Pool Reviews

Ross Jones Memorial Pool – Coogee, NSW 2034

Ross Jones Memorial Pool at Coogee Beach
Ross Jones Memorial Pool at Coogee Beach

Long before the rock pool was built, Coogee Beach had an English-style pier, though it only lasted six years before a storm destroyed it.

My experience in the pool

There was bright sunshine over Coogee when I arrived mid-morning for my dip in this delightful pool.

It’s only a short pool – about 17m probably, or maybe even less – but when the sun is blasting down and the sea is glittering all around, getting into a pool like this is one of life’s pure pleasures.

I rather like the turrets around the edge of the pool. They actually line both the main pool and the kiddies’ paddling pool next door.

It’s tucked into the cliff face a bit like the rock pool at Bronte, but quite a lot shorter. It’s also quite shallow really, though deep enough to do freestyle without scraping your hands on the floor of the pool.

Even three hours after high tide the waves were flowing over the pool edge, making for a fun swim, caught up in the swell or the spray if you timed your breath at the wrong (or right) moment. There was even quite a splash from the waves in the paddling pool, causing shrieks of delight – and one or two tears – from the toddlers playing in the next door area.

This pool was much busier than I expected for a midweek morning during school term. Admittedly, many of the people there were Mums with toddlers – or grandparents out with the small kids – but there was also a handful of people joining me for laps. It was fine for swimming, but I can imagine this pool must quickly fill up at weekends and on holidays.

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

I caught a bus from Central Station, but there are buses also from Circular Quay and Bondi Junction. Many routes drop you off right by the pool.

There’s only a narrow – and slightly seaweedy green – set of steps down into the water.

On a busy day I can imagine it’s hard to find a spot to leave your things poolside. I managed to find a small area between the top of the rocks and the level at which the waves were coming in to soak everything. But, again, on a busy weekend, could be tricky. Nearest shower is camouflaged in the rock face up on the path about 50m north of the pool. And nearest changing rooms are way further along the beach behind the Surf Life Savers building.

Other practical points

Tidal differences: Quite a big difference, since the waves were coming over the pool wall even at three hours after high tide. I haven’t been here when the tide is fully in or during a storm but I can imagine the place gets quite lively.

History and stories of the pool

Built in 1947 in memory of a local Alderman.

Coogee Beach has been through a lot of changes in the last 100 years. They tried building a pier half way up the beach in 1928, but it had washed away by 1934. Before the Second World War, there apparently used to be floodlit surfing on Coogee Beach with up to 30,000 attending every night at weekends. But that was all before the pool was built.

Rips in the surf and a sandbank off the beach make Coogee the most dangerous beach in the country for spinal injuries, I gather. No wonder the pool gets busy!

It is reported also that the local Aussie Rules (AFL) team the Sydney Swans have been known to have recovery dips here after a match. Mind you, if they were all in this pool, there wouldn’t be much room for anybody else…

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

I rather liked this series by another travelling swim blogger, who came to Ross Jones Memorial Pool as recently as in October 2014 .

There are night time shots on this blogger’s site, where Ross Jones Pool is one of a series.

Back in 2009 the Lazy Swimmer was here

And the Coogee Penguins Winter Swimming Club have their own website

Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

The cafe I used to like near the Ross Jones pool in Coogee closed down so if anyone has a good tip, let me know in the comments, please.

9 thoughts on “Ross Jones Memorial Pool – Coogee, NSW 2034”

  1. Lived in Coogee from birth in 1944 until I was 21 (1965) – learnt to swim in a very cold ‘small’ Coogee pool when 2,3 or 4 as I was never afraid of water. When older loved to dive into the ‘big’ Coogee pool off any nearby rock shelf, eventually diving off the surf club level wall into about 4 feet of pool water – always with hands down just in case dive was too deep. Best times when high tide and a good swell coming over pool walls. FYI Coogee has 3 other ocean pools – one at North end of beach near the Bali memorial. Other two South-east of the Ross Jones pool. I do not know if they are commercial pools still, but they were in my time there. Gile’s, Wylie’s, Lady McIvers (females only) and not to forget the old “Aquarium” which was in fact an aquarium (with the occasional shark) until turned into a pool – always with ‘fresh’ supply of salt water pumped in from the ocean rather than a chlorinated pool. Local reference – http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/facilities-and-recreation/beaches-and-coast/ocean-pools. All are worth a look. Cheers from Byron Bay (no ocean pools up here) – Denis C

    1. Thanks for the memory Denis. Great story, and you were very lucky to grow up in such a magical spot as Coogee. I’ll definitely get into two of those other Coogee pools before too long though I plan on sending my wife into McIvers to do the review for that one! Shame there’s no ocean pool at Byron Bay, but you have other beauties to enjoy up there…

  2. I came to Australia in 1963 with my mother as ten-pound-poms. My mother found a house to rent in Beach Street, and yes it is still there with a 4 million dollar tag. My mother rented out 3 rooms as a boarding house. Coming from near Manchester in England a few things were missing from my childhood.I was 9years old. To see sunshine, warm weather, no snow, nice happy people, and yes ”THE Rock Pool”! It would take me all of 7 mins to walk there, just walk right down the street. Our home was exactly opposite Wedding Cake Island. The days spent at the Rock Pool were well over 300! If not more come winter or summer. It is to this day in 2023 my most favorite place in the whole world. I have been around the world, but nothing in my mind will come close to those amazzzing days. My life totally changed from a kid coming from a very bitter-cold place, to just heaven. I was allowed to go whenever I wanted; my mother trusted me. In fact! I taught myself to swim in that very pool. You just have to say that anyone who has a history of that Rock Pool is a very lucky person indeed. It holds as my best part of my childhood. Sadly we only stayed a few years, but it is a strong tie I will never forget.

  3. I lived in Coogee from birth in 1942 until I was 23 and have many happy memories of the early years learning to swim in this pool.At first there was only the small pool which was often half filled with sand and I remember the big pool being built in 1947.This was great for us kids to improve our skills and eventually move onto the surf.The pool was (and probably still) is very popular with all ages to the point of over crowding at times.Coogee was a great place to live and am thankful for being there.

    1. Lucky you, Bill, to grow up in Coogee in the 1940s and 50s. Must have been such a magical place for a kid to be – it still is, but lots of changes since those days, I think

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