Splash into summer at reopened Newcastle Ocean Baths

21 Dec 2023

Santa wasn’t the only one ticking items off Novocastrians’ wish lists today as City of Newcastle (CN) welcomed swimmers back into the water at the Newcastle Ocean Baths.

An early morning swim and selfies with Santa on the restored bleachers heralded a highly anticipated return to the much-loved facility, as the upgrade of the pool and promenade areas reaches its final stage.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was pleasing to see swimmers back in the water and enjoying the significant improvements this project has delivered.

"Reopening the Baths for swimming ahead of Christmas and the summer holidays is a really pleasing outcome, enabling locals and visitors to the city to enjoy this beautiful location and the benefits of a once-in-a-generation upgrade," Cr Nelmes said.

"The Baths are over a century old, and the upgrade will enable future generations to continue to enjoy the facility.”

CN Executive Manager Project Management Office, Robert Dudgeon said today’s community event was a wonderful opportunity to welcome people back to the Baths.

"Significant work has been undertaken to deliver this long-awaited upgrade of the pool and promenade areas," Mr Dudgeon said.

"In addition to raising the pool deck to better withstand future predicted sea-level rise, a significant outcome of the upgrade is the improvements to accessibility.

"It's not just about handrails and ramps - the improvements consider how users of all abilities can enjoy the site, including via the newly replaced timber boardwalk, which was off limits for many users previously."

While the pool has been reopened, construction will continue at the southern end of the site with minor works near the Canoe Pool to be complete in early 2024.

The site's existing amenities and change facilities will be open for use in line with the return to swimming, with Principal Design Consultant Tonkin Zulaikha Greer working to prepare concepts for the future upgrade of the pavilion buildings, including the heritage façade.

A coffee cart will be operating on the site from today as an interim measure during design and planning for stage two of the upgrade, which will include kiosk facilities.

“We will continue to engage with the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group and the wider community throughout this process, as the designs are developed," Mr Dudgeon said.

The $9.5 million recovered from the sale of City of Newcastle's Fred Ash building is helping fund the Newcastle Ocean Baths stage one upgrade along with $3 million in funding from the NSW Government’s Public Spaces Legacy Program.

Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said City of Newcastle and everyone who cares about the baths deserves our congratulations.

“For locals in Newcastle and across the Hunter, there isn’t a more important place than the Newcastle Ocean Baths. They’re sacred," Minister Catley said.

"The Minns Labor Government is proud to help restore them, with $3 million in funding from the NSW Government.

"They’ve been restored perfectly, keeping everything that makes them special, for everyone to enjoy.

Summer in the Hunter is a swim at the baths, and they’ve never looked better.”

The NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program is an investment in high quality public open space and delivers vital infrastructure for communities to love the place they live.