My favourite thing about Sydney is its abundance of water. People live amongst the stuff, they travel on it and they swim in it.
Around the turn of the last century people built many seaside pools around Sydney, so I decided to visit a few and am now standing above the Wally Weekes pool which is at the north end of Bondi Beach.
The surf life saving club say that wally Weekes was one of their founding members, By account he also founded the Bondi life saving club, was a swimmer, boxer, publican and a life saver, quite a character who was important enough to name this pool after.
At the other end of the beach is a swimming club that dates back to 1929, when a local band of life savers trying to maintain their fitness in Winter formed the Bondi Icebergs Winter Swimming Club.
There is a membership rule called the “15B rule” that states that you must swim three out of four winter Sundays for five years.
The water temperature hovers around 16 degrees during winter.
Bronte Baths was ppened back in 1887 so it’s one of Sydney’s oldest pools. It is best known for it’s regular swimmer Evelyn Whillier, who at 18 competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and at 20 won gold in the 1938 British Empire Games. In the 1990s — in her late 70s — she’d head to Bronte at 5am every day to squeeze in a few kilometres. You’ll meet all kinds of swimmers here — from similarly serious lappers to kids in floaties. There’s ample room on the surrounding rocks for lazing about. Consider a night swim on balmy evenings.
Walkway around past Waverly Cemetery, Clovelly Ocean Pool, Giles Baths
From Bronte baths there’s a wonderful walkway that takes us past waverly cemetery, then around Clovelly Beach and Clovelly Ocean Pool which wasn’t too clean when I walked past it, but at the end of the bay there are some wonderful places to swim in the rough sea.
Then we get to the Giles Baths at Dolphin’s Point before walking around to my favourite ocean pool in Sydney, which is Wylie’s Baths….
Wylie’s baths were built in 1907 by the father of Mina Wylie, who was one of Australia’s first female Olympic swimming representatives. In fact Mina Wylie and Fanny Durack were Australia’s first woman gold and silver medallists.
Putting history aside the thing I love about Wylie’s baths is the relaxed nature of the place. Like the Icebergs Pool it has facilities including a space for Yoga and Pilates as well as a great little cafe, but the best thing for me is the feeling of community that this place has.
Because the swimming section is a converted rockpool it also has many other inhabitants too, fish, nudibranch of you see them as well different species of octopus, including the little blue ring octopus that you must make sure you don’t touch if you are lucky to see it.
All in all I would say that the beach pools make sydney worth seeing alone.