Swimming Places Around Sydney

Places to swim
Olympic pools
Swimming in Fresh Water
Surf beaches
Harbour pools
Rock pools
Unclad beaches

Many tourists die by drowning in Australia each year. With just a little bit of care, you need not be one of the casualties. The main trick is to be careful about alcohol, and careful about general safety. Forget the sharks, they are a much smaller risk. There are no crocodiles: if you die, it will be because you drown.

Places to swim

The "official" swimming season is from early October through until March, but you will find plenty who swim outside that period, and some who swim right through the year. If you are used to European or North American swimming conditions, then you may be quite happy swimming in our winter.

Most beaches are now likely to be at least partly topless, although there seems to have been an unwritten rule that tops are put on when walking or swimming. There are a few officially approved nude beaches, and other secluded beaches where nudity is common, but nudity at the beach is generally frowned on. Because of this taboo on nudity, you will find that most beaches have changing rooms where you may put on your swimming costume free from the gaze (either admiring or horrified) of the opposite sex. Stripping off or changing on the beach, even wrapped in a towel, generally isn't "done", though you will see it happen.

There is often a charge for using these changing rooms, and some may have lockers for valuables. Don't leave money or valuables in a changing room. Better still, don't take money or valuables to the beach: there are always thieves about.

Most drowning events are alcohol-related: if you have eaten well, and drunk deep, dabble in the shallows. Remember: They also surf who only stand and wade . . . You are less likely to be killed by a shark than you are to be killed by lightning, but drowning is far more likely (the statistics will be found elsewhere.

Act sensibly, and you will be safe! If you swim in a meshed pool, the risk of shark attack drops to zero, and the risk of drowning is also reduced, as there is a greater chance of your difficulties being noticed. Not that this is a perfect guarantee. There are always idiots who scream "help!" for no good reason, but if you go under the surface while making "glub glub" noises, somebody will generally do something to assist you. You may need to ask, though, for Sydneysiders just assume that everybody can swim.

The next question, then, is where to find a pool to swim in. Most street directories will have, somewhere in their contents, a list of swimming pool locations. If that doesn't work, try looking closely at the map of the area where you are staying: the pools are usually marked, but some of the harbour pools can be closed on account of pollution after heavy rain.

If looking at a map does not work, ask somebody: most locals will be able to tell you where the nearest swimming pool is. Near the city, ask about Prince Alfred Park (9319 7045), North Sydney, the Cook and Phillip Park (9326 0444), Victoria Park and the Domain (Andrew Charlton), 9358 6686) pools. But be warned: swimming pools are of three kinds: the tiled and chlorinated things that people go to when they want to swim in races or laps (see Olympic pools), rock pools by the sea which fill up at high tide (see Rock Pools), and meshed pools by the sea which have more water at high tide than at low tide (Harbour Pools).

There are two high and low tides each day in Sydney, about six hours apart, and at least some of the tide times will be given each day, both in the newspapers and in the TV weather news at night. The tides the next day will be about one hour later, and the maximum tidal variation is about two metres, with 1.2 metres more normal. Tide information is available at http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/tides/MAPS/sydney.shtml

The first two varieties of pool are usually available all the year around, although the local councils may put up signs saying that the rock pools are closed in winter. This only means that the council has not cleaned the pool, and does not want to be sued for damages if you fall over on some slippery weed. In other words, you swim entirely at your own risk. The tiled Olympic pools are often heated in winter, so that they are usable the whole year round, while tough types swim in the sea right through winter. But not in the meshed pools, for many of these pools have the mesh removed in winter to save it from storm damage.

The item of clothing that you wear into the water is officially called a swimming costume, but may also be referred to as "cossies", "swimmers", "togs", and sometimes even as "bathers". These terms are common all over Australia, but there will usually be one preferred local usage, though all terms are understood, across Australia. If you don't own any "swimmers", most chain stores carry them, and there are specialist shops in most beachside suburbs. Be warned, though, that these stores often carry "fashion" lines that are more expensive. The cheap versions are made of stretchy material, and will fit just about anybody.

