Watsons Bay Baths

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COVID-19 safety

Our beaches, harbourside pools and parks are open.

To provide increased evening exercise opportunities for our residents, sports lighting is currently activated from 5-8.30pm Monday to Friday at all of our sportsgrounds: Andrew Petrie Oval and Woollahra Oval 2 and 3 (Woollahra), Christison Park (Vaucluse), Trumper Oval (Paddington) and Lyne Park (Rose Bay).

A NSW public health order limits outdoor exercise and public gatherings to two people (excluding members of the same household). If you are fully vaccinated, you can attend an outdoor gathering of up to five people so long as all those at the gathering aged 16 years or over are fully vaccinated. Stay local.
Find out more from NSW Health

Please maintain good hygiene and social distancing when using our fitness equipment and playgrounds. Mask wearing is mandatory when outside your home, except when exercising.

Our staff and security personnel will be monitoring crowds at the Woollahra Council beaches and parks. If these locations reach full capacity to the extent where social distancing requirements cannot be met, we will need to stop public entry until people leave the location and more space becomes available. Check our social media and VMS boards in our popular recreational locations for updates. Find out more about our COVID-safe summer initiatives.

We hope you enjoy our outdoor places and spaces.

Watsons Bay Baths

Watsons Bay Baths is a fully accessible harbourside tidal enclosure that is popular with all age groups. The baths consist of two floating turning board/sunbathing pontoons, a boardwalk and seating with great views of Sydney Harbour. The baths have Australia's first deep water wheelchair access to a tidal harbour pool.

The adjacent Teagardens provide shaded outdoor kiosk seating, views across to Sydney Harbour, toilets and change room facilities for people using the baths.

Getting here

Marine Parade, Watsons Bay

Limited parking is available in Marine Parade.

Facilities

  • Year-round swimming enclosure
  • Kiosk
  • Toilets
  • Change room facilities

Dogs

  • Dogs are prohibited from the swimming enclosure

Accessibility

  • All-ability water access ramp and two fully immersible wheelchairs - MLAK key required
  • Wheelchair storage lockers - MLAK key required
  • Accessible toilet in Robertson Park and Watsons Bay Library
  • Accessible parking at Marine Parade Car Park

Restrictions

  • Fishing (line and spear)
  • Consumption of alcohol within the fenced pool area
  • Smoking

History

The first public swimming hole in Watsons Bay area was at Laing Point, located between Watsons Bay and Camp Cove, and was known as the 'Bogie Hole'. It was cut out of the rock by two Watsons Bay men, Jack Graham and Reg Norton around 1888 and proved a popular swimming spot. So popular that the pool was enlarged by the Council in 1895, and a dressing room built in 1898. Evidence of the bathing sheds no longer exists, however the excavated pool is still visible and is in use during the swimming season.

The succession of pools built along and around the Watsons Bay area demonstrates the popularity of harbour pools as recreational facilities for locals and tourists during the early years of the twentieth century. The popularity of the pastime was enhanced by the increased interest in swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle and as a recreational sport. The competitions of the modern Olympiad and the notoriety of swimmers such as Tony Fenech, Frank Jordan and Dawn Fraser, helped raise the profile of the sport.

The Watson Bay Baths are one of a number of harbour pools constructed in the late nineteenth and  twentieth century. The majority of the harbour pools identified in the National Trust of Australia (NSW)  Survey share a similar early history to the Watsons Bay pools, that is, that people had been swimming in pools that predate the enclosures that exist today. The nature of man made structures in contact with an exposed marine environment will always create maintenance issues, resulting in the need to repair or renew the structures over time. The Watsons Bay site provides evidence of the major construction or reconstruction phases in 1905, 1927, 1965 and 1975.

On 10th December 2010, the new Baths were officially open by the Mayor, Councillor Isabelle Shapiro. The Council spent more than $2 million renovating the historic harbour pool.

The upgrade is a significant historical event for the baths, which has been a popular swimming place for residents and visitors since 1905. The upgrade includes Australia's first all-ability water access ramp which opens the baths to all user groups, with the provision of two full immersible wheelchairs for public use. Other highlights include:

  • Installation of a new 50m lap pool with two floating turning board/ sunbathing pontoons;
  • Removal of the old central boardwalk and archways to allow for wider boardwalks and better views across the harbour;
  • Installation of new secure shark netting; and
  • Protection of the marine ecology environment by reducing the need to walk over the seagrasses. The pontoons provide a convenient entry and exit point into deeper water away from the seagrasses.

Swimming advice

  • No life saving services are provided
  • Beware of shallow water when diving