Wylies Baths, Sydney, Australia
Wylie’s baths described as one of Sydney’s most beautiful ocean tidal pools is located just a few hundred metres south of Coogee Beach, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The Baths has sweeping 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean and overlooks the famous Wedding Cake Island. Situated amongst an architecturally significant 1900s Federation style timber elevated boardwalk, it really is a perfect setting to enjoy Sydney’s fabulous coastline.
The Baths are open 365 days a year and they charge a small fee for entry. Massage, yoga, swimming classes, a gourmet cafe and kiosk are also available to make your trip to the Wylies a complete relaxation experience.
Henry Alexander Wylie, a champion long distance and underwater swimmer, established Wylies Baths in 1907. Wylie’s daughter Wilhelmina, along with Fanny Durack, were Australia’s first two female Olympic swimming representatives .The first gold and silver swimming medals for a women’s event in the history of the Olympics went to Durack and Wylie respectively.
To begin work on the Baths, Wylie obtained a special lease below the highwater mark. The construction of the Baths coincided with Sydney’s emerging interest in seaside pools at the turn of the century. The Baths were one of the first mixed gender bathing pools in Australia and one of the last surviving examples of a venue which was common throughout Sydney. In the mid seventies storms and high seas damaged the baths, resulting in their temporary closure. In 1978 they were reopened under the control of Randwick Council and renamed Wylies Baths.
In 1994, Randwick City Council, in response to public pressure, resolved to repair the baths. The successful tenderers were architects Allen, Jack & Cottier. The restoration cost approximately $750,000 and was completed early in 1995. The work included restoring the boardwalk and building new amenities blocks. During 2000, a small extension was made to the kiosk to house a caterer’s kitchen. In 2005 Allen, Jack & Cottier were awarded the Greenway Award for Conservation by the Australian Institute of Architects (formerly the Royal Australian Institute of Architects) for their efforts. The work was praised for its sensitivity in recovering the essence of the original baths. The architects refer to their “decision to retain the essence of the place without slavish attempts to preserve the original and early fabric” and how “ the perennial conservation arguments about ‘fabric verses place’ informed the design approach which was to blur the boundaries between old and new.”
In 1996, Wylie’s Baths Trust was established to manage the baths. The Trust consists of representatives of the four local swimming clubs, three local residents and a representative of the Randwick City Council.
The baths are listed by the National Trust and were placed on the State Heritage Register in 2003.
For the full written and pictorial history of Wylies Baths, you can purchase “A Century of Wylies Baths Coogee” from the kiosk.
Click here to go through to the Wylies Baths website.