Top 10 Spots to Make a Splash!January 28, 2021
From iconic pools and beautiful beaches, to hidden gems and family favourites, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great places to cool down.
1. Northbridge Baths
Accessed through the backstreets of Northbridge, and then on foot via a small bush track, locals all know why the Baths are often described as one of Sydney’s “hidden jewels”. This beautiful enclosed Harbour pool is a firm family favourite perfect for all ages, with a small sandy beach surrounded by our beautiful native bushland. It’s long been a local treasure with the pool first opening in 1924, according to the Willoughby Historical Society. The Baths were also classified by the National Trust in 1994. There are BBQ facilities, a picnic area, change rooms and toilets.
Good to Know: The Northbridge Swimming Club runs swimming races, squad training and fun family activities throughout summer – see the website for details: http://www.northbridgeswimming.com/
Address: Off Widgiewa Rd, Northbridge
2. Clifton Gardens
Much less busy than Balmoral but just as beautiful, Mosman’s Clifton Gardens is a Lower North Shore must-visit summer destination. Set around the beautiful blue waters of Chowder Bay, there’s so much to do for a family including an enclosed beachside kids’ playground, scooter and bike track, basketball court and one of the prettiest swimming, snorkelling and diving spots around (it’s also netted). If you feel like splashing out a little after the swim, try breakfast or lunch at Ripples, East Coast Lounge or Drift Cafe.
Good to Know: Just like Balmoral, parking is paid – weekends will set you back $5 per hour, or $18 for the day. There is unpaid parking further up the hill on Morella Rd.
Address: Morella Rd, Chowder Bay http://mosman.nsw.gov.au/recreation/parks-and-reserves#clifton-gardens
3. Balmoral Beach
With a beautiful children’s playground, netted beach and dining options that include everything from fish and chips, to the fabulous Boat Shed and Bather’s Pavilion, we’re truly lucky to have this as one of our closest beaches. People have been strolling the Promenade since 1924 (when it was completed as part of the Balmoral Beautification Scheme,) and the beautiful Rotunda is well known for weddings and concerts.
Good to Know: Mosman Council runs fantastic ‘Rockpool Rambles’ for families, where you’re taken on a free guided walk of the rockpools and introduced to some amazing marine life. These book out fast so put your name on the waitlist: http://events.mosman.nsw.gov.au/events/2077/rockpool-ramble
Address: The Esplanade, Balmoral http://www.theboathousebb.com.au
4. MacCallum Pool
Originally just a rock pool created by local residents (and a secret still guarded closely by them), it’s located on the western side of Cremorne Point. “A unique 33m harbourside pool with heritage character and superb views,” is how North Sydney Council describes it. “The architectural style of the current pool dates back to the 1920s and was restored in keeping with this heritage theme by Council in 1985-1986.” It also boasts a waterside timber deck for sun bathing.
Good to Know: Council keeps the pool in sparkling condition by emptying it, cleaning it and refilling it around once a week. See the website for closing times before going.
Address: Milson Rd, Cremorne Point https://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/Recreation_Facilities/Places_of_Interest/MacCallum_Pool
5. North Sydney Olympic Pool
Can you believe this is right on our doorstep?! Another local beauty with a great history, the North Sydney Olympic Pool opened its doors in 1936. With its art deco style, views of the Harbour Bridge and proximity to Luna Park, it’s no wonder this pool has become an Australian icon (and yet the tourists don’t seem to know about it). Its facilities include a 50-metre heated pool, gymnasium, sauna, spa, indoor 25-metre pool, children’s pool and cafe. Adult entry is $7.90 and kids’ entry: $3.80.
Good to Know: The pool is set for a huge upgrade with North Sydney Council currently considering six different options – including a giant water play structure for kids. The options can be viewed here: http://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/Projects_Infrastructure/Major_Projects_I/North_Sydney_Olympic_Pool_Consultation_Phase_2
Address: 4 Alfred St South, Milsons Point https://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/Recreation_Facilities/Pool_Lane_9_Gym/Olympic_Pool
6. Manly Surf n Slide
This water slide park opened at the beginning of the summer holidays, though many parents will remember it as the old Manly Waterworks, which has had a $100,000 upgrade. It currently consists of a large spectator viewing area and fully supervised giant slides, including the Twisted Cobra, the Slippery Python and the Insane Earthworm with a “blackened tube”. There are more plans in the pipeline, too, with four slides, a wakeboarding pool and a toddlers’ water zone on the cards for 2018. Entry is currently: $20 for one hour, $30 for two hours or $40 for a day pass. A family-of-four day pass is $140.
Good to Know: There’s no cafe yet, so grab a coffee before you arrive. Parking can be hard to find so check the website for bus and ferry information.
Address: Commonwealth Parade, Manly http://manlysurfnslide.com.au/
7. Darling Quarter Kids Playground
It’s such a brilliant playground for free entertainment, and there’s more than just one water play element to keep kids cool and happy. These include: The Pump Station with 26 water jets; The Water Scoop, which promises a total splash fest; The Water Screw with its scientific element; The Water Squirts where kids decide the ebb and flow of the Darling Quarter Water Works, and a new deeper water area for serious splashing. Take a towel and a change of clothes!
Good to Know: Websites like Secure Parking offer big discounts on parking if you pre-book online: http://www.secureparking.com.au/secure-a-spot. Or catch the ferry over and add to the day’s water fun: http://www.transportnsw.info/sites/en/maps-and-timetables/ferry-timetables.page
8. Putney Park
This has been highly recommended on WL during previous school holidays and it’s definitely worth the slightly longer distance for a morning or afternoon. The playground at the top has an excellent slide to begin with, then the water feature is further down and a bit of a hidden oasis. Once there you’ll find paddling pools for kids to splash about in and for littlies to explore. Bigger kids will love the tube slide – it’s fast and long.
Good to Know: If you walk even further down the track after drying off you’ll find another playground right next to the water with a huge climbing structure set in the sand. The kids will definitely sleep well after a day out here.
Address: 55 Pellsier Rd, Putney
9. Willoughby Leisure Centre
A great local place to cool off, with a tiny paddling pool for toddlers and a slippery dip and often inflatables for bigger kids. The Leisure Centre is also right next to netball courts, The Incinerator Cafe and newly renovated Hallstrom Park (with its awesome bike track). If you pack swimmers, the bikes/scooters and a ball you could spend all afternoon here and finish off with a well-earned G&T and early summer dinner.
Good to Know: The Leisure Centre’s cafe is closed for lunch and opens at 3.30pm. The inflatables are for children aged 5-12 who can swim 2 metres.
Address: Small Street, Willoughby http://willoughbyleisure.com.au/
10. Ryde Leisure Centre
It’s only 20 minutes away and well worth the trip – what a water playland for families! Littlies will love the adorable duck splash pool, while bigger kids can choose from the huge water slide, the wave pool, the two whirlpools, the inflatables, or they can try their skills on the Surf Ryder (an undercover surf simulator) outside. Highly recommended.
Good to Know: It gets busy, so arrive early if you can. The Giant Slide is open from 10am-5pm, the Wave Pool operates between 12.15pm-4.40pm, and bookings are recommended for the Surf Ryder.
Address: 504 Victoria Road, Ryde http://www.ryde.nsw.gov.au/RALC
With thanks to: Northbridge Swim Club, North Sydney Council, Willoughby City Council and Peter Glass & Associates (Landscape Architects, Pool Designers and Environmental Planners for the Putney Park project) for their great images.
*Due to COVID restrictions, please check with all venues prior to visiting if they require booking or if they have restricted access in place.