Australia – Queensland
An ocean pool developed by entrepreneur Jack Evans at Snapper Rocks on Queensland’s Gold Coast as a pay-to-swim pool for humans became the famous 1950s tourist attraction known as the Jack Evans Porpoise Pool. After storms washed the porpoises (dolphins) out of the pool, this tourist attraction was relocated to a New South Wales site that made no use of ocean pools.
Australia – New South Wales
As barbed wire and tank traps were removed from post-war surf beaches, the floodlights were again turned on at the ocean pools. Beaches and public pools were significant as safe, affordable, readily accessible, convivial public places amid the post-war housing shortage and the rationing of petrol that continued until early 1950. Although beaches in Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney were shark-meshed from 1949, demand for patrolled beaches and ocean pools remained evident in NSW both within and outside the shark-meshed areas.
Post-war migration brought Hungarian migrants and a new style of water polo to the Bronte Baths. Newcastle’s Greek Orthodox and Macedonian Orthodox communities used the Newcastle Bogey Hole for their Epiphany ceremonies.
Australia’s team for the 1948 Olympics included swimmers from the Palm Beach Amateur Swimming Club and water polo players from the Bondi Amateur Swimming Club. Australian swimming successes at the Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo Olympics fuelled enthusiasm for competitive swimming. With strong support from local swimming clubs and schools, many existing ocean pools were modified to produce competition pools of Olympic length. New ocean pools included the Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool and the Yamba pool on the North Coast, the Copacabana and MacMasters Beach ocean pools on the Central Coast, the Bellambi pool and the Towradgi Olympic pool in the Illawarra and a fourth ocean pool added to Coogee Bay by Sydney’s Randwick Council using funds it received as Commonwealth Government compensation for war-time damage to its beaches.
Even after NSW Amateur Swimming Association permitted gender-segregated amateur swimming clubs to amalgamate, ladies clubs persisted at Coogee’s McIvers Baths leased and operated by the Randwick and Coogee Ladies Club and at the Narrabeen and Dee Why ocean pools on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Isabel Letham and the ladies swimming clubs at the Freshwater and Dee Why ocean pools nurtured the sport of synchronised swimming.
By the 1960s, ocean pools at Sydney’s Eastern Beaches hosted a set of men’s winter swimming clubs that included the Bondi Icebergs, Bronte Splashers, Coogee Penguins, Clovelly Eskimos, Maroubra Seals and South Maroubra Dolphins. Sydney’s Northern Beaches had the Cool Cats winter swimming club at the North Curl Curl pool and the Collaroy Crabs winter swimming club at the Collaroy pool. The Tuggerah Tuffs winter swimming club swam at The Entrance Ocean Baths on the NSW Central Coast. The Illawarra’s ocean pools hosted the Wollongong Whales, the Brass Monkeys (later known as Bulli Park Sea Lions), Austinmer Otters, Corrimal Marlins and the Coledale Oysters.
Ocean pools at Collaroy and Narrabeen were clearly regarded as safe and pleasurable environments by both the organisers and the participants in the NSW Aboriginal Welfare Board’s Christmas Camps that brought Aboriginal children from inland NSW to Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the 1950s and 1960s. Surfers, scuba divers and open-water swimmers also valued ocean pools as convenient ways to enter and exit the open sea.
Pollution of coastal waters resulting from the combination of poor sewage treatment and increased coastal population meant chlorinated freshwater pools began to seem more appealing than ocean pools. Many new inground public pools were funded and constructed as war memorials and hotels, motels and caravan parks constructed their own inground, freshwater swimming pools. While the few long-established pay-to-swim ocean pools such as Wylies Baths or the Bondi Baths charged no more admission than the newer chlorinated and supervised public pools, most ocean pools remained free of entry barriers and admission charges and accessible at all hours.
By the late-1960s, an ocean pool was no longer automatically regarded as a sign of progress or as an enhancement to the rocky shore. Proposals to enlarge the ocean pool at Avoca Beach on the Central Coast generated little support and objections to the enlarged pool as a potential threat to human safety, recreational fishing, tourism, coastal aesthetics and private property. To this day, the Avoca Beach pool remains a simple ring-of-rocks bathing pool.