Swimming pools have long been a part of Australian culture, from the prosaic backyard pools to the art deco buildings that are now dotted across our cities and suburbs. While they may no longer be the rite of passage they once were, they are still a great place to spend time with family and friends. With their shady banks and cool water, they are perfect for summer fun.
But swimming pool designers have adapted the concept in recent times to reflect changing lifestyles. Some of these innovations have been downright controversial and others just simply beautiful.
Amid rising concern about the scourge of concrete cancer, and a shift in swimming pool priorities away from fun to fitness, diving platforms have been disappearing from suburban pools around Australia. “This has sort of happened without us really noticing, and all of a sudden you don’t have any pools with diving boards at all,” Sydney writer Therese Spruhan says.
Whether you’re just starting to consider installing your own pool or are a seasoned backyard swimmer, choosing the right swimming pool builder is essential. There are many NSW laws covering pool builders and swimming pools, so before any work begins it’s important to check that your builder is licensed and insured. If you’re spending more than $5,000, the building contractor needs to have a licence issued by NSW Fair Trading and be prepared to show it to you. The name on the licence must also match the name on your contract.
The Sydney CBD’s Fig Tree Baths, built in 1846, were Australia’s first official competitive swimming pools and have a strong association with the country’s sporting history. Today, the historic outdoor pool is a popular swimming spot and an important cultural site.
But the pool’s future is unclear after a last-ditch campaign to save it failed this week. If it closes, the city will have just Sydney Olympic Pool and Warringah Aquatic Centre as its public diving facilities.
Located in Cremorne Point, MacCallum Pool began life as a rock pool built by residents to serve as a safe harbour swimming hole. It was reconstructed in the 1920s and sits with stunning views over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
There are also many beautiful swimming pools in Sydney’s suburban areas. The iconic North Sydney Olympic Pool is a striking art deco pool, and the shady Maccallum and Carlton Bay pools are also popular spots for swimming in Sydney’s northern suburbs.
If you’re looking to install a pool in your backyard, the rules surrounding swimming pools are different in each NSW region. Talk to a local pool builder who understands the specific regulations in your area before beginning any work. In general, fencing must meet pool safety standards and be at least 1.2 metres high from the ground, with a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the pool. Additionally, if your pool is near any trees, you must check to see whether they are protected by preservation orders.