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Wylie’s Baths Aims For A Better Bathing Experience

By Sarah Healey on March 6, 2015 in News

Photo: James Andrews

Photo: James Andrews

The future of Coogee’s Wylie’s Baths is in safe hands, according to a recent survey conducted by the Wylie’s Baths Trust back in spring 2014. Over 100 regular users of the Baths responded to the survey, with the majority of respondents wanting to preserve the character and heritage values of the Baths as it stands now, without over-commercialisation.

Established in 1907 and listed on the National Heritage Trust of NSW, the Baths encapsulates an old-world charm that’s rare to find in the Eastern Suburbs these days. It is one of the oldest public recreation facilities in the Coogee area, and one of the first mixed gender bathing pools in Australia.

Founder Henry Alexander Wylie’s daughter Wilhelmina, along with Fanny Durack, were Australia’s first two female Olympic swimming representatives, winning the first gold and silver swimming medals for a women’s event in the history of the Olympics.
Randwick Council has resolved to work with the Wylie’s Baths Trust towards a management model that benefits the Baths’ users.

“Wylie’s Baths Trust has a lease agreement in place with Council until 2017,” a Council spokesperson said. “In general terms it is considered good practice to conduct surveys such as this one to gauge community satisfaction with a service.”

Of those surveyed, 80 to 90 percent agreed that Wylie’s is generally well maintained, and 84% ‘strongly agreed’ that they swim at Wylie’s because they ‘think it is a special place’. Many prefered it to chlorine pools, and most were satisfied with the amenities on offer. Over 90% believed the kiosk is well priced, and the majority agreed that the admission fees and season passes were reasonably priced also.

Interestingly, 82% of respondents identified Council support and Government grants as their preferred form of future funding. Disabled access was another future consideration, which is a challenge the Trust is reviewing, but there is no immediate solution at this stage.
Local resident and Ocean’s Dining chef Amy Heatrick regularly swims at Wylie’s Baths to escape the “hustle and bustle” of Coogee Beach.

“You really feel like you’ve stepped back in time; it’s a little slice of paradise away from the traffic of downtown Coogee,” she said. “I love the abundance of marine life when I swim, and it always changes. There’s never a day I go to Wylie’s where it’s the same.”

Since the survey was conducted, the Trust has made a number of improvements, including upgrading the ladies’ change rooms and taking more care in their recruitment process in order to ensure lifeguards are always on hand to monitor the Baths and that people with hospitality experience are running the kiosk.

“We are aware of all the issues and are keeping on top of them,” Trust Community Representative Tony Cousins said.

“We know we can’t keep everyone happy and there’ll always be detractors, but the people who run Wylie’s put a lot of time and effort in because they absolutely love the place.”

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