Travelling up and down the Pacific Highway over the past three weeks we visited a number of pools. First stop was the ocean baths at Black Head about 235 kilometres north of Sydney.
NSW is blessed with 100 ocean baths but there are only five north of Newcastle. There used to be six but I will tell the story of that pool another time. As well as Black Head, the surviving ones are Forster Ocean Baths, Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool, Yamba Ocean Baths and Shelly Beach Wading Pool at Ballina.
The Black Head Pool is the second oldest of the five north coast ocean baths. It was opened on Boxing Day 1941, five years after the Forster pool came into existence. The Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool was opened in 1962 and the Yamba Baths in 1969. I couldn’t find a date for the rock pool at Ballina’s Shelly Beach.
But back to the Black Head Pool. It was very popular with the locals when it opened but with many away serving in World War Two it fell into disrepair. At one stage local fishermen used the pool for a lobster pen as the bottom filled up with seaweed and oysters covered the sides. Fortunately when the war was over members of the Black Head Surf Club and local volunteers cleaned and renovated the pool. They also modified the wading pool and built the footpath and concrete surrounds.
In 2005, Greater Taree Council reconstructed the wall separating the wading pool and larger pool and resurfaced part of the walkway and steps. Two years later, with funds raised from the community and a donation from Dr Billie Greening, Taree Council completely renovated the pool.
We had two swims in the 100 feet long (just over 30 metres) by 30 feet wide pool when we stayed at Diamond Head nearby with keen long boarders’ Graham and Denise. We enjoyed our first dip but our second swim was even better thanks to ‘Dad’s Army’. ‘Dad’s Army’ is a local volunteer group that empty, sweep, hose and refill the pool at low tide every second Thursday.
The second time we swam at the pool it had been cleaned that morning and the water was crystal clear. Late afternoon when we visited it was peak hour with locals and visitors enjoying a dip.
A woman I chatted to had that day recommenced her swimming routine and was pleased to have completed 14 laps. Another local told me she loved to float on her back and watch the sea eagles soar above the pool.
It was great to be back in salt water again and a nice start to our journey to Brisbane. Thanks to Graham and Denise for their wonderful hospitality.