Wherever you go, you will need a towel, preferably a large one: you can get those in the same chain stores rather more cheaply than in the souvenir shops: it depends what you want from your towel, a useful item, a souvenir, or both. If you still want to go to the beach after all those warnings, you have the choice of surf beaches or still-water salt pools. These pools are usually meshed harbour pools, or standard Sydney rock pools built near sheltered parts of surf beaches.

A number of sea pools have been listed here in one guise or another, among them Balmoral and Parsley Bay, while others (Manly, Fairlight and Forty Baskets) rate a mention tied in to the Spit-Manly Walk, but there are plenty more.

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Surf beaches

Bondi
Collaroy
Coogee
Cronulla
Dee Why
Maroubra
Palm Beach
Queenscliff
Manly
Mona Vale
Narrabeen
Newport

There are no real opening and closing times, but only an idiot or an expert would swim at a surf beach when the flags have been taken down. Each surf beach along the coast is patrolled by members of the local surf club at weekends, while weekdays see a limited service supplied, mostly by paid lifeguards, and the flags indicate that the patrol is active. The volunteers are called lifesavers: their services come free of charge, but their equipment is expensive: donations are welcome, especially from those they have helped. There is no compulsion, but your offer won't embarrass anybody.

One of the main services supplied by the surf patrols is the placement of flags. These are red and yellow, and the area between them is the safest part of the beach to swim on. They also mark the part of the beach that is best patrolled. If you don't know what these are, or where to look for them, you should not be swimming there. Ask somebody for advice, or read safe swimming. As a general rule, the flags go up at 0900 (9am) and come down at 1800 (6pm). Lifesavers and lifeguards will also help you with minor first aid, such as bluebottle stings.

Lifesavers look like this when they are on patrol. Lifesavers on patrol at Maroubra. A surf lifesaving club, in this case, at Maroubra.
Pictures above, from left to right:

If you see a large, sun-tanned person in yellow and red clothing, blowing a whistle, this is a lifesaver telling somebody to get back inside the flags. It may be you who is being told: please check the flags! Outside of the flags, a "rip" can sometimes develop. This is a current, flowing out to sea, and it can be quite strong. The rip is formed when waves wash in, and then swing either left or right along the beach: where two of these sideways currents meet, the water has nowhere to go but back out to sea again, forming a rip.

You can generally see rips quite clearly when you are above the beach, because there is a deeper channel at that point, while the waves break differently, and there is nobody swimming there, but there will often be one or more people fishing "in the gutter" with rods. The give-away warning of a rip when you are in the water is the cross-beach current. If you are being carried parallel to the beach, you are probably on your way to the rip. If you are, that is when you will hear people blowing whistles at you.

If you do get in a rip, it is a very narrow channel: swim parallel to the beach until you are clear of the rip, and then swim in to the shore. Never try to swim against the current. If you can swim no more, conserve your energy, tread water, or float on your back, and raise one arm above your head, holding it up for as long as you can, rest, then hold it up again. All locals know this signal, and help will soon be on its way, either from the patrol, or from a board-rider.

If you are totally unlucky, relax, try to float on your back, and watch out for patrolling planes and/or helicopters. They can be there faster than you think. Sharks are less of a worry than most people think, since they are trapped by mesh nets some distance out off all the major Sydney beaches. Just now and then, one will slip through. If one is sighted by a plane or helicopter, you will be able to tell by the unusual behaviour of the aircraft, and then by the alarm bells. Don't panic, just swim quietly to shore.

The Northern Beaches

North of Sydney Harbour, along the coastal fringe, there are three local government areas, Manly Municipality, and Warringah and Pittwater Shires. Manly runs to three surf beaches, largely because they divide their one bay into three different parts (see Manly Beach).

Warringah Shire and Pittwater have a dozen beaches, or more if you count the sub-divided bays up as they do in Manly - in general, there are as many "beaches" as there are surf clubs. These beaches vary from the safe family beaches to the treacherous, but which is which depends at least partly on wind and sea conditions: look at the surf before you decide, or ask the lifesavers about the conditions. They will have to rescue if you get into trouble, so they will answer you honestly.

