Sydney is well known for its opera house and bridge, but its coastline also hosts one of the largest collections of ocean pools worldwide. Spanning natural rock pools, old-school baths and spectacular landmarks dotted along its coast is home to over 80 water bodies perfect for morning dips or sunset strolls – but where did all these waters come from? Gary Nunn investigates their origins to gain more insight into this unique pool culture.
Swimming pools in Australia may often go under-appreciated, yet their history is rich. From the practical outdoor pools surrounded by grass and concrete found throughout many suburbs such as Granville to architecturally significant North Sydney Olympic Pool completed in 1936 – Australia has long possessed public pools. From mundane outdoor pools surrounded by grass and concrete in suburban Granville to architecturally notable North Sydney Olympic Pool completed in 1936, its rich legacy spans across decades and public pools have long been an icon of public life here – iconic examples including Fig Tree Baths (which still remain) to architecturally significant North Sydney Olympic Pool completed in 1936 – many iconic public pools exist across its history – iconic iconic like Mrs Biggs’ women’s baths from 1850 which hosted Australia’s inaugural competitive swimming events; functional examples such as Beaurepaire Pool at University of Melbourne campus designed by Eggleston Macdonald Seacomb in 1957 designed by Eggleston Macdonald Seacomb is an example of modernist design which marries function with aesthetics!
One thing that stands out about these Australian examples is their deep ties to the community and ability to capture its spirit. People gather here for exercise and socialising while reaping vital health benefits; moreover, this environment also acts as an embodiment and embodiment point for social values such as equality, diversity and mateship – evidenced in public pool clubs that provide accessible facilities at reasonable costs for people of all ages.
North Sydney Olympic Pool’s $64 million renovation has been highly controversial, from cost overruns and design disputes to heritage concerns and cost overruns. But even with all of these difficulties, its community still supports it: Chris Bowden, 39, hails the pool for its old school charm: ‘I love its shabbiness and old school appeal; being able to still roll out my towel or pick up hot chips from its kiosk is even better.”
This project will bring together a range of expertise to create a new multigenerational aquatic centre with an emphasis on water play, featuring an innovative lazy river design which accommodates inner tubes for water-based recreational activities such as rehabilitation or strength training or simply for fun – helping achieve healthy lifestyle goals among City residents of all ages and capabilities. This inaugural facility in Sydney will serve as a model for similar centres throughout Australia.