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 to get a swim in the shark-netted enclosure, and never ever seen anyone swimming.
This warm and busy day was no different. There were a couple of small kids splashing in the shallows, and they seemed to have no trouble with the temperature, but still nobody was actually in the water swimming.
We’d missed high tide by a couple of hours so the water was barely deep enough to get in above my waist. Carss Point Baths are definitely best at high tide, and the sloping beach sees the tide wash out fairly quickly afterwards, with little depth really right up to the shark net.
There are a number of plausible reasons why people might not swim here much these days: it tends to get some of the worst pollution reports in the annual survey of Sydney’s waters, and there was a fair bit of debris in the water when I finally got in (mostly plant life rather than anything more noxious, from what I could see); the oyster shells that line the walls can’t help either and they seem to stick up on the flat floor of the area that must once have been the 50m pool area. Then there’s the shallow water for much of the day.
Another reason could be the signpost put up by the local council to point out the dangers at Carss Point Baths. The images there highlight the jellyfish, the submerged objects, the deep water (!), but also the sharks. Now, hold on, I thought that net out there in the bay was supposed to keep out the sharks. Glad I didn’t stay in too long, and no wonder nobody swims in these ‘baths’…
I did take the plunge but didn’t stay. Sometimes (fortunately really not often on this Pool quest), this feels like a bit of a chore and the water did not draw me in. The water was certainly warm, but actually I almost prefer a bit more of a chill and flow-through to the water. I was, literally, going through the motions at Carss Point Baths, and I won’t count this as a pool I’ll rush to come back to.
The place clearly has history, though. The Life Saving Club building (note no ‘surf’ here) showed there was once a need for such a club, and my look through the Trove website gave me a hint that Carss Park was a place people would come to for a floodlit dip after work, with a pontoon to play around on as well as the 50m pool (the stone walls marking the ends of the 50m remain but no lane markers anymore, and that area has the most oyster shells).
It’s a lovely spot, but you can kind of see why Dick Caine set up his outdoor swimming pool to train his squads on the headland not far from the swimming enclosure. That pool has also seen better days, but it does give the lover of outdoor swimming two choices – especially if you visit on the wrong tide – at Carss Park.
Getting there, getting in, getting changed
I didn’t see any public transport down to Carss Bush Park, though there may be the occasional bus that drops nearby. There is limited parking by the park and by the swimming centre too, but if that is full, there is lots of street parking not too far away.
You are forced these days to get into the water via the sandy beach. The old steps into the water – at the deeper end too – are all blocked off now by a fence that surrounds the netted enclosure on both sides and in the corners.
There is one of those stand-up outside showers on the parkland near the baths (see photo for position). Strangely, there are no showers in the toilets available back near the kiosk about 100m across the park. And the toilets have a big changing shed attached, but nowhere to wash off the salt – or other debris you may have picked up…
Best at high tide. In fact, I’d go so far as to say not much point in trying to swim at Carss Point Baths unless it’s pretty close to high tide.
History and stories about the pool
It was hard to find much out about the baths at Carss Point. A couple of press clippings on the Trove website caught my eye, thouugh.
A 1924 report on the local council meeting where it was decided to construct the baths at Carss Point talked of objections at the time, complaining that the wooden piles and shark net would ‘spoil the bay and prevent boats landing’. Ah the NIMBIEs were vocal even in 1924…
One correspondent to the St George Call in Feb 1946 said he loved the floodlighting at the pool (!), and in ten years swimming at Carss Park pool: “I have never seen one objectionable occurrence at this park, which speaks well for the behaviour of the youth of the district”. Ah, those were the days. I guess the Life Saving Club was active life saving in those days, too.
What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in days gone by?
Whatever you have to say, however brief, I’d love to hear from you and will add any stories to this section of the site as and when I receive them. Add your comment or story under ‘Leave a Reply’ below.
Links to other articles on this pool
The Lazy Swimmer blogger came to Carss Point Baths in 2009.
I don’t normally add links to Pinterest pages, but there are some nice pics of Carss Point Baths here.
The October 2017 poor water quality report got its usual negative press coverage, and Carss Point Baths came in the top group again.
Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?
There is coffee in the restaurant in the park by the baths, but it’s nothing to write home about, so I’d head back towards the main road and check out the super-friendly…
Kizmet Café – 11 Carwar Street, Carss Park, NSW 2221
Open Monday – Saturday 7am – 4pm;
Kizmet Café reviewed by the Fancy a Cuppa website
You can have a genuine Turkish coffee here and know it will be made in the Turkish way because one of the owners is Turkish. I enjoyed a chat with her about our favourite spots in Turkey from our journey through the country three years ago, but I opted for the Aussie style flat white – somehow Turkish coffee has to be drunk in Turkey, doesn’t it?