The beaches further up the coast have a particular attraction to the fastidious: they are largely free of sewage pollution. Sydney is a large city, and the sewage of some four million people is merely pumped out into the sea at a number of points far out to sea, but you may still prefer to swim at a beach far from a sewage outfall. If that is your preference, then the beaches at the northern end of Warringah Shire are for you.

The 139 bus will take you from Manly Wharf past the Manly beaches to Freshwater (Harbord) and Curl Curl. The 136 bus will carry you past Queenscliff to Curl Curl and Dee Why- it goes on to Chatswood Station, so you can catch this bus from there as well, while the 155 bus is good for Long Reef, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Warriewood and Mona Vale. In most cases, you will have a bit of a walk from the bus: ask the driver in a clear voice, and the other passengers will usually tell you the best stop to get off at.

The buses from Wynyard with route numbers in the higher 180s serve the beaches from Long Reef to Bilgola, and the limited stops 190 bus serves the beaches from Narrabeen to Palm Beach. If you are driving, follow the road signs to the HARBOUR BRIDGE, MANLY, BROOKVALE and MONA VALE until you get to where you want to be. (if you are heading towards the northern end, try to take Mona Vale Road to avoid traffic and lights.

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Palm Beach

Getting there

You can drive there, or you can catch a
Route 190 bus from Central Railway or Wynyard. It is often hard to catch the 190 bus along the way, as it generally only picks up passengers at a limited number of stops, so aim to begin at Wynyard if you can (Central is better), or catch another bus to Narrabeen, and transfer there.

In summer, the Palm Beach end of the trip can be slow and sweaty, so sit on the left-hand side in the morning, or the right-hand side in the afternoon. Coming back, it's right hand side in the morning, left in the afternoon. Driving is easy, and parking is usually available, except at weekends, when you need to be early. There is usually a parking attendant on duty, collecting parking fees. People who live in Pittwater Shire, and those with season tickets get in free: other people have to pay for the privilege.

What to do there

Swim, look at the fancy houses, have a meal, wander along the surf beach, or hike up to the lighthouse on top of Barrenjoey.

What else is around

You can take a ferry ride around Pittwater, or picnic at The Basin, there are plenty of other beaches along the Northern Beaches, there are sea-plane joy-rides are available on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach, and Kuring-gai Chase National Park is close by for those with cars. For those without cars, it is just a ferry ride away, over the water.

Newport

Mona Vale

Narrabeen

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Collaroy

Collaroy takes its name from the wreck, of the S. S. Collaroy, which happened on the beach.

Dee Why

To get there, catch a
136 bus from Manly Wharf or Chatswood station. There is a good surf, excellent food and drink just over the road, and a nice walk up to Long Reef at the north, but please stay off the sand dunes! Dee Why Lagoon, behind the beach, is good for bird life.

Why Dee Why? There are assorted folk etymologies, but I don't trust any off them.

Queenscliff

Queenscliff is the northern end of the Manly bay, and it is not a good place to swim after rain, as there is a large lagoon at the back which is fairly polluted. When there has been no rain, it is an excellent place to swim. There is a rock pool at the northern end. Walk there from Manly, either along the walkway or along the sand, or catch a 136 bus or a 139 bus.

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Manly

Manly surf beach, near North Steyne, on a rough day when the beach was closed.  Part of North Head and St Patrick's visible in the background, also the Shelly Beach area. Manly surf beach, near North Steyne, on a rough day when the beach was closed. Pictures: Manly surf beach, near North Steyne, on a rough day when the beach was closed, looking north-east; and Manly surf beach, near North Steyne, on the same day, looking south-east. Part of North Head and St Patrick's visible in the background, also the Shelly Beach area.

The first thing to note is that there is more than one "Manly Beach". There is the meshed harbour beach near the ferry wharf, safe from sharks and boats, with the biggest waves coming when a speedboat goes by. Then there is the surf beach that is properly called South Steyne, and North Steyne and Queenscliff, all in the one ocean bay. And then there are Shelly Beach, Fairlight and Forty Baskets, all mentioned elswhere.

