Much to the delight of the local community, the Watsons Bay Baths, in 2010, have undergone a gentle facelift. Woollahra Council appointed architects Kieran McInerney and d-Construct and have spent $2million to renovate this popular swimming spot.
Watsons Bay has been a popular place to swim for a long time, and one of the first known swimming spots, was at Laing Point. Around 1888 two local men, Jack Graham, and Reg Norton, cut out a pool from the rock and it was named the “Bogie Hole”. In 1895 this crude sea pool was actually enlarged by the Council, and the excavations can still be seen today at Laing Point.
In the 1900’s the Sydney Harbour Trust approved the construction of pools in many places on the foreshores of the harbour, and Vaucluse Council built the Watsons Bay Baths in 1905. There are records showing that the baths were rebuilt in 1928, and had a widened section added in the late 1940’s.
On 10th December, 2010 the Baths latest renovation was completed, and they were officially opened by Maryor, Councillor Isabelle Shapiro.
A wheelchair accessible ramp, gangway and pontoon provide well thought out access to the tidal sea pool for all swimmers, including small children, and those with disabilities. There’s even a new secure shark netting to provide peace of mind whilst swimming.
The baths have long been home to a small colony of White’s seahorses which had to be temporarily relocated by scuba diver Dave Thomas during the upgrade. Apparently the seahorses are gradually returning to the nets where they hang off and wait for food to swim by!
To crown off the new design, Woollahra Council also commissioned Clary Akon to create a public artwork at the Baths, that captured the essence and character of Watsons Bay. Having been brought up in the area, Clary’s childhood provided the inspiration that was needed. He collaborated with Juan Pablo Pinto to create an underwater themed frieze along one wall of the pool. As the tide ebbs and flows, the phosphor bronze shapes of fish and seaweed are slowly revealed then disappear again. Tidescape was completed in 2011.