right, and head along here for about 7 – 8 kilometres until you see a track on your left.
Follow this all the way to Bobswim on your mapping app, and you’ll find a heap of places along various pools to pull into. We did ask at the Tom Price visitor centre, but they were very cagey about giving directions citing its hard to get to, and easy to get stuck out there.
What are the track condition like?
The track into Bobswim starts off as a well maintained gravel road, and eventually deteriorates. Most of the bigger ‘obstacles’ have new tracks made around them, but there are a couple of decent step ups, and one really steep descent and incline that had huge offset holes.
The angle change at the bottom had me very cautious of our drawbar bottoming out, and I didn’t pay enough attention to the exit angle of our camper trailer, and we just clipped the back corner which snapped the stabilizer leg handle on the bottom, which I was disappointed about.
I’ve not really pushed the limits of our Reconn R2 before, and it was a learning curve for me, and I’ll certainly be more careful in the future. No real damage done, as it all works and it was bound to happen at some stage, but you live and learn!
We towed our Hybrid Camper all the way in with only a couple of concerning moments, but you will get some new scratches. It’s not hugely tight, and its mostly just soft trees, but if you have anything wider than 1.8 metres and longer than 6 metres in total length you are going to cop it far worse.
The views on the way in are absolutely amazing, and some of the best that we saw in the Pilbara. Of course, it helps that we visited only a couple of weeks after a big storm that was very unseasonal.
On the way out, I actually unbolted both rear stabiliser legs in preparation for them potentially getting whacked again, and had to pick a line very carefully up the steep descent and ascent and took it quite gently the first time, making it most of the way up only to have all four wheels spinning and digging holes. I backed down again and gave it a bit more herbs, and made it up with no issues.
We did find later on that the carabiner that holds the breakaway cable in place took a fair hit and was bent, but it straightened easily enough and was very minor damage in the scheme of things.
Ironically, we also found a chicken track that we completely missed on the way in, which would have been significantly easier but it was very overgrown and would have meant quite a few extra scratches on, so I took the challenge of the hill climb instead.
Ultimately, this place is suitable for 4WD’s with a bit of clearance, and small trailers at most. Caravans and large hybrids are not suitable.
A perfect little oasis
In my mind, I was expecting something that would blow us away, with no one there and perfection for the kids. I don’t know what it was, but we both felt a bit deflated when we arrived.
It was the middle of the day, with high temperatures, limited shade and the water colour didn’t look that inviting. However, that soon changed as we spent an incredible afternoon relaxing in the water, watching birds and enjoying the stunning scenery.
Having come from Tiger Eye Pool and many other amazing places, we’ve been thoroughly spoilt and I’m sure one becomes jaded after too much of a good thing. We also happened to pull in at the worst time of the day, with the sun right overhead, and it being quite warm with a breeze upsetting the water.
There’s a heap of places you can camp, right in the ‘river bed’ or up nearer the banks. We chose a spot where it was mostly sandy and had good water access for the kids to play without it getting too deep too fast, and just chilled for hours. We love being away from the hoards of others, and places like this make it possible.
After staying 2 nights, we completely fell in love with this place. The sunsets against the red cliffs, mirror finish on the water and spectacular scenery make it one of the most amazing places we’ve ever been to, and I feel guilty for ever second guessing myself when we pulled in.
We watched a heap of birds during our stay, including a resident whistling kite that would often circle our camp and sit on a tree branch not too far away.
We did detach the car the next day and go for a drive around to see what else we could find, and saw a number of other pools. Some of the tracks are well used, and others make you feel like you are the first person to drive them in many months (which could be true!).
We spent two awesome nights there and left the place pristine in a way that you’d never know we were there, and am sure people will continue to do this for many years to come.
My favourite spot
Over our entire Pilbara trip, Magic Pool takes the cake for my favourite spot. Sarah rated Glen Herring which was also nice, but Magic Pool really did it for me. I find it ironic, as I wasn’t that blown away when we first arrived, but there you go!