The Bogey Hole is a historical reminder of the excesses that come from having both too much power, a love of water, and too much idle time on your hands.
This little pool was cut from a coastal rock shelf in the early 19th century by convict labour for a local military commandant. It was not built for its strategic value in warfare,
but rather simply so that the local commandant could take a bath.
Above: The platform at the edge of the Bogey Hole in Newcastle
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According to a plaque on site, the Bogey Hole was originally known as the Commandant's Bath. Built between 1819 and 1822, it was transferred to the
public in 1863. This makes it one of Australia's oldest constructed public pools.
What is it like to swim in the Bogey Hole? It all depends on the swell. On my visit the surf was up and the Bogey Hole was being battered by waves that slammed into
the back wall, with water shooting up through the platform grate like a fountain.
Quite frankly it was a little bit scary, with very little visibility in the water due to the froth on the
surface and loose sand and seaweed being stirred up from the bottom. I managed a few brave, short dashes to various sides of the pool, in between the larger sets of waves.
Above: Waves approaching the Bogey Hole in Newcastle
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Little did I know that the waves would be the least of my problems. When I jumped onto the platform and scurried up the steps from my first dash across the water, I encountered a staff
member from Sea Shelter
, a local marine wildlife rescue organisation, coming down the steps. She casually mentioned that "We've had
reