Pool Reviews

Kiama Ocean Pool – Pheasant Point Baths 2533

Kiama Olympic Pool

Kiama Ocean Pool

The former “ladies'” baths in Kiama

My experience in the rock pool

This must be one of the biggest ocean pools along the south coast of NSW. It’s about 40m long and wide enough for lots of lane swimming. But you hardly ever see anyone in it, which is really a shame, because the less it’s used, the less frequently it gets cleared out.

And this has been the problem for me in each of my dips in this pool. Because the tides only clear the ocean end of the pool thoroughly, the town end of this pool can get clogged up with debris. On one occasion it was just small balls of polysterene, which I swam past keeping my mouth firmly closed until I got to a clearer stretch of water; on another occasion it was more unpleasant looking gunge accumulating by the wall at the town end.

The good thing about this pool is that it is big enough to steer clear of the unpleasant bits, and on a bright summer’s day, it can be a delight to swim in, often all alone, knowing that the other rock pool at Blowhole Point is full of people.

At high tide on those warm summer’s days, it’s great to catch the waves gently bursting over the pool walls, though on the whole this pool stays well above the main ocean water (hence its tendency to gain  and then not release debris).

With the cliff face right by this pool and to the north, it gets lots of shade, so if you’re looking for a shady and safe swim in summer, this is a good bet, though once you’re beyond the summer months, it also means this pool feels a lot colder.

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

This pool is at the northern end of Black Beach in the centre of Kiama. You get to it down a long path from Black Beach itself and it’s tucked in against the cliff face before the headland.

There’s no real shallow end in this pool (it is shallower at the town end, but still a fair depth). But there are two ways in: one via vertical steps half way along the side of the pool; and the other a ramp that takes you well into the deeper section of the pool.

It’s a bit of a walk back from the pool to the changing rooms and showers (about 100m) along the path winding its way through grassland back towards town. No showers by the pool itself, so even if you’re towelling technique is good, you’ll need to rinse off probably back at those changing rooms.

Tidal differences

At high tide, the waves come gently over the edge of the pool at the eastern side. But this pool is well elevated so the tidal differences are not especially marked

Other practical points

There are viewing steps raised above the pool height at the town end of the pool, harking back to the days when they held swimming carnivals here. It’s a good place to leave your things in sight while you swim.

History and stories of the pool

This was once the ladies’ pool, though it became ‘Continental’ (ie both genders) subsequently and was used as the main pool for local competitions until they built the indoor leisure centre up the road…

Since I’ve rarely seen anyone else in the pool, I have never had the chance to chat to regulars here. In fact, I don’t even know whether there are any regular swimmers in this pool?

However, I have now spoken to some locals about this pool and have discovered that the original Kiama Olympic Pool now lies under the wide grassy area near this pool, and that this pool was once just the overflow area for the Olympic Pool which has now been covered over.

It is said that the building of the indoor leisure centre sounded the death knell for Kiama’s Olympic Pool, though some say it was the under usage of the new indoor pool that led local authorities to force swimmers inside by covering up the town’s only Olympic Pool – what a story, if it is true!

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 covered both Kiama rock pools in one article of its 2014 series on the NSW ocean pools.

Swimming blogger Sally came here in 2013, with some great photos and extracts on the history of the pool from the now defunct NSW Ocean Baths site.

Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

There’s nothing by the pool itself, so take a five minute stroll to those heritage cottages on Collins Street for the best in Kiama…

For Coffee

The Hungry Monkey

The Hungry Monkey reviewed by Fancy a Cuppa website

Coffee in Kiama at The Hungry Monkey
Good coffee in Kiama

Open daily at 6.30am (closes at 4.00pm)

The two local lads who opened this new coffee shop in April 2015 chose their coffee well, They use the excellent White Horse Coffee from Sutherland. And these guys really care about how the coffee is prepared and presented. It’s the only place in Kiama I’ve been asked ‘how’s the coffee?’ when I’m halfway through drinking it! There’s a selection of muffins and banana breads to go with it, though the main selling point of this café is its burgers: not something I go for usually after a swim, since we stick to the cake or biscuits.



10 thoughts on “Kiama Ocean Pool – Pheasant Point Baths 2533”

  1. I was disappointed with this pool when I stayed in Kiama last January. For the entirety of my stay there was a sign up saying “pool closed for cleaning”. But there was no one doing any cleaning. I thought the timing was bad as it was the summer school holidays.

    On my last day there the sign was removed, so I was determined to have a swim. However I didn’t swim because the pool was absolutely full of crap (it hadn’t been cleaned) and a woman had her large dog swimming in the pool (in spite of the prominent ‘no dogs’ sign). There was no way I was getting in after seeing that. Very disappointing as I’d booked the motel close to this pool with the specific intention of swimming in the pool every day.

