Pool Reviews

Greenwich Baths – Greenwich, NSW 2065

Greenwich Baths

Greenwich is named after its namesake on the River Thames in London

My experience in the pool

Greenwich Baths sit on the north side of Sydney harbour, with great views back to the Sydney CBD skyline. Greenwich Point, next door to the baths, lies just round the corner from where the Lane Cove River meets the Parramatta River, hence the briney water mentioned by one of the other swim bloggers I link to below.

This was my first swim on the NSW ocean pools (and harbour baths) quest since Christmas. I wouldn’t normally go on such a cloudy day because the pools always look so much better with blue skies overhead, but it was time to renew my efforts, and in spite of the lifeguard’s worries that the water might be chilly, I figured by end of January, it surely had to be at least 20C, and I was right.

Some of the other reviews of Greenwich Baths talk of detritus on the surface and lots of jellyfish in the waters here, but all I could see was a faint film of oil on the water by the sloping ramp at the entrance.

According to local swimmer Wendy, who chatted with me after my swim, this oily film was new and not something she’d seen before in all her time swimming at Greenwich. She reported it to the lifeguards, who were discussing it even as I left. It was possibly a small leak from one of the many boats – and bigger ships – that cruise past Greenwich Point regularly.

Still, once in the deep, and onto the laned swimming area, there was no sign of that oil and I’d forgotten about it completely.

It’s nice to have the lane ropes at Greenwich, as they help wayward swimmers like me keep to the straight and narrow. The laned area is only about 30m long, though. That was fine for someone like me returning to swimming after a few weeks lay-off, but I noticed Wendy, the only other swimmer in the pool while I was there, sticking to the unlaned area, which gives you a longer stretch, maybe up to 60m, if you really want to do your distances here.

At high tide the water is deep at Greenwich, though there are no depth markers to indicate just how deep. There is a nice sandy beach even at high tide, and the buckets of kiddies’ toys left by the beachside suggest that this is a fun spot for parents to bring young ‘uns for a safe paddle from a cosy beach.

I seemed to be the only one to enter the water via the – admittedly rather steep – ramp by the kiosk. The other swimmers I saw waded in via the sand. But the ramp is nearer the lanes area, so felt like the easier option to me.

I also got a few cuts and bruises from my laps at Greenwich. Nothing major, mind, but I’d need to be a regular here to work out how to turn at the end of each lap: there is no wall as such to push off, and the small barrier at the lane ends was covered in slippery seaweed, with edges that I caught various parts of my body on as I turned at each end.

Greenwich is a great spot, though. Tucked away in a quiet, residential part of Sydney, but so close to the CBD. Both the staff on duty for my visit were also Poms on working visas, and one of them couldn’t believe how lucky she was to work here.

Like me that morning, she had caught the ferry from Circular Quay and wandered round to the Baths for work. Not a bad life if you can get it.

Although it was really quiet for my visit, this had the feel of a local community pool, and I loved the memorial plaque – and sculpture (of a chess piece!) – for a certain John Purdy, who had been Aussie chess champion (hence that sculpture) – who had swum at Greenwich Baths regularly between 1941 and 2011. Shame I won’t be able to hear the stories he could have told about the place…

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

Ferry from Circular Quay takes about 20 minutes to get to Greenwich. There are buses that stop virtually outside the Baths. Parking looks to be pretty easy here also, and no charge.

Enter the water via the sandy beach for a gradual increase in water depth, or take the steep and slippery ramp, holding onto the handrail, if you want to reach the deep quickly and be nearer the laned area.

They are still in the process of rebuilding the changing rooms at Greenwich Baths, so for now there is a temporary toilet and changing shed. There is a shower by the poolside, but presumably once those new changing rooms are finished, you’ll be able to shower there too.

Tidal differences

Best at high tide, but I think it is possible to swim at Greenwich Baths on any tide.

Other practical tips

$4 entrance fee in 2017 for a swim at Greenwich Baths

The baths are open from September to April inclusive (see photo in the gallery for actual opening times)

History and stories of the pool

For the best history of Greenwich Baths, go to the website of the Baths themselves, which has a gallery of lovely old photos and some insight into the beginnings of swimming around Greenwich NSW. It was built in the 1920s, with some former swimming champions being regulars here (though I have to confess I hadn’t heard of them).

I also found on the Trove website a 1937 article from The Sun newspaper, which referred to complaints that ships unloading nearby led to pollution in the baths. Coincidence that 80 years on, that can occasionally be a problem even today when numbers of ships going past are so much fewer.

People I met here

Meeting Wendy who told me the oil was a new thing she hadn’t seen before in her years swimming at Greenwich. She loves the place and swims regularly here, preferring the open water before the laned section as it gives scope for swimming longer ‘laps’. Wendy was gushing about how friendly the staff here are, and how they work hard to clean the pool every day. (In fact one woman was netting fallen leaves from the shallows as we spoke). We had a nice chat about my pools project, and Wendy very kindly gave me a lift to that coffee shop up Greenwich Road! How’s that for local kind deed of the day?

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

Swimming blogger Therese came to Greenwich in 2016 for Valentine’s Day.

The Mrs G Spot swim blogger has also written about Greenwich Baths.

Kenton, the guy seeking to swim 1000m in 1000 pools has also ticked Greenwich Baths off his list.

