In the ongoing saga of discovering Sydney’s Ocean and Harbour pools the 2 Mrs G’s ventured to Wylie’s baths on the southern end of Coogee Beach. Despite growing up in Coogee Mrs G had never been to Wylie’s.
We were having an adventure in our own backyard. Each pool we discover is an enlightening and exciting experience. I guess, it doesn’t take much to excite us nowadays. As you can see it is absolutely gorgeous, you feel like you are sitting on top of the water. There are expansive views across the ocean to wedding cake island which one day we will swim out to in our ocean swimming quest which is another tale of the 2 great Mrs G’s.
There is lots of shade for us older more sun conscious bathing beauties but still plenty of room for the sunworshippers. The pool has an authentic rock bottom unlike us. Getting in is not hard for youngsters and oldies alike with handrails on the stairs. Unfortunately the few times we have been there we have been plagued by blue bottles. Our distress was slightly relieved when the tall, handsome, shirtless lifeguard came to our rescue with a net to fish to out the beastly blue bottles, we wasted no time in volunteering our services to assist him ( still don’t think he was interested in 2 middle aged women but hey you can try).We were then approached by a serious young German tourist earnestly doing his laps with his paddles, earplugs, goggles, cap etc wanting to know what all the commotion was about. We explained the Aussie plague of blue bottles and that they only kill tourists not hard core Aussies like us but he has a few seconds before fate hits him. At first he wasn’t sure whether to believe us or not but we figured he thought we were crazy as he diligently continued his laps.
We had a lovely morning soaking up the atmosphere and feeling we had gone back in time leaving our worries behind.
The Baths are open everyday of the year however the times vary
Daylight Saving Time: 7am – 7pm
Standard Time: 7am – 5pm
Adults entry fee is $3.00 whether you are swimming or not. This goes towards pool maintenance, a 12 month pass is available.
Note it is a kiosk not a café so don’t expect gourmet food. They do serve espresso coffee but had no decaffeinated. They also had run out of most sandwiches when we were there and it was only 1pm, I have to tell you we were disappointed. There really wasn’t much choice in the food. They also sell a range of swimming accessories including caps, goggles, bathers and sun screen and of course Wylies merchandise. Wylies seems to have a cult following as it has a colourful history.
Toilets and Showers
Loved the décor of the toilets and showers. So quaint. The showers are solar powered and it costs 20c for hot water but well worth it. You gotta go just for the showers.
Wylie’s has a real old fashioned feel to the place. You feel like you are stepping back a hundred years. The reason is it basically hasn’t changed since it was established in 1907 as the first private enterprise mixed gender bathing pool in Sydney by Henry Alexander Wylie, a champion long distance and underwater swimmer. Henry’s daughter, Wilhelmina, and Fanny Durack, were Australia’s first two female Olympic swimmers. We can proudly say that the first gold and silver swimming medals for a women’s event in the history of the Olympics went to Durack and Wylie respectively.
Reading the history I now know why I never went there, when I grew up in the mid seventies storms and high seas damaged the baths, resulting in their temporary closure. In 1978 they were reopened under the control of Randwick Council and renamed Wylies Baths.
Wylies Baths has been classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW Division).
For a full written and pictorial history of Wylies Baths, you can purchase “A Century of Wylies Baths Coogee” from the kiosk.
Individual learn to swim and coaching lessons by qualified instructors are available by appointment.
Massage by the Sea: Weekdays 11am – sunset. Weekends 10am – sunset
Definitely worth a visit but beware there may be blue bottles. For an enlightening and light hearted look at what can happen check out Richard Roxburgh’s account of his misadventures with bluebottles at Wylies!