Roasted by Numero Uno coffee, this was a decent enough brew for me to order a second and the barista knew all about the origin and roast: Papua New Guinea, so that is a good sign I think.
Really friendly neighbourhood café, though. Virtually every other customer who walked past me while I sat and watched the world go round said hello. Not often you find that in Sydney coffee shops.
And they do my favourite fig and date bars made by Luxe bakeries in Newtown. Boy they are good cakes, and perfect for that post swim coffee energy boost.
7 thoughts on “Carss Point Baths – Carss Park, NSW 2221”
From 1956 to 1966 I was chief instructor for the NSW learn to swim association at Carss Park tidal pool . the Olympic size pool, built on the other side of the headland did not exist at that time, and neither did Dick Caine. during my time as Chief Instructor, I trained volunteers to become instructors, and by 1966 we had 465 children enrolled, and 12 instructors teaching on a Sunday morning. Our aim was to teach children how to swim, float…to save themselves if ever they needed to…there was no specific strokes taught, and when they could swim 25 metres, children were presented with a certificate. during those years the water quality was a higher standard, nobody spoke of pollution nor the oyster problem…also it was never called Carss Point, was always Carss Park. Yes, there was a life saving club, very popular, and during the 60’s several of the young men underwent some sort of medical experiment, in hospital, where their heart was stopped and restarted, all for progress in swimming incidents (made news in the local paper, at the time). This may be interesting to you, if so please don’t hesitate to contact me via email. Regards, Joan Scott (née Judd).
What a fantastic programme you ran, Joan – I’d love to hear more about it; have you got old certificates still? or photos from those days?
Amazing commitment from the guys who let themselves go forward for the medical experiment: things really were more community and social focused in those days, weren’t they?
Hi . I was one of the four Carss Park Lifesaving club members who volunteered for clinical /medical tests with eight other royal life Saving society members to prove the advantages of the now currant method of resuscitation . After health checks and under medical supervision at one of Sydney’s Hospital, were administered South African poison “Curare” and using the different methods of known resuscitation was revived
All volunteers were awarded the British Empire Medal for their services after volunteering when Prisoners in gaol refused even after being offered a pardon as I believe it.
Curare slowed heart to almost zero and also effects breathing etc, I am not sure of medical effects.
Back in those days before the Olympic pool Carss Park baths was a popular and busy swimming and picnic area with life savers personsl on duty most weekends and holidays also participating in Royal Lifesaving duties and events
Thanks Kenneth. Great to have your input to the story of Carss Park baths. Wonderful story too
My grandparents,Lena and Ted Standen built their home at 65 Carwar Ave, that was the eighth home to be built in the park. My mother Frances and two younger brothers Cyril and Brendan (George) we’re brought up there. My mother Frances, and my father Ron Armstrong met at Carss Park Life Saving Club, mum’s brothers Cyril and George introduced them.
Mum and Dad married and built our family home at 7 Borgah Street, Carss Park where I, together with my two younger sisters, Pauline and Sharon were brought up. Dad was a member of the Club from his late teens till his very late 60s, when the club closed due to lack of membership. Dad’s name is recorded on the Club Championship board (which was still on display in the club in 2001, last time I was there) in the 1940s/50s and my name is recorded there in the 1960s. My mother was the first, and only Female member to my knowledge, to be awarded Life Membership to the Club, her name together with Dad’s name was recorded on the Honour Roll which was also still displayed on the club wall in 2001. I was a member of the Club during my teenage years up until I married in 1969 I held the position of Club Captain at the time of my resignation.
The Club was affiliated with the Royal Life Saving Society. ( not the Surf Life Saving Society) The club held annual inter Club Carnivals competing with clubs from Brighton, Ramsgate, Woronora, and Manly Pool.
I clearly remember Mr Wal Hodgkinson our Park Ranger who kept the park and tidal pool area in immaculate condition. Wal and his wife and son, young Wally, lived in Carss Cottage for many years before being relocated to their new residence above the Ambulance Station.
I also remember during my teenage years the ‘Speedie’ family ran the Kiosk, and the Shower and Change rooms, which were attached to the Kiosk and were free.
Thanks for that fantastic piece of Carss Park Baths history, Ron. The annual swim carnivals must have been a sight to see
I swam in the pool many times in the 1950’s and one time only just last year.
I swam two loops around the outside of the four white posts standing in the pool. According to my stopwatch each loop around must be 400m or very very close to that.