Sydney's best swimming spots - review by Rusty Compass
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Sydney's best swimming spots

| 03 May 2023
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Sydney's best swimming spots
03 May 2023

From classic Sydney suburban swimming pools to harbour gems - this is our list of Sydney's best places for a swim in a pool or a place well protected from waves and surf. These pools have been selected not just because they're amazing places to do some laps, but because they're in interesting, often beautiful settings, that will be just as rewarding as the swim. For beaches, check our guide to Sydney's beaches guide.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

I love swimming. For me it's a transcendent type of exercise. It removes me completely from the world around. And I always finish on a high.

When the weather allows, I try and swim every day. Somewhere.

I love the ocean best, but I'm very happy to spend time in Sydney's amazing suburban pools too. Sydney's public pools mostly date from the post-war period and they're a tribute to the public spirit of that time. They're a reminder too that for the most part, that public-spirited ethos has been lost in the age of neo-liberalism. So I have a strange reverence for public pools and the values they represent.

Some of Sydney's harbour and ocean pools represent the same egalitarian ideas - they're amazing public assets.

This is a list in development so keep an eye out! We focused on pools for this list.

We have a travel guide to Sydney's beaches here.

North Sydney Pool

North Sydney swimming pool is an excellent place to begin this new series. It Opened in 1936 in the shadow of both Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. It's in great visual company. It's a piece of outstanding art-deco pool design and was used in the Empire Games in 1938 and 1958.

Take a walk around the harbour in this area. You can take a closer look at Luna Park or head up to the picturesque streets and tasty eateries of Kiribilli.

You might even want to take the opportunity to walk across the harbour bridge and back into the city.


North Sydney Pool
Alfred St, Milson's Point

North Sydney Swimming Pool
Photo: Mark Bowyer North Sydney Swimming Pool


Boy Charlton Swimming Pool

Like North Sydney, Boy Charlton pool is another historic swimming spot. It was probably a bathing spot before Europeans arrived and it's the location of the very first European public bathing facility in Australia right back in the early 19th century. You can easily say that this is where Australia's obsession with swimming began.

The setting, right by Woolloomooloo Bay and the Botanic Gardens, is spectacular. Make a whole afternoon of a visit to this area. The New South Wales Art Gallery, Lady Macquarie's Chair and stunning Harbourside walks are all easily included in a visit to Boy Charlton.

Boy Charlton Swimming Pool
Mrs Macquarie's Road, Woolloomooloo Bay

Boy Charlton Pool, Woolloomooloo Bay, Sydney
Photo: Mark Bowyer Boy Charlton Pool, Woolloomooloo Bay, Sydney


Victoria Park swimming pool

Victoria Park swimming pool is a sentimental favourite as it's my local. I've been swimming here regularly for nearly two decades. I ride up from Stanmore and the ride takes me a along cute streets of Camperdown and through the Sydney University campus.

If you want to check out the area, Sydney University's campus is one of the most beautiful in the world. You can head up to the Main Quad. The brand new Chau Chak Wing Museum opened in late 2020 and is definitely work checking out if you like your museums.

Victoria Park Swimming Pool
Victoria Park, Broadway, Sydney

Victoria Park Swimming Pool
Photo: Mark Bowyer Victoria Park Swimming Pool

Camp Cove, Watson's Bay

Camp Cove is thought to be the first place Captain Arthur Phillip set up camp in Sydney Harbour in January 1788, before he headed to Sydney Cove and decided to make Sydney Harbour the location of his penal colony.

You can walk from Macquarie Lighthouse to South Head stopping for little swims as you go. You'll see historic lighthouses, military remnants that date back to the early 19th century, all while absorbing breathtaking views of the city and the harbour.

You can catch a ferry to Watson's Bay from Circular Quay. Camp Cove is a 10 minute walk. There are also regular buses to Watson's Bay. If you want to check out The Gap, the historic sites and South Head, allow at least half a day.

For more, check out the video and head over to our guide to Watson's Bay and Camp Cove

Camp Cove, Watson's Bay
Photo: Mark Bowyer Camp Cove, Watson's Bay




Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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