The I’d Swim That blogger came to Greenwich in 2013.

Jema Mum blog wrote about Greenwich Baths in 2014.

And just to prove that Greenwich Baths are a popular spot for parents to being small kids, here’s another blog entry on Sydney’s best places for children.

This blogger included Greenwich Baths in their entries for Sydney beaches to go to, so that sand is really popular on some days, clearly.

 Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

There is a kiosk at the pool entrance where you can have a coffee and take it onto one of the loungers by the poolside, if you fancy swim-watching after your own dip. My favourite place for coffee in Greenwich closed down, though sadly.

9 thoughts on “Greenwich Baths – Greenwich, NSW 2065”

  1. My grandma used to take us to Greenwich baths. So nice to see your pictures and reminisce through reading your review of the pool. Looks like not much has changed.

    1. Apparently the filter band outside the shark net is new and helps keep debris out of the water at Greenwich. Also, they are working on new changing rooms, so things should be even better when that’s all done and dusted.

  2. I Remember growing up in Greenwich in the late 50’s early 60’s and have great memories of Greenwich baths.
    Frequented almost exclusively by the local greenwich point kids every afternoon in summer and on the weekends.
    We learned to swim at the swim club races every weekend.
    I remember the swell coming thu the nets , and the often jelly blubber invasions.
    The baths had a raised platform at each end of the deep section ,just perfect for practicing your bombs.
    All the local kids came…
    The Ridleys,Harrison’s,Ayres,Webster’s,kennedys,Zeach’s,Browns,Wilmots,Batchelor’s the Harris sisters,Pierce brothers to name just a few.
    I remember late afternoons on our skid boards in the shallows,ice blocks outside the little shop and the trek thru the turnstiles up the steps and off home at dusk.
    I remember the day television personality Hazel Phillips ( from beauty & the beast) was thrown out for cavorting on the beach with her young boyfriend ….. very controversial for the time!
    The owner/managers was Bryson Lang and his wife who were strict but fun.
    I have long since moved from the area but It is one of my fondest memories of life in Greenwich and I have taken my children down to show them how we had fun in a tidal river pool without all the mod cons they are now used to.
    I’m now ready to share with my grand children.
    It’s a wonderful piece of my youth when times seemed much simpler.

    1. Those are great stories, thanks so much for sharing them. I’ll have to look out for press clippings on the TV personality cavorting with boyfriend. Sounds right up the beach inspectors’ street…

  3. It’s a shame that so many of the community owned pools in NSW have been given to private operators to run for profit.I am moving there this month from Newcastle and had thought to use the pool as I assumed that as there was no need for water maintenance that it would be open to the public. Newcastle has 2 ocean pools that seem to have similar facilities and are pumped out and cleaned weekly and we keep them publicly owned and free. It seems that $4.20 is charged for less overheads and the only service provided is to take your money.

    1. I agree Peter. I guess the main compensation is that there are still lots of ocean pools and harbour baths which are free to use. And maybe some of those that now cost to enter might have closed without the change of administrators? I know what you mean, though, and Newcastle is really blessed with its ocean baths

  4. What a blast from the past, We are descendants of the Green Family. Lived all of our early lives in Greenwich. Actually on Greenwich Road. Went to Greenwich School and Learnt to swim …teaching ourselves in Greenwich Baths. We had a wonderful life growing up used to leave home early in the mornings and not get back until nearly dark, roaming all over from Greenwich to Lane Cove to North Sydney, with no cares or worries …. Different to today. We loved the Baths, great in Summer and meeting up with our mates, also the Dances that were held there as well. Eventually growing up and getting Married and moving to different parts of Australia x But still love the memories that Greenwich will always hold xx Janice Milne xx

  5. Wow just read my Mum Janice’ response to her own memories.
    My two older brothers and I moved to live with my grandparents the Prentices in late 60s after our father died.Went to school in Greenwich had my heart broken at 5 by an English boy named Michael who’s family returned to UK.
    We often went to the baths, my best friend at the time was Michelle Lang and Leanne Tooth and I have amazing memories of the baths and surrounds.
    Up behind the pools house was someone’s mulberry tree we used to devour when in season.My grandmother would say when we got home covered in mulberry stains…”You’ve been eating those bloody mulberries again”.
    I remember eating licorice blocks that cost 5 for a cent we would have a huge bag to last all day.
    We either had red or black mouths from our adventures 🙂
    I still am grateful however traumatised , at the thought of learning to swim and jumping off those old starting blocks into murky jellyfish harbour waters but survived.Often explored the surrounding narrow streets of Greenwich.
    Mann house was the haunted house and I bet the lanes are even narrower than I remember around the area of the baths.
    My brothers did the paper run at the wharf every morning delivered down to the ferry in a mini moke owned by the newsagent in Greenwich road.
    I am about to embark on a reminisce trip to Greenwich with my 33 year old daughter in a couple of weeks to show her where I grew up.
    Thanks for highlighting this amazing iconic landmark of Sydney.
    Fond memories of an amazing family the Lang’s.
    My great grandfather was George Green 1st boat builder in Greenwich and world sculler.
    Nee: Vicki Weir,Milne….
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.Ive lived 1000 lives since however fond memories of Greenwich baths.

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