Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre turns 50 years.

Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre’s 50th Anniversary from Localnotes on Vimeo.

Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre turns 50 this November.


Public pool swimming at this site commenced around 1907 when it was a sea bath and in 1960 the current pool was established.

Do you have any stories, memoirs, photos, documents or memorabilia of Leichhardt  Park Aquatic Centre if you do please. email: localhistory@lmc.nsw.gov.au or Amie Zar on  ph: 9367 9335

LPAC diving boards 1960s

The Pool  By Julie Millard

I have spent many great hours at the Leichhardt Pool over the past 50 years. When I was just 4 years old my parents, my 3 year old sister Terry and I lived in the corner shop just down the hill from the pool. When the wind blew from the north we would sit in the small backyard, fence garnered with the choko vine and shed full of soft drink bottles, and enviously listen to the sounds of laughter and shrieks coming from the pool.

Life was too busy for leisurely hours swimming, until the day my Aunty Pam came to visit. Tall and worldly she seemed like a goddess to us. Our excited and at times sulky begging eventually wore down my parents. The instructions for good behaviour and sun hats having been dispensed we set off for an afternoon of pleasure.

And it was. Pools of blue water, with diving boards so high it hurt to crane your neck. We swam and splashed and laughed.

Nearing our time to leave my Aunty Pam told us two blond nymphs to sit on the side of the deep diving pool and wait while she did some diving and chatted with the boys.

Minutes passed and we became bored. So imagine my horror when my sister jumped in, to see how deep it was. Panic burst my chest as I watched her head just bobbing above the surface with no steps or ledge for her to stand on. I reached out my hand trying to grab her. Her frantic dog-paddling pushing her further away from me. I flattened myself on the pools edge and stretched so far out and grabbed her. She then pulled me into the pool.

How long we two young kids were frantically trying to get out of the pool I don’t know. But a male swimmer saw us struggling, initially thinking it was a mother and child.

Terry and I woke up in the First Aid room a little oblivious to all the fuss, with my Aunty berating us. Of course we then had to face our parents with Aunty Pam consumed with guilt – she was only 14.

http://swimmingpoolstories.blogspot.com.au/2011_09_01_archive.html

5 comments to Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre turns 50 years.

  • Kev Murphy

    In the 50s, I only remember the pool when it was open to the Harbour. I
    had just started work in the city in the Public Service so guess where I
    spent my mandatory mid-week sick days? Autumn and Spring were my
    favourite times at the pool, when it was always quiet. I didn’t visit
    in summer. Then, I trekked to Bondi for a surf. Mostly, I was alone
    at Leichhardt. Never any schoolies splashing about in those days.

    I lived in Booth St Balmain in those days. Come to think of it, we
    locals always referred to it as the “Balmain Baths”. That’s curious,
    that it has dropped out of use over the years.

    A little further on the subject … my Dad used to frequent the
    Riverview Hotel and got to know the Fraser family who lived opposite.
    He and I used to go every Saturday night to play poker with them and
    other pub drinkers. In those years Dawn was mostly training in Adelaide
    and I didn’t have much to do with her. We were just nodding
    acquaintances and that is how it has remained to this day.

    That was not so with her brother, Chook. He worked the crane at the
    timber yard overlooking Leichhardt Pool and when he spotted me there he
    would stand on the hook and get his mate to dangle him over the pool.
    Then he’d jump for it, up to sixty or seventy feet I’d guess. OH & S
    would stop that practice these days, but for us, it was fun and a highly
    practicable way to gain admission, not that the pool manager would have
    expected Chook to pay his way in. He was a very popular young sportsman
    in those days, in a very sporty family.

    Secluded, right down on the water with the headland protection against
    errant winds, it was cosy in the sun and a great pleasure to dive in and
    cool off. I never did laps. Mostly I sun-baked. Strangely, I don’t
    regret failing to use the ‘new’ (1960 version) pool because I have happy
    memories of the old see-through wooden structure with bouncy flooring
    and the lovely smell of sea salt lingers with me now. I never did get
    to use the chlorine-type pools that some poor swimmers have to frequent,
    well away from the sea shores. My favourites were the two pools between
    the Cronullas, Redleaf, Shelley Beach and Gunnamatta, but Balmain was
    best of all.

