While the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are Sydney’s big draw cards, the city is also home to a lesser-known gem: an extraordinary collection of ocean pools. These man-made public seawater pools are situated on a surf coast, so the waves can wash over them, and they are free for swimmers to use.
The history of these iconic swimming spots is a tale of struggle, sacrifice and innovation. They are not only the cradle of Australia’s modern pool culture but they are also places full of individual memories and social significance. The exhibition The Pool at the NGV, with its accompanying book, very successfully evokes this connection in a way that reaches beyond the prosaic outdoor pools surrounded by grass and concrete found in many suburbs.
Ocean pools were created to provide safe swimming for people when the beaches were dangerous due to southerly winds and rough seas. They are usually located at the southern end of a beach and have changing rooms, showers and toilets. Serene at low tide and choppy at high, they are the original infinity pools.
This is a wonderful feature for families and friends, especially when the weather is not conducive to heading out into the ocean. It is designed to be multi-generational and can also be used for therapy or strength training. With all these features, it is a great way to stay active during the cooler months of the year in Sydney.
If you are looking to install a pool in your backyard, make sure to hire a qualified and experienced pool builder. Ask for a detailed quote before work starts and check whether the contractor has insurance cover for building projects. This should include the entire construction period and any warranty periods that may apply.
In the early 1800s, Australia’s first official competition swimming events took place in what was then known as the Gentlemen’s Baths at Fig Tree Bay in Sydney. Two events were held, an open event over 402 metres (440 yards) and a 91-metre (100-yard) race for juveniles.
Located at Dee Why Head, the North Curl Curl rockpool is another fantastic ocean swimming spot on Sydney’s northern beaches. This tidal rockpool is small in size but large in character, with a natural wall to the rock face, central outcrop islands and plenty of surrounding crevices for exploring ocean wildlife.
The pool was named after local resident Wally Weekes and commissioned in 1929. It was the first ocean pool north of Sydney Harbour and is now adorned with two ceramic sculptures. The small triangular pool is a favourite of swimmers, but it can be hard to reach at high tide and is best accessed via the coastal walk. Getting there is definitely worth it, however, with stunning views and spectacular snorkelling. During the hotter months, the pool can be heated to keep swimmers comfortable. Solar heating is the most popular type of heating because it is inexpensive, environmentally friendly and efficient.