To get to Manly, catch a the Manly ferry from Circular Quay, or a the Manly jetcat if you are in a hurry, or you can drive there. Get to the Harbour Bridge, cross over, then follow the "Manly" signs through many shops to Spit Junction, north down over the Spit Bridge, up the other side and then east to Manly.

There are no direct day-time buses from the city to Manly: you need a Wynyard bus to Balgowlah shops, where you can change to a 143 bus to Manly, or you can take a train to St Leonards, and catch the 144 bus there. Why bother? The ferry is nicer!

Manly historical societies like to point out that Manly was named ahead of Sydney, since Phillip explored the Manly side of the harbour first. Manly was served by ferries from about the eighteen fifties on, and later was served by a punt at the SPIT, and later by the Spit Bridge.

The surf beach at Manly was the scene of the first legal daylight bathing in Sydney, when a man called Gocher publicly defied the law against bathing clothed in daylight hours. Curiously, there were many prosecutions in the late nineteenth century against people who swam naked in daylight: this is by no means the new phenomenon that some people think it to be.

Once daylight bathing (clothed variety) was legal, Manly beach and Bondi Beach became popular holiday places, the scenes of continual battles between wowserdom ("cover it up") and good sense. These days, though, the fear of sun-caused skin cancers seems to have halted the tendency to ever-skimpier costumes. It seems that fear was ever the friend of the wowsers!

But if you think you have seen everything, take a good look from the rear at a surfboat crew as they prepare to take their boat out to sea. Rest assured, they are not strange: there is a good reason for doing as they do. Anybody who has ever rowed in a wet boat knows that! As to what it is, find out for yourself.

Bondi

Getting there

While you can drive to Bondi Beach, parking is rather difficult unless you get there fairly early. The fastest method is a train on the Eastern Suburbs line to Bondi Junction, followed by a 380 bus to the beach.

What to do there

For no particular reason, Bondi seems to be Sydney's most famous beach. It must be the white sand, or the fact that you could ride a tram there in the old days, or something. I must admit that I used to go there from Manly to swim, in my younger days, but only because my friends went there.

Swim, get sunburnt, wander down to the southern end, where the up-market types go, eat at the take-away food places behind the beach.

What to watch out for

Kiwis. Lots of kiwis. New Zealanders are the main inhabitants of Bondi, but nobody seems to know why. Check out the Bondi Pavilion: there is normally a performance on there worth seeing.

In winter, watch out for the "Bondi Icebergs", who are in the winter water in the rock pool at the south end of the beach.

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of one end of the
Bondi to Coogee Walk, or if you walk up onto the golf course at the northern end (go up Campbell Parade which becomes Military Road), you can see where and old volcanic neck once was. This produced enough heat to melt the sandstone, which formed columns of quartzite as it cooled.

The Bondi to Coogee Walk

The walk goes from the southern end of Bondi, and is impossible to miss. You can walk part-way, or all the way to Coogee. Fuller details will appear on the
walks page.

Coogee

You are at one end of the
Bondi to Coogee Walk, with a nice beach, or you can get the 374 bus or 373 from Circular Quay or the 372 bus from Central Railway. I suggest a triangular trip involving both Bondi and Coogee, a meal somewhere, maybe a swim, and a couple of buses.

What else is around

There is a nice pub.

Maroubra

Catch
the 396 bus from Circular Quay, or the 395 bus from Central Railway.

Maroubra Beach, looking south. Maroubra Beach, looking north. An electric barbecue on the grass behind Maroubra Beach.
Pictures above, from left to right:

Cronulla

Getting there

Like "Manly Beach", Cronulla is actually a whole series of beaches, stretching along for some kilometres. The bay on which the beach lies, Bate Bay, curves gently round so that you can choose anything from an east-facing to a south-facing beach.

If you are driving, pick up the Southern Cross Drive (route 64), General Holmes Drive past the airport to Botany Bay, the Grand Parade, then onto Rocky Point Road along Sanndringham Street, over Taren Point bridge, drive down Taren Point Road, and follow the signs to Cronulla.

