The Pool Blog

Daily Dip Updates

Bilgola Beach Pool and trying to hold up the earth

by Jan 11, 2022

Today we visit three pools on the Northern Beaches – Avalon Pool, Bilgola Pool and Newport Pool. They are all concrete pools, and each has its own charm. However, if I had to recommend one it would be Bilgola Beach Pool for its ease of access – of which more later – and how hard it works to hold up the earth around it.

Bilgola works to hold up the cliffs behind it because the shale is so soft that it is in danger of sliding off. The cliffs have been netted and lovely masonry work has been done to bolster it, but I can’t help but wonder for how long these repairs will last. At Newport the cliff is further away from the pool and has enough vegetation to tether it. The cliff at Bilgola is disturbingly bare. A set of pillars have been built as you walk to the pool and once you start looking you can see that large swathes of the cliff have been supported. It feels like an attempt to turn the tide itself.

Bilgola is a large 50m pool with 8 lanes and I am able to knock out a kilometre. I take pole position in lane 1 and the man in lane 2 comments that he will try not to crowd me. As soon as I leave, he moves into lane 1 and I suspect that without knowing it, I was in his lane! Locals can be very protective of their pools and their place in them.

One thing I do get worked up about with ocean pools is the level of access. We might think that the pools are the playground of the tanned, fit and well, but often it’s a therapy space for people recovering from operations, illness and falls. It’s also a free playground for mothers with young children. We meet a woman today at Newport Pool who typifies this, she’s recovering from her cancer treatment and it’s the regular dip which has brought her mobility back. This is why when I see poor access it makes me crabby. The closest access point to Newport is not signposted and only locals would know where it was. The access we use is far from the pool and we have to walk across the sand.

If you have mobility issues and want some water therapy, Newport Pool would not be your best option. The best access is at Bilgola where you can drive to the beachfront, park and walk on a flat surface all the way to the pool. Sure enough, while we are there a man on crutches limps over the water and slides in for some relief. Dear Bilgola, I do hope you can continue to hold up the earth.