Sydney Pools – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sydney pools are a popular feature in many suburban backyards, providing respite from the heat and an ideal place to relax. However, pool ownership isn’t always as simple as it seems. While the investment can be well worth it, there are a number of important considerations to take into account before purchasing. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process.

A swimming pool can offer a number of benefits, including an enhanced fitness regime, reduced stress, and the ability to enjoy the scenery. It is also a great way to stay cool and to get in some water-based exercise in the winter months. In addition, a swimming pool can boost your self-esteem and make you feel refreshed after a long day.

With a swim season that extends into autumn and even mild winter days, a heated pool in Eastern Sydney transforms your backyard into a year-round sanctuary for relaxation, socializing, and fitness. It’s a unique selling point that sets your home apart from the competition, making it an appealing prospect for prospective buyers.

The story behind Sydney’s ocean pools

From the start, there was a clear need for public swimming areas on Sydney’s surf-coast beaches, says Marie-Louise McDermott, an academic and author of a website dedicated to the subject. The clubs that formed to host men’s club swimming events in the 1890s and women’s swimming events in 1906 recognized the demand for safe bathing spots away from powerful waves, which could carry surfers and swimmers overboard.

In the years that followed, Sydney’s surf-coast municipalities built ocean pools to give swimmers a refuge from the big seas and southerly winds. Serene at low tide, choppy at high, they were a unique feature that made Sydney stand out from other coastal cities around the world.

But the pools were not immune to the vicissitudes of the Australian environment, and a combination of factors contributed to their decline. By the mid-1970s, most were fenced off and in various stages of disrepair, or even closed altogether. Some were reopened with the promise of a multi-million-dollar renovation, but others were abandoned, with no plan for their future.

Many of the city’s pools have since been reopened, and there is hope that others will be restored in the coming years. But the controversy surrounding the fate of the North Sydney pool has raised questions about why some pools are being repaired and others are being closed – and who is paying for it all.

The City of Sydney is working with the community to find ways to recoup the costs and keep the pools open. One option is to charge fashion week shows, production companies and private parties – a revenue stream that is far outside the normal remit of local pool management. But it isn’t enough to cover the staggering bill, which topped $86m in 2022, and will likely top $100m in 2024. It may also require a council election to decide its future, and that could be a political no-no.