By public transport, catch a train to Cronulla Station via Sutherland: Cronulla is right at the end of the line. From the station, cross the street and head generally east to the beach.

What to do there

Cronulla is a surfing and sunning beach, but the extensions, up past the swimming baths to North Cronulla, Wanda and beyond, stretch all the way to Kurnell, about 10 km away. So if wandering along beaches sounds attractive, this is a good place for it.

The ferry to Bundeena, on the edge of the Royal National Park runs from Cronulla. The wharf is in Gunnamatta Bay, on the other side of the station from the way to Cronulla Beach. On weekends, this is a popular boating and sailing area.

Kurnell is just up the road a bit, and this is well worth the visit if you have a car. You can get there by bus from Cronulla.

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of the Royal National Park, either by car, or by ferry to Bundeena.

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Rock pools

Rock pools are a Sydney specialty, I think. You will often find, tucked away at one or both ends of a surf beach, a pool, surrounded by rock and/or cement, and offering smoothish water to swim in. Most of them have waves coming in at high tide or in rough weather. Get a street directory, and look at the ends of the beaches near you. Note that a rock pool is a construction, set into the rocks, flushed and filled at high tide. When the waves are big, it can be risky!

Harbour pools

Balmoral | Clontarf | Fairlight | Forty Baskets | Manly Harbour Pool | Parsley Bay | Nielsen Park

If you are on the Spit-Manly Walk, you will pass meshed pools at Clontarf and Forty Baskets, and a rock pool at Fairlight, before you reach the meshed pool near Manly. You will also pass Castle Rock, where sharks may be found, even in shallow water, so stay out!

Parsley Bay, Redleaf Pool at Double Bay, Nielsen Park (in summer only) and the baths at Watsons Bay all offer safe swimming in the Eastern Suburbs.

Balmoral

Balmoral Beach and Middle Head, seen from the Manly ferry.Caption: Balmoral Beach and Middle Head, seen from the Manly ferry.

One of the lesser known pools is at Balmoral, on Middle Harbour. To get there, take a ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo and catch the 238 bus to Balmoral, or catch a ferry to the Musgrave Street wharf, and take the 233 bus to Balmoral. You will find pleasant eateries, a bottle shop, take-away foods, meshed pools (no sharks on the inside, not many on the outside), grass and sand, and a reasonable amount of parking if you come by car during the week. There is also a 257 bus running from Balmoral to Chatswood station and back, about every half hour - from other parts of Sydney, join this bus at Spit Junction.

Once upon a time, when "topless" was daring, Balmoral Beach used to be known as the place to go and stare. Unfortunately for most of the starers, that information only applied mid-week: on weekends, when most of them came to drool and dribble, the place was just another family beach. Still, that is just so much water over the sand, these days. Balmoral is still a popular place to go and get sunburned, and a place where you can see half a dozen different classes of yacht racing, all at once. And half a dozen different classes of Sydneysider, all mixing together.

The local council (Mosman) runs a parking area at the southern end of the beach, where locals get in free and outsiders are stung for large amounts of money. The collectors operate at the weekends, starting early in the morning, but there is usually parking to be had outside the "pay" area until about 9.30 or 10 am. After that, you have to pay or park up on one of the surrounding hills, and get hot and sweaty walking back to the car.

Clontarf

You will pass this on the Spit to Manly or Manly to Spit walk, or you can drive there through a maze known only to locals. There is no public transport, and it gets parked-out at weekends (and you have to pay). So go mid-week, and if possible, walk in.

Clontarf has one small historical claim to fame: it is the place where the then Duke of Edinburgh, "Royal Prince Alfred", was shot in the back by a mad Fenian. The bullet was stopped by a double layer of India rubber in the braces the Duke used to keep his trousers up (Americans call these things suspenders). The two straps crossed at the impact point, and stopped the Duke being badly injured. This royal nonentitiy lives on in the RPA Hospital, erected with the subscriptions of his mother's loyal subjects, and also in a yacht club.

Nice place to swim, bad place for an assassination. Oh, they hanged the Fenian, by the way. Mad or not, he got the high jump.

