This is the heritage listed Dawn Fraser Baths located on the harbour near Elkington Park on the western side of the Balmain Peninsula.
Constructed in 1882, these baths are said to be the oldest in Australia. It boasts to be home to Balmain Swimming Club, the country’s first Swimming Association and is also believed to be the location of Australia’s Water Polo match. In the early days it was only open to men during the daylight with women having access at limited times.
The baths are enclosed within a large timber structure which includes a tiered stand for spectators to watch events within the complex. The pool itself is not an even square with the southern side forming a curve which follows the shoreline. At low tide this also forms a small sandy beach where kids (big or small) are able to build sandcastles. There’s not many inner west suburbs that can boast their own beach!
Over the years the baths have seen several alterations or developments including the addition of a manager’s cottage just up the hill (1904), enlargements of the original pool and the seating gallery being installed in the 60s.
In 1964 the pool was named in honour of Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser. Dawn Fraser was a champion at three consecutive Olympic games and learned to swim at these baths in her childhood as a part of the Leichhardt-Balmain League of Swimmers. She also spent two seasons with Balmain Ladies Club.
An iconic Sydney location named after an iconic Australian. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area and feel like a fresh salt water dip.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.