Balmoral Baths – Balmoral, NSW 2088

Named after the Royal Estate in Scotland My experience in the pool Apparently Balmoral Beach was my family's favourite when we lived in Sydney's northern suburbs in 1967-8. When I got there on a warm Friday morning in March 2016, I have to confess I had no recollection of the place. A whole bunch of people were doing leisurely freestyle up the beach when I arrived, and I passed the time with a few of them. They seemed more interested in the fact that I now live in Kiama since we had Read more [...]

Watsons Bay Baths – Watsons Bay, NSW 2030

The bay is named after an early 19th century harbour pilot and harbour master My experience in the pool Wow, lap swimming in proper Sydney Harbour water with views of the Harbour Bridge just out on the horizon. What a nice spot, Watsons Bay Baths. This is a great space. It's all very securely shark-netted, it has a 50m laned section, disabled ramp and pontoons to sunbathe on or pause and hold on if you want to catch your brief between laps. On a warm March morning, there was a trickle Read more [...]

Mollymook Bogey Hole – Mollymook, NSW 2539

Possibly named after a type of albatross: the mollymawk My experience in the pool It took several visits to Mollymook Bogey Hole before I actually got in the water. This was partly because I did a reccie of the area after swimming in the ocean pool at nearby Ulladulla some months ago, and had no plan to strip off for a second time that day. But also because if you want to swim at Mollymook Bogey Hole, you have to get the tide right. Don’t bother going at low tide because the water Read more [...]

Palm Beach Rock Pool – Palm Beach, NSW 2108

Named for the cabbage-tree palms which grow around here. My experience in the pool Palm Beach is as far north as you get within Sydney's official boundaries. Palm Beach Rock Pool sits at the southern end of the beach, so you can look back up the curve of the bay towards Barrenjoey Lighthouse and out to sea where the next bit of land becomes the NSW Central Coast. This is multi-millionaire territory, the home of film stars and other celebs, not just from Home & Away, which is set Read more [...]

Helensburgh Memorial Pool – NSW 2508

Probably named after the Scottish birthplace of the local coal mine's manager. My experience in the pool There's something uniquely Australian about local council-run outdoor pools like this that are completely free to enter. Helensburgh Memorial Pool may only be 25m long but who's complaining when it costs nothing to swim here? On a fine, sunny morning in March, with the heatwave going into what must be its sixth successive week, it was no surprise to find a fair few people in the water Read more [...]

Bondi Icebergs – Bondi, NSW 2026

Named after the winter swimming club which began here in 1929. My experience in the pool You need to pick your time well if you want a quiet swim at Bondi Icebergs, with maybe a lane to yourself. According to the manager on duty as I left, the best time for that is between 8am and 9am on Monday or Wednesday. It certainly wasn't quiet on a warm Friday morning in March, with lots of lane swimmers ploughing up and down by 9.15, when I arrived. But it's not just the 50m pool that fills Read more [...]