Manly Harbour Pool

Manly Pool, a safe place to swim in the harbour. Manly Pool, a safe place to swim in the harbour. Caption: Manly Pool, a safe place to swim in the harbour.

To the west of Manly Wharf, this is a stillwater beach with a shark-proof net, offering plenty of room to swimn and relax. At the far end, you can see Oceanworld, a large aquarium display which was good, last time I saw it, about eight years ago. I think it is still considered good value.

Fairlight

This is about 15 - 20 minutes from Manly Wharf. It is a family sort of place, mostly visited by locals. It is totally exposed to the southerly winds that sometimes chill us (then you walk on round the bay to Forty Baskets, next entry), but there is reasonable diving nearby, so you will often see SCUBA people and snorkellers out in the bay. To get there, see the Spit - Manly walk details. There are toilets, a dressing room, drinking water, no other facilities, and the locals like it that way, so come with food and drink -- and sun cream.

Fairlight also has a nice wading pool for small people. There are penguins about, but you probably won't see them unless you are diving.

Forty Baskets

Kayaks in the harbour, close to Manly, Forty Baskets in the background.

Caption: Kayaks in the harbour, close to Manly, Forty Baskets in the background, largely hidden.

There are folk etymologies for this beach, mainly involving large catches of fish, taken by hauling the seine, just off the beach. It is a beach you can walk to, it is on the Spit-Manly or Manly-Spit walk, there is a safe pool to swim in, but it is a bit disappointing at low tide. There is grass and shade to picnic on. I have seen one penguin there, sadly it was dead, but clearly the do visit at times. Cormorants are more common.

This is a pleasant place when there is a southerly wind blowing. It is also pleasant at dusk on a hot day, as it gets shaded during the afternoon. There are toilets nearby, there is fresh water, and there are a few barbecues: this is probably not the place to come if you plan to cook, because you may have to wait.

Nielsen Park

Nielsen Park.

Caption: Nielsen Park.
To get there, take the
324 bus and ask the driver to set you down at the stop closest to the park. There is an excellent walk heading south, back to Rose Bay, called the Hermitage Foreshore Walk. You can catch a Watsons Bay ferry from Rose Bay, if you wish.

Parsley Bay

Parsley Bay. Parsley Bay.Caption: Parsley Bay.

There is an entry on Parsley Bay on the parks page.

Swimming in Fresh Water

There are three main traps in freshwater swimming: currents, cold patches, and snags. Rivers and streams can travel at quite different speeds in places quite near each other, so the current on the outside of a bend can be much faster. When the fresh water is still, there can often be colder water under the surface. If you swim into a patch of cold water, this can cause cramps which can sometimes lead to drowning. Once again, the main thing is not to panic.

Snags are usually pieces of water-logged wood that have been washed down into otherwise safe areas. Diving into water, even when you know it well, is not such a good idea at any time, but especially so if there is enough water flow to wash snags along. Although you may hear jokes from time to time, crocodiles do not live around Sydney. There are some poisonous fish in our rivers, called scorpion fish, but these only hurt if you tread on them. In general, fresh water is fairly safe if you are sensible. Still, if all this worries you, stay with the swimming pools.

By the way, if you are in the tropics, it would be wrong to assume that "salties", the saltwater crocodiles, are only found in salt water. They are more correctly called estuarine crocodiles, and they travel as far up the river as they can.

My advice: leave the rivers alone, and go for salt water, or go to one of the many Olympic pools!

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Olympic pools

Cook and Phillip Park
North Sydney
Prince Alfred Park
Domain (Andrew Charlton)
Warringah Aquatic Centre, Frenchs Forest (external link)
Victoria Park

As an alternative to the beaches, a number of Sydney pools are now heated in winter, including North Sydney pool, just below the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Milsons Point, the Manly Pool (alias the Manly Andrew 'Boy' Charlton Swim Centre), Ryde, Lane Cove, Canterbury, Roselands and Sutherland pools. For more information, addresses and phone numbers, look in the Yellow Pages under "Swimming Pools". These are mostly enclosed for winter, which can make them rather noisy, especially when water polo is on and the "Aquarobics" classes are running.

