(Image taken in December 2001 prior to the recent renovation. Author’s own collection.)
(Previously known as The Entrance Ocean Baths, Fred Lewis Pool, Roberts Pool)
Heritage-listed outdoor complex of three ocean pools on Ocean Parade at the southern end of the beach between The Entrance surf beach and Blue Bay.
The Entrance Ocean Pool, The Entrance North, NSW, 2261, Australia
(Latitude South 33 degrees 21 minutes 01 seconds, Longitude East 151 degrees 30 minutes 14 seconds)
Aboriginal people may have used the baths site as a fish trap.
A Naval man, Bob Roberts, bought a property overlooking an area where thousands of swallows nested on the cliff face. Having noted that the nearby beach was rocky and highly dangerous for children and other swimmers, Roberts then cleared rocks from the beach to create a safe swimming pool, later known as Roberts’ pool.
Erina Shire constructed a 50-metre, seven-lane Olympic-size pool at a cost of £425. near the site of the earlier tidal rock pool. This pool filled with tidal water and emptied through a channel at the southern end became a focal point for community recreation, swimming education and competition.
A toilet, change-rooms, pumping station and pipeline were added to the pool.
The baths and their dressing-shed were one of the assets that Erina Shire transferred to Wyong Shire.
The Entrance Amateur Swimming Club was established on 10 July, with Fred Lewis as the inaugural President.
1954 to 1956
During the 1954 and 1955 August school holidays, swimming coach Harry Gallagher brought a group of 40 swimmers from Drummoyne to The Entrance baths. That group included Dawn Fraser, Jon Henricks and Mel Swanson, who were all training for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
More construction work on the pool complex with addition of a baby wading pool and a medium-sized pool known as the ‘Fred Lewis’ Pool.
The Tuggerah Tuffs Winter Swimming Club formed.
Construction of an Olympic pool at Wyong meant students at the Wyong High School were no longer bused to The Entrance for swimming classes.
The pipeline was enlarged, the pool floor renewed and concourse constructed.
Minor pump upgrading and reticulation works were completed at the pool.
Wyong Council considered charging entry fees or closing this pool due to rising public liability costs. On 4 August, at the pool deck of The Entrance Ocean Baths, a community petition was launched, in association with The Entrance Amateur Swimming Club and the Tuggerah Tuffs Winter Swimming Club, to heritage list The Entrance Ocean Baths and protect them for future local families. There was overwhelming community concern for the future of this local icon and extraordinary public support for the campaign to protect and preserve the pools.
The Tuggerah Tuffs Winter Swimming Club regularly set up a campaign table at the Lakeside Plaza at The Entrance to collect signatures from the local community. Similarly, The Entrance Amateur Swimming Club did the same at Bateau Bay village. The many businesses that assisted with collecting signatures for the petition included the Surf Cafe, The Entrance Cinema, Cafe Macaw and The Entrance Book Exchange. In one month, community activists collected more than 9,000 signatures and were looking at the collection of 10,000 signatures in just five weeks. With assistance from the MP for The Entrance, Grant McBride, the petition gained more than 11,000 signatures. McBride said generations of local families and holiday-makers had learnt to swim or taken their first stroke in the baths.
The Entrance Amateur Swimming Club and The Entrance Ocean Baths provided free swimming lessons during summer to both local residents and tourists.
The pool received heritage listing and Premier Bob Carr visited the Entrance and pledged $330,000 in state funding for the baths. Wyong Shire and community groups had to find the balance of the estimated $726,000 needed for new concrete lining of the baths, a new pumping system, a renewed concrete concourse, improved access for the disabled and a repainted pool surface.
In the Golden Jubilee year for The Entrance Amateur Swimming Club Wyong Shire accepted the NSW Department of Sport and Recreation grant of $330,000 for upgrading the Ocean Baths and sent a letter of recognition to the Trustees of the Ocean Baths and the member for The Entrance. Council was contributing $100,000 for the upgrade.
The Tuggerah Tuffs Winter Swimming Club won the Northern Districts Winter Swimming Championships at Port Macquarie.
The pool normally stays open all year but is supervised only from 6am to 7pm from Monday to Sunday in summer and 7am to 1pm in Winter. In 2004, the pool closed over winter to allow large areas of concrete to be replaced as part of the $650,000 overhaul, which included repainting the walls of the baths and installing powerful new pumps to improve water quality. Cost contributions included $330,000 from the NSW government, $240,000 from Wyong Council and $90,000 from the baths community trust.
Premier Bob Carr opened the upgraded baths mid-year on his last day as Premier of New South Wales.
Members of The Entrance Amateur Swimming Club travelled to Sydney’s Collaroy Rock Pool for their annual February competition with the Collaroy Swim Club The venue for this annual event alternates between the home pools for these two clubs.
Renamed the Grant McBride Baths in honour of the late Grant McBride, State Member for The Entrance from 1992-2011, and his efforts to protect and sustain the Baths.
The Baths reopened in July having undergone extensive maintenance during its enforced closure due to COVID-19.