A BEAUTIFUL sight, yes, but not the place to take a swim, repeats the newest tests results from the water at the old Bexhill quarry.

The cobalt blue water and cliff face makes the swimming hole at the former Bexhill Brickworks look very appealing, which is probably why people regularly ignore the 'no swimming' sign - and pull away the fence to gain access.

Chemical analysis of the water by Southern Cross University revealed swimmers are putting themselves at peril, manager of SCU-based Environmental Analysis Laboratory, Graham Lancaster said.

In 2002 tests revealed the water's pH level was almost as acidic as vinegar , with aluminium levels 2500 times greater than the Australian guidelines.

Then in 2010 tests revealed the levels had dropped from the previous results, but were still very high - the water then recorded a pH level of 3.98, well below National Health and Medical Research Council recreational guidelines of between 6.5 and 8.5, meaning it was highly acidic.

Tests undertaken by Mr Lancaster yesterday found that the pH levels had experienced a "marginal improvement" to 3.83, and the aluminium levels had also decreased from 12.453mg per litre to 1.052mg per litre since 2002.

However that's still considerably higher than the Australian standard of 0.200mg of aluminium per litre.

"Generally water quality is still improving with the water significantly lower in metals, fairly similar pH and half the salt content of the 2010 sample," Mr Lancaster said.

"Basically, the fresh water is diluting the metals and salts, but the pH is not changing much - The water is still acidic and below the safe guidelines for recreation."

Closed around 2002, the former brickworks is easily accessible from Bangalow Rd, and the dramatic cliff wall is a popular jumping off spot for locals, despite the pit containing jagged metal left over from the old quarrying and brick making operation. 

Now Crown land, the NSW Department of Lands and Lismore City Council have always warned locals against swimming in the waterhole, but that doesn't stop everyone.


We asked Facebook Readers: Have you ever been swimming at the Bexhill waterhole? Does the health history of the water bother you?

■ "I used to go there all the time when I was like 15, as soon as I found out about it I never went back. Scary to think of how many kids and toddlers I saw in there."

■ "I have only swum there once when I was very little, but it is so tempting! The colour draws you in."

■ "I've been swimming in there for years; I even sliced my feet open there once. I didn't even get an infection. Just don't drink it or have your head under the water for long periods. Yes it is full of heavy metals, but what does metal do in water - it sinks."

■ "Yeah (I've) been swimming there, then was told by an old lady that she took her dogs there for a swim with her as well and the dogs died that night . After that story I haven't gone back."

■ "I knew, and have told people about it for a while now whenever they say that they're going for a swim there. It (the health history) 150% bothers me, and I have never gone swimming there."

■ "I live just up the road from the quarry and we laugh and shake our heads at the people who swim in there, or even walk around barefoot there (broken glass and metal everywhere)."

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