- On 18/10/2017 Carss was the name of the family who lived here in the 19th century. My experience in the pool Carss Bush Park near Kogarah is a relaxed place at the weekend, full of families at the public barbies, couples strolling along the shore and kids mucking about on the sands. I've popped by here a few times, looking for the best time... Continue Reading
- On 14/10/2017 Forbes was named after a former Chief Justice of NSW My experience in the pool We didn't expect to get a swim at Forbes Olympic Pool. We just dropped by to take a photo of the fabulous Art Deco pool entrance and noticed the shutters were up. I thought pools in country NSW had a very limited season, with swimming only possible in... Continue Reading
- On 10/10/2017 Parkes was named after the town's founder, who came from Coventry, hence its twinning with that industrial city! My experience in the pool My swim at Parkes Aquatic Centre was a bit of a surprise. I had thought outdoor pools in country Australia were not generally open till November and many of them stay shut if the air temperature isn't forecast to... Continue Reading
- On 02/10/2017 Kyeemagh means 'beautiful dawn' in the local aboriginal language. My experience in the pool Kyeemagh Baths don't get the best write-up of Sydney's swimming enclosures and many I spoke to on Botany Bay say they never go near the place. Certainly, until the day I finally got in the water at Kyeemagh, I had never seen anyone even paddling in the water... Continue Reading
- On 28/09/2017 My experience in the pool The best time to come to Killcare ring of stones rock pool is at high tide on a calm day. Then, locals tell me, it's like being in a swimming pool. I almost made it on both counts, so managed a bit of a splash around on my back, but didn't really get to do a... Continue Reading
- On 20/09/2017 My experience in the pool It was great to be back in the ocean water for my first swim of the new season at Sandringham Baths, which also seem to be called Vanston Baths, judging by the signposts near the pool. This is yet another of those netted enclosures on Botany Bay, but Sandringham is the most southerly (unless you count Kurnell)... Continue Reading
I’m a recent arrival in Australia from the north of England.
Before emigrating at the end of 2014, I embarked on a tour of the UK’s open air swimming pools, most of which are inland, chlorinated pools which are only open in the summer months from May-September. There are a few remaining ocean baths (though we Brits don’t tend to call them that), most notably at the two opposite ends of the country: some in Scotland and some in the far south west of England.
Even at the height of summer, you’re better off wearing a wet suit to swim in those Scottish pools, but it’s the most exhilarating experience to do so, I’m guessing on a par with how Scandinavians feel coming out of the sauna and diving into an icy bath, though I prefer the swimming pool option any day.
I only managed about 25 of those UK pools before my wife and I set off for Australia but loved the variety of pools I found, the sense of community around them, and the local history attached to each pool, whether built in the 19th century, or in the other waves (no pun intended) of swimming enthusiasm in the 1920s and 1960s.
The great thing about living on the NSW coast is that there are over 100 tidal baths, rock pools or ocean baths, and I imagine even in the depths of an Australian winter, the water temperatures will be warmer than what we experienced off the coast at Wick in north east Scotland.
So, I couldn’t resist the challenge of swimming in all those NSW tidal baths and recording both my own experience and that of others I meet along the way.
Since I also write and maintain a regular blog and website on coffee and tea, it’s an easy add-on for this website to include pointers of where to go for a warming coffee or tea after your swim, or a cooling milkshake if it’s really hot outside the pool.
I have a bit of a history of turning this sort of tour into a book, having published A Cathedrals, Coffee and Tea Tour in the UK, and Fancy a Cuppa, North Yorkshire, which found great coffee and tea in every town of the county we moved from when we came to Australia. We’ll see if there’s a book in this tour, too; but for now I’m happy just to do the swimming, the drinking and the writing, hoping it ends up being a resource that others will find as useful as I probably will myself…