(Image taken on 23 June 2003. Authors’s own collection)
Located south of the Ulladulla breakwater, this is a full-size 1950s Olympic pool of formed painted concrete with marked lanes, rather than a classic ocean pool cut into the rock platform.
Plans of Ulladulla harbour show a quarry adjacent to the site of the current ocean pool. The apparent remnants of an older pool next to the current ocean pool are probably the remains of this 1895 quarry.
The port of Ulladulla shipped people, maize, potatoes, onions, butter, bacon, cheese, fowls, honey and pigs to and from the rich farming areas around Narrawallee and Croobyar creeks and the township of Milton
Work began on the construction of the ocean baths as a full-size Olympic pool, with lane markings. When completed, the pool did not fill with wave and tide action, so a pump was used to fill it.
Ulladulla’s popular camping spots around Millard’s cottage and opposite Ulladulla harbour were free of charge in the 1950s.
As Canberra’s population grew, increasing numbers of Canberra residents holidayed around Ulladulla and Mollymook.
On reviewing a regional environment study (including the ocean pool), consultants concluded the pool might have regional significance.
Shoalhaven City Council’s Heritage Study rated the rock pool as high on historical and social aspects and moderate on aesthetic and social significance.
The Ulladulla Harbour Conservation Management Plan, noted that ‘to the south of the working port, there is a separate rectangular shaped ‘rockpool’ enclosure’ near the ‘modern rendered pool set above the high watermark, set on a base constructed from cut stone pieces’.
The pool operated unsupervised until Shoalhaven City Council’s risk consultants warned in December 2001 against continuing to operate the pool without supervision.
The Ulladulla Leisure Centre had superseded the ocean baths as Ulladulla’s best swimming competition and training venue. Even so, there was resident uproar when the ocean pool was closed for a week in February, after Shoalhaven City Council ran out of funds to employ a lifeguard.
The Ulladulla sea pool had a consistent four-star Beachwatch rating for cleanliness, meaning it was not contaminated and was safe to swim in.
Storm damage meant simply making the pool safe for the next season was estimated to cost $43,000, while the cost of a completely new structure was estimated as around $700,000. Cr Watson said Shoalhaven City Council staff were investigating whether an insurance claim could be made against the year’s storm damage, but conceded that even if the pool was saved, it was likely that the Council would have to levy an entrance fee. About 150 people a day used this free-to-use pool during the summer.
The pool was fully supervised in the 2005/2006 swimming season.
Ulladulla remained an important fishing port as well as a summer holiday resort and tourist area, attracting visitors from Sydney, Canberra and further afield. It still offered caravan parks as well other holiday accommodation.