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Merewether Ocean Baths
Newcastle, New South Wales

At 100 metres wide, this huge ocean pool on a rock shelf south of Newcastle is around six times bigger than your standard Olympic pool. Not only is it big, but the superb views of the ocean and the headland are expansive, making it seem even bigger. In fact, it is so big, that I had to think for a long time to even decide where to start swimming. Swimming at Merewether Ocean Baths Above: The ten lanes for competitions at the far southern end of the pool (Order this image)

Being filled from the ocean, the water can be on the chilly side at times, so the wide entry ramp at the northern end allows swimmers to wade in gently. As with all things at Merewether Ocean Pool, the ramp is not small. In fact, it is so big that you could drive a truck down it.
For the record, people swim 50 metre laps from west to east (i.e. towards the ocean), not 100 metre laps across the pool. For the cold water devotees, the Merewether Mackerels swimming club train here every Sunday at 8.30 am from May to September. Swimming at Merewether Ocean Baths Above: Merewether Ocean Baths shallow beach pool and pavillion (Order this image)

The ten lanes with starting blocks at the far southern end of the pool are strictly for lap swimming. Elsewhere you can do whatever you like, with a lot of people walking laps rather than swimming them, and one woman doing handstands in the middle of the pool.
There is also a shallower beach pool in front of the main pool, which is suitable for kids wanting to have a splash around. Swimming at Merewether Ocean Baths Above: The truck-width ramp leading into Merewether Ocean Baths (Order this image)

There are plenty of car spaces at the baths, but there are also lots of cars, so finding a car park can require a bit of patience at busier times.

Here is a video of swimming at Merewether Ocean Baths on a glorious spring morning when there were plenty of happy people chatting and swimming in the water.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Henderson Parade, Merewether, 4 km south of Newcastle and 170 km (approx. 2.5 hour drive) north of Sydney
Latitude:-32.951800 Longitude:151.755571
Getting there: From the Pacific Hwy (A1) at Merewether Heights, take Scenic Drive and Frederick Street to Merewether Beach, then turn down John Parade and then straight into Henderson Parade to head towards the baths. Parking is available on three levels along Henderson Parade near the baths.

Facilities: Public toilets, change rooms, car park, outdoor shower, sheltered and unsheltered picnic tables, park benches, rubbish bins
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Cool to Mild
Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Concrete, sand
Maximum water depth: 1-2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Inexperienced swimmers (under supervision) can swim in the shallower beach pool
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No running, no bombing, no fibreglass boards, no littering, no alcohol, no glass, no fires, no skateboarding, no smoking, no dogs, no motor vehicles.
Sun shade: No shade in the water. Very limited shade out of the water under sheltered picnic tables.
Opening times: Always open except on scheduled cleaning days, which generally occur every Thursday, but the days can switch in some weeks due to public holidays or more frequent cleaning. The change rooms close at 7 pm.
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible paths including a ramp into the water. Water access wheelchairs are available by visiting the lifeguards on duty. Priority parking space for the disabled and wheelchair accessible toilets and change rooms.
Accommodation Options: See my accommodation suggestions close to Merewether Ocean Baths, including some properties on the hill behind the baths.
Managing authority: City of Newcastle
Nearby attractions: The Bogey Hole and Canoe Pool in Newcastle, 4km to the north.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information. Specific to this site, the managing authority advises that there is shallow water, submerged rocks, slippery surface, edges, and high surf. There is a lifeguard on duty from 9 am to 5.30 pm in the warmer months, and from 8 am to 4.30 pm in the cooler months.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the baths. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can sometimes occur when loading, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
View Larger Map
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