Victoria Park

The pool at Victoria Park. The pool at Victoria Park. Pictures show the pool at Victoria Park. The parked cars seem to belong to pool staff.

How to get there

You can get to Victoria Park by catching just about any bus that goes west from
Central Railway. Some buses divert up City Road on the south-eastern side of the park, some go along Parramatta Road, and some divert right into Glebe. Any bus that is going past the University of Sydney will do you, and you can catch such buses at Circular Quay or along george Street as well.

The park is the first bit of real greenery that you see after dipping down into a dismal gully and back up the other side, and when all the young people get off, you are at the University, just past where you want to be.

What to do there

Swim laps, cross over the road to poke around the shops, walk up to see the gothic sandstone on the older buildings of the University of Sydney, look at the ducks in the pond, go somewhere else.

North Sydney

This is close to Luna Park, at the northern foot of the bridge on the western side. It tends to have lots of water polo training, aquarobics, lap swimming and other frightfully serious activity. Get the train to Milson's Point and walk from there. The views of the harbour make it worthwhile, anyhow.

Prince Alfred Park

To come when I have time, so use
this link.

Cook and Phillip Park

This pool is across College Street from
Hyde Park, just north of the Australian Museum. Use this link.

Domain (Andrew Charlton)

To come when I have time, so use
this link.

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Unclad beaches

Obelisk Beach.Picture: Obelisk Beach.

Strictly speaking, beaches aren't nude, in any sense of the term. The places where you can legally get your gear off are called "unclad beaches" or "clothing optional beaches". There are three such beaches near Sydney, although a number of other beaches seem to have naked bodies on them from time to time.

A word of warning: common practice and legality are not at all the same thing, and if you mistake Camp Cove for Lady Bay, or place your naughty bits on show at an unscheduled beach, you run the risk of being run-in by the forces of law and order, and fined. We have never had the experience (because we don't do it, being a bit on the elderly side), but going on newspaper reports, the magistrates don't listen to pleas that there were others equally naked on the same beach, nor do they accept ignorance as an excuse. So if you hear of other beaches as being commonly used in that way, the responsibility for coughing up $100 or so (if you are caught) is yours, and keep in mind that the unclad status can be withdrawn.

Lady Bay (Gregory's ref. 76, A13) is approachable from Camp Cove and Watsons Bay. The track is the one you use to get to Hornby Light, and the track is described there. To get to Hornby Light, you need to go past Lady Bay.

Obelisk Beach and Cobbler's Beach, both at the end of Middle Head are listed as legal "nude beaches".

Werrong Beach in the Royal National Park is a legal possibility, although changes are contemplated for that beach as well. Drive to the very southern end of the park, along Lady Wakehurst Drive (not to be confused with the Wakehurst Parkway, north of the harbour). Just before Otford, you will come to the Otford Lookout, with views all the way from Wollongong to the northern end of the park. Look for the Cliff Track, heading north from the Lookout, and take the lower fork where the track branches. The track is extremely steep.

As mentioned, there are other beaches commonly used (without official approval) as nude beaches, but to avoid problems, I have elected not to list them, in the interests of clad users. Please keep in mind that nakedness is offensive to a significant part of the population, and what is freedom to you may be oppressive to others. The ends of certain surf beaches are used from time to time, but as indicated before, some users and most officials won't be happy, so you run a distinct risk of prosecution - not to mention a greater chance of skin cancers!

Before you go, check the relevant legislation! At the time of writing, this listed Lady Bay (Lady Jane) Beach, Cobblers Beach, Obelisk Beach, Werrong Beach and Samurai Beach.


Back to the top This file is http://members.ozemail.com.au/~macinnis/syd/beaches.htm, first created on March 16, 2006. Last recorded revision (well I get lazy and forget sometimes!) was on June 10, 2008.


© The author of this work is Peter Macinnis. You are free to point at this page. Copies of this page or set of pages may be stored on PDAs or printed for personal use. You can't contact me at macinnis@ozemail.com.au, but if you add my first name to the front of that email address, you can -- this is a low-tech way of making it harder to harvest the e-mail address I actually read.
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