    1. That must have been really frustrating, Annette. I hope you went instead to Kiama’s other rock pool?

      It’s a real shame about the 50m pol in Kiama. It seems to get the worst of both worlds, with more debris and less cleaning than the other one. And I have to say as a Kiama resident, I’ve virtually given up going in because there seems to be either a ‘closed’ sign or more debris.

      1. I did go to the other pool, but it isn’t as good for swimming laps, was more crowded and the change room isn’t as good as the one near the 50m pool. (The shower in the women’s change room floods as the floor slopes away from the waste, and it’s difficult getting dressed while standing in 5cm water!)

        I preferred to go to Surf Beach, but the change room there is really crap. It’s a shame the 50m pool isn’t cleaned regularly as the change room there is great and the pool is a good size. I’ll be there again this summer holidays, so fingers crossed!

      2. Hi Simon; just some notes on the Continental Pool at Kiama. We used to walk from the High School to the original pool back in the mid sixties. This pool was filled in and grassed over years later. The current pool in my opinion is the best pool on the South Coast for endurance type swimming. Now seventy, I use this pool four to five times per week, even during the winter, albeit with a tri-suit. I choose to circumnavigate the pool sticking close to the wall. The pool is 50×25 metres making one lap close to 150 metres. I know this because it takes the same time to do 20 circumference laps as it does to swim 60 laps of an Olympic pool, making for a three km. non-stop aerobic workout. Tides of 1.5 metre or higher keep the water flushed and clean, especially during the colder months as the usage is minimal. Algae accumulation occurs 2 to 3 times during the warmer months due to an increase in bacteria as a result of the water temperature and unclean humans. Council cleaning usually takes two days though if the tides are at their lowest cycle it can take up to a week to fill. Marine occupants include Barney Brim and Olly the octopus, the latter being a long time survivor of various chlorine overdoses by over enthusiastic Council staff. Cheers!

        1. Thanks Graeme – I guess I must have been unlucky each time I swam in that pool as it always seemed to have a cluster of greasy looking debris, especially towards the land end of the pool. It is a lovely length, though, and I often wondered why it wasn’t more used. One other local did take me round and show me the old pool outlets UNDER the cricket field, so I know it was once a proper Olympic pool with schools doing laps etc there. Thanks for the memories and observations, though.

  2. On a trip to Sydney last month from my home in Perth, I had a few spare days and was keen to spend them visiting somewhere with an ocean pool. Based on your website, I chose Kiama, since I could get there easily on public transport from Sydney and stay within walking distance of the pool.

    The run of very hot weather had just finished and it was quite cool for February, with a very overcast sky and intermittent rain. At 9 am on the first day, a wetsuited snorkeler was doing laps and a couple of regulars were socializing by the edge. The water was very choppy, and I was a little reluctant to go in, so I ended up chatting to the friendly locals for some time. One told me the pool had recently been cleaned, and indeed it was quite clean. There was certainly no floating debris. She also said the pool is very busy with lap swimmers very early in the morning. With some encouragement, I eventually went in. The water was so invigorating and plenty deep enough.

    My experience on the second day was similar, but the water was much calmer. A very positive experience and I’ll certainly holiday here again, next time bringing my goggles so I can swim laps.

    Thanks for your great website. I’ve used it to decide that my next trip will be to Newcaste. I had better seriously consider moving back to NSW!

  3. That’s great to hear it’s being used more, Kate. It is a beautiful place to swim. So glad you find the website useful – I did it partly to experience the pools myself, but also hoping to inspire others like you. And yes, you’re in for a treat in Newcastle…

  4. My family is from Kiama since 1919. We heard the olympic pool was closed cos some drunks drowned in there one night.

  5. I’m a local resident, an older local resident. It’s true that this wonderful rock pool used to be adjoined to a fully cemented Olympic outdoor saltwater pool that the local people grew up with and loved. The pool complex consisted of this rock pool, the cemented pool, a baby pool and change sheds. Many happy times were spent here with casual swimming, swim club and school carnivals. It’s also true that the local sentiment was that the area was filled in and grassed over to make the new indoor chlorine pool more utilised. Now to more modern times. This pool is greatly utilised in the warmer months, especially in the mornings with lap swimmers, myself being one of them. Starting from around 6 in the morning till around 10 there is a regular and consistent coming and going of people who love this pool. Jump in, chit chat, do their laps and leave. This drops off to during the winter months to the brave because it’s freezing. I’ve noticed over the last couple of summers that visitors/tourists have taken to relaxing, Sun baking etc on the grass surrounding the area during the rest of the day while enjoying the pool. Great to see. The pool is regularity cleaned but as mentioned does gather a bit of crap in the land end corners. Blue bottle sometimes invade and lice when the sea temp is high. Love this pool.

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