(Image created in August 2001. Author’s own collection.)
A rock pool located below Cronulla’s Shelly Park with its distinctive dressing pavilion. Linked to Cronulla’s other ocean pools by The Esplanade, a popular walking track.
Ewos Parade, Cronulla, NSW, 2230, Australia
(Latitude South 34 degrees 03 minutes 5 seconds, Longitude East 151 degrees 09 minutes 22 seconds)
Clans of the Dharawal people lived around North Cronulla and Cronulla Beach.
Surveyor Dixon used the term ‘Cronulla beaches’.
The railway reached Sutherland and the Cronulla area gained popularity as a picnic place.
The original landholders petitioned the government, asking among other things for the Shelly Park reserve to be extended and for a 10-foot reservation on the eastern side of the peninsula. (This reservation allowed the emergence of The Esplanade, one of Sydney’s best walks.)
This area of Cronulla was ‘notorious for mixed bathing’. Shelly Beach was acknowledged for its natural beauty and considered a suitable site for a ‘splendid swimming basin on similar lines to that on the north side of Coogee’. Residents constructed the initial pool that appeared on postcards.
Sutherland Shire was proclaimed in 1906.
A steam tram linked Sutherland and Cronulla in 1911.
Motor cars gave more people readier access to semi-rural Cronulla.
The formalised baths at Shelly Park were one of the many results of E. S. Spooner’s (NSW Minister for Works) unemployment scheme.
About 30 local residents voluntarily began removing stones from the swimming pool in readiness for the coming season. Council acquired a special lease for the pool from the Lands Board office for construction of rock baths in the beach reserve. Construction of the pool cost 1,300 pounds.
W. F. Foster successfully tendered for construction of the dressing-pavilion and conveniences, at a cost of 1,800 pounds.
Cronulla became the only Sydney beach with a railway station.
Cronulla’s low-rise holiday guest-houses were being replaced by high-rise flats.
In ‘The Year of the Disabled’, a ramp was added to provide wheelchair access to the pool, but sand build-up made this ineffective. Sutherland Shire considered extending the ramp, which would restrict access for most bathers or spending $6,000 to shift the ramp to the north side of the pool.
Rising public liability costs threatened the survival of all Cronulla’s tidal pools.
The South Cronulla rock pool’s need for repairs some five years after experiencing storm damage meant large crowds vied for swimming space at the Shelly Beach pool.
Shelly Beach had pollution problems.
Shelly Park was one of the cleanest NSW beaches according to the NSW EPA.
An assessment of the Shire’s ocean pools was identified as a necessary part of the ongoing management of its coastal assets.
This pool attracts year-round swimmers with a group of around fifty year-round daily swimmers constituting an informal swimming club.
The Shelly Beach Baths were praised as ‘one of our best pools’ in the Sydney Morning Herald‘s magazine, despite the barnacle encrusted pool walls and the shabby changing sheds. Mostly used by local lap swimmers, this pool’s appeal seemed to be based on it offering a greater sense of seclusion than Cronulla’s other tidal pools, its quiet setting (since the tram terminus at Shelly Park is long gone) with the park providing a buffer from the street and park picnickers and walkers on the Esplanade making little noise and of course the views out to sea and across Bate Bay.
The nearby Nuns Pool cafe was both a popular breakfast spot and a reminder that this pool (like the ladies pools at Coogee and Wollongong) was popular with the local nuns.