Australia – New South Wales
Until late-1941, the impact of World War II on the ocean pools was minimal and similar to that of World War I. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941 and the fall of Singapore in 1942, all of Australia was placed on a war footing. Fears of a Japanese invasion prompted the installation of barbed wire and tank traps on surf beaches often impeding access to ocean pools. Unlike the northern Australia, New South Wales was not bombed from the air. Japanese submarines did, however, shell Sydney and Newcastle, with one shell landing near the Newcastle Ocean Baths.
Ocean pools completed during the war years included the massive Olympic pool at Kiama and the Mid-North coast’s more modest pool at Black Head, where the 1942 opening race was between the Black Head, Taree-Old Bar and Tuncurry surf lifesaving clubs. This pool was one of the many that fell into disrepair during the war years.
Coastal tourism and use of ocean pools declined during the war years due to petrol rationing, restrictions on travel and people’s other wartime commitments. Ocean pools and other public pools managed to retain some glamour and excitement thanks to school swimming competitions, carnivals for scouts and guides, learn-to-swim programs, fundraising events and service carnivals. Ocean pools in Newcastle, the Mid-North coast, Sydney, and the Illawarra were patronised by foreign servicemen and women stationed in Australia, as well as by local residents.