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Image 1 for The wonderful life and extraordinary history of the NSW ocean pools

From colonial times to today, these refuges from hazards posed by surf and rips offer calmer, cooler, shark-free water. A swimmer at Bondi Icebergs in winter 1946. Photo: State Library of New South Wales

Image 2 for The wonderful life and extraordinary history of the NSW ocean pools

Ocean pools offered swimmers a safer alternative to unpatrolled surf beaches. Bondi Icebergs in 1946. Photo: State Library of New South Wales

Image 3 for The wonderful life and extraordinary history of the NSW ocean pools

Bronte Splashers and Bondi Icebergs operated for decades before winter swimming clubs became common from the 1950s. Bronte Baths in Sydney. Photo: Henry King/Tyrrell Collection/Museum of Applied Arts and Science

Image 4 for The wonderful life and extraordinary history of the NSW ocean pools

There are some 100 ocean pools in NSW – Sydney’s Bilgola today.

Image 5 for The wonderful life and extraordinary history of the NSW ocean pools

Many were built by prisoners and by unemployment relief workers during the Depression. Forster on the NSW Mid North Coast, today.

The wonderful life and extraordinary history of the NSW ocean pools

30 December 20


Seawater pools sitting on rocky surf coasts so that waves can wash into them are wet, wild, convivial public places that are both part of the beachscape and the wider poolscape.

Australia’s tourism campaigns routinely feature the beloved pools on the New South Wales coast. Although nature can create them without our help, human efforts in the state have developed about 100 ocean pools since colonial times. 

They range from simple rings of rocks to huge rectangular pools catering for competitive and recreational swimmers.

During the Depression years, funding for unemployment relief and public works programs enabled many ocean pools to be developed.

CHECK OUT THESE TWO BRILLIANT LINKS FROM THE GUARDIAN

 - THE HISTORY

FROM COLONIAL TIMES IN NSW TO TODAY

 - THE POOLS NOW

“WATER WORLDS” - THE MAGIC OF OCEAN POOLS

 - SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

 - AUTHOR: NICOLE LARKIN

For five years, Nicole Larkin has been documenting the state’s unique abundance of coastal pools. Guardian Australia has mapped the Sydney-based architect's efforts, revealing sites of human ingenuity, and natural beauty.

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