Bondi Baths is the most famous ocean pool in Australia due to its long history, its location next to Sydney's most famous beach,
and the dedicated swimmers known as the Bondi Icebergs who call it home. According to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the current
baths were opened in 1931 and replaced the baths that were originally built on this site in 1887. There are two pools at this cordoned off
complex: an Olympic sized (50 metre) lap pool for serious lap swimming, and a smaller 15 metre pool tucked in behind it, further
back from the waves, for a more relaxed swim.
Above: Bondi Baths with Bondi Beach in the background. Image source:
For anyone visiting from overseas, I would imagine a trip to Bondi Baths is on the to-do list. The views of the beach,
the dramatic waves crashing over the sea wall and the icebergs club house perched on the cliff all look idyllic. However the
reality is less inviting than other ocean pools along the New South Wales coastline, and somehow the charm of this
place feels like it has been replaced by a kind of exclusivity that comes from being too famous. This manifests itself in
the entrance fee (most ocean pools are free, but not this one), the celebrity pages (visits from Oprah, Prince Charles, etc.),
the functions, the restaurant, the corporate sponsorship by beer and wine companies, the live streaming pool cam, etc.
All this peacocking when all I wanted was a swim. I'm sure there are dedicated, long-term members of the Icebergs who would
disagree with me, and if you want to better understand the vibe of this place, joining the Icebergs is probably the best place
to start. If like me you want a swim with less sheen but fewer expectations, head around the headland to the ocean pool
at Bronte Baths
The pool is best for swimming at low tide, but the most fun and at its most spectacular at high tide. Near high
tide in rough seas, waves can crash over the edge of the pool.
Other Information Before You Go:
Notts Ave, Bondi Beach, New South Wales, 8 km (approx. 20 min drive) south-east of the Sydney CBD.
From the city head west along William Street and New South Head Road, then south along Ocean Street and
west again along Syd Einfeld Drive and Bondi Road. Parking in the area can be costly. By public transport
take bus 380 or 333 from Circular Quay, or a train to Bondi Junction and then catch the 380 or 333 bus to the beach.
Too numerous, so I'm sure I've missed something, but there are toilets, change rooms, a gym, a sauna, a
function room, a day spa, life preservers
Pool entry fees similar to a municipal pool. You can also pay a small fee to hire a towel if you need. Use
of the sauna is included in the entry fee.
Maximum water depth:
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Beginners at low tide, experienced at high tide when waves can crash over
the pool edge.
No swimming if the pool is closed due to dangerous surf conditions or for cleaning.
In the afternoon there is some shade on the water from the cliffs. No shade at other times in or
out of the water at the water's edge, but you can always retire to the cafe.
6.30 am to 6.30 pm weekends, 6am to 6.30pm weekdays, excluding Thursdays when the pool is closed for
cleaning. If tides and weather permit, staff re-open the pool on Thursdays after cleaning.
Wheelchair access to the pool deck
If you are staying overnight in the area you can try
accommodation in Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach for a surf or Bronte Baths
for a grittier but more
relaxed ocean pool.
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the pool.
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming spot, please fill in the comment box below.
I am particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.