Pool Reviews

Coalcliff Rock Pool – NSW 2508

Coalcliff Rock Pool
Coalcliff Rock Pool

Home of the Illawarra Coke Company since 1914.

My experience in the rock pool

I was there on a bright, breezy day in May. The ocean was a beautiful deep blue and the pool itself an inviting sky blue with a touch of turquoise – whoever took the decision to paint the floor of this pool blue made the right call in my view. The air temperature was barely 20C and the water starting to feel chilly enough to have me gasping as I put my head down to swim, but so so refreshing, even for five or ten minutes.

This is an absolutely delightful pool. There was a bit of sea weed on the floor of the pool at about the halfway mark as I swam northwards, but I barely noticed it.

The breeze was strong enough (coming off the cliff face) to give me a shower from my own leg kicks as I swam with the wind behind me.

This pool goes straight to the top of my list for a revisit, maybe on a warmer day, maybe at high tide to see how the incoming swell affects things, and to see how easy it is to access the pool when the tide is in.

I was totally alone in the pool that morning. And apart from two houses overlooking (just around the cliff) it’s a very private pool, not visible from the road or the railway.

Great views up the coast to the Royal National Park, and just to the north of the pool the cliff sweeps down to the shoreline with dense bush in view. Beautiful.

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

The pool is at the bottom of a pathway that leads down from Leeder Park (named after a former manager of Coalcliff Colliery). It’s only a short path but it makes the pool totally secluded – and I came across a beautiful lizard on my way down (see gallery for pic)

Steps at both ends of the pool. I chose the ones at the shallow end because they seemed less slippery, but actually the hand rail was very wobbly, so beware if using this way in.

The small toilet and changing facility at the top of the path looked brand new. It looked like a 1-man-1-woman facility. Just above the pool is a raised concrete deck – which looks like it’s been placed well above the high tide line – where there is a fresh water shower but you’ll need your towelling technique, unless you want to shock the neighbours.

Tidal differences

I was there two hours ahead of high tide and there was no sign of waves surrounding the pool, though the tide marks suggest you may have to paddle to the pool at high tide (I’ll try to return to check)

Other practical points

There is a little paddling pool for young ‘uns right next to the main pool.

History and stories of the pool

I’ve read conflicting stories about the history of this pool, with some saying it was built in the 1920s and others saying it is relatively new having been built in the 1950s. Noel Leeder, the local Colliery manager, seems to have had a role in it somewhere along the line. I’d love to hear from anyone who knows more…

Clearly the Sea Eels Swimming Club keeps the pool busy during winter weekends, though

People I met here include:

I met nobody here and had the pool totally to myself for half an hour on a bright Monday morning in May!

What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in the cold of winter in the 1960s?

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 Illawarra Mercury ran a piece on Coalcliff Rock Pool as part of its 2014 series – has some nice quotes from regulars.

The publication Weekend Notes has a small piece on Coalcliff Rock Pool, though this is the piece that suggests the pools were built in the 1950s.

Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

There is nowhere to get yourself a coffee or even a can of coke in Coalcliff. So my recommendation is to head the two kilometres northwards to Stanwell Park where there are two good options:

For coffee?

16 Feet Espresso

16 Feet Espresso reviewed by Fancy a Cuppa website

16 Feet Espresso
Best coffee in Stanwell Park

Open Tues to Sunday at 8.00am (closes at 4.00pm)

Closed Mondays

This is my preferred spot for coffee in Stanwell Park, and so is the place I’d recommend coming to from Coalcliff Rock Pool. Their coffee is excellent (roasted in Sydney), they do loose leaf teas if tea is your tipple, and have a nice selection of brownies and banana bread type things to munch on.

For Mondays?

Palms Café

Palms Café in Stanwell Park
Palms Café in Stanwell Park

Open Thursday to Monday 9.00am – 4pm

Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

This café just off Lawrence Hargrave Drive serves up a decent Allpress coffee and has fantastic slabs of cake to go with it. Much needed and welcome after that hard swim in the cold water! There’s seating outside or in, and as the name suggests, you can sit under the palm trees sipping your cuppa!

8 thoughts on “Coalcliff Rock Pool – NSW 2508”

  1. please note the pool is only 27m long, not at olympic sized pool. so when you got to the 25m mark you would have been just about to bump your head on the end of the pool. it is likely that you swam over some seaweed, that would not be unusual.

  2. coalcliff one of my favourite places to escape to. such a beautiful beach and very private and peaceful. The creek which runs down to the ocean is really lovely

    1. I didn’t notice the creek that day, but I did get a sense of its secluded spot. It felt really exclusive to be in the water on my own that day, but I must return for a swim in slightly warmer conditions…

  3. Thanks Simon for your photos – Recent changes make for some nostalgia, but it remains a lovely spot to escape into.

    1. Yes we went back last summer just before we left the region and found it a bit too sanitised now, but I guess if that means more kids get into the water, then it’s worth it

  4. Hello Simon, not sure if this message will reach you so long after you wrote this piece – but just wondering if you still have these photos? I’m particularly interested in the one at the top of your blog, with the palm trees. Any chance of buying a print of it? I spent my childhood in one of the Coalcliff shacks, and for nostalgic reasons I’m doing a picture wall of photos from here, including a commissioned painting of the old shack. Yours is one of the better photos I’ve seen if the pool (without all the tacky signage that’s there now).
    If a copy of your photo is possible, please email me to discuss.
    So glad you enjoyed your visit there – it holds special memories for me. Both my sister’s ashes have been scattered off the rocks by the pool.
    Thanks, Judi.

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