  • Ellen Williams

    ELLEN WILLIAMS

    Remembers time spent as a teenager at Leichhardt Baths, on the site of today’s Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre

    “They were wooden tidal baths. They were very nice at high tide but they were a little bit on the nose when it was low tide. … We used to have our races every Sunday morning, and when we had the carnivals … it used to get packed with people coming down to see us.”

  • Julie Millard

    Gone swimming

    By Julie Millard

    I have spent many great hours at the Leichhardt Pool over the past 50 years. When I was just 4 years old my parents, my 3 year old sister Terry and I lived in the corner shop just down the hill from the pool. When the wind blew from the north we would sit in the small backyard, fence garnered with the choko vine and shed full of soft drink bottles, and enviously listen to the sounds of laughter and shrieks coming from the pool.

    Life was too busy for leisurely hours swimming, until the day my Aunty Pam came to visit. Tall and worldly she seemed like a goddess to us. Our excited and at times sulky begging eventually wore down my parents. The instructions for good behaviour and sun hats having been dispensed we set off for an afternoon of pleasure.

    And it was. Pools of blue water, with diving boards so high it hurt to crane your neck. We swam and splashed and laughed.

    Nearing our time to leave my Aunty Pam told us two blond nymphs to sit on the side of the deep diving pool and wait while she did some diving and chatted with the boys.

    Minutes passed and we became bored. So imagine my horror when my sister jumped in, to see how deep it was. Panic burst my chest as I watched her head just bobbing above the surface with no steps or ledge for her to stand on. I reached out my hand trying to grab her. Her frantic dog-paddling pushing her further away from me. I flattened myself on the pools edge and stretched so far out and grabbed her. She then pulled me into the pool.

    How long we two young kids were frantically trying to get out of the pool I don’t know. But a male swimmer saw us struggling, initially thinking it was a mother and child.

    Terry and I woke up in the First Aid room a little oblivious to all the fuss, with my Aunty berating us. Of course we then had to face our parents with Aunty Pam consumed with guilt – she was only 14.

  • Localnotes

    Some of my memories are:

    Loving the diving towers!!!! …of which I mastered doing a one and a half summersault from each except the 10 meter tower.
    I eventually dived off that one but no summersaults!!!
    The races in the Olympic pool when I broke a record in the first 50?55? mtrs and then slowed right down on the return lap.
    (So embarrassing)

    The shop (canteen) down the back of the pool on the grass area…where we could buy a choo choo bar!!!
    The day my dog (alsatian) followed us down to the pool and over the loudspeaker came the instruction that
    whoever owned the dog to come and get it!!………Yes…. had to walk it home.
    Loved my time at the pool with my friends.
    They hold very special memories!
    Now… I’m in my 60’s and I’m a Baptist Minister in the Sutherland shire.

    I have taken (and still do) my wife back to Leichhardt and Balmain and Haberfield…
    where we enjoy lunch and sometimes a movie in Norton St theatre.

    I remember walking the w h o l e length of Norton St as a kid to get home as busses were far and few in between.

    I also attended Ibrox Park school for some months before leaving to get a job.
    Oh yes….I also remember my dad catching the… ..get this… “tram”… when we first moved to Leichhardt before buses were introduced.
    AND…. The Callan Park wall was 6 or 7 feet high in those days.
    Angelo Giovas

  • Daniel Lewis

    I use to swim at leichhardt pools back in the early 90s. The towers were the big drawing card.
    No can’t do this bullshit back then..
    You use to be able to get a run up from the back of the tower and then run as fast as you can and dive off. You could do this two out with your friend if you liked.
    I remember a dive called the “peanut roll.” You would sit with your buddy on the edge of the tower, with your legs hanging over the edge, then roll foward and dive off.
    The canteen was down the back stairs next to the grass area. It was full of arcade machines..
    There was a small pool with an observation window. You would walk down a few stairs and could watch your friend be a goose!!
    I really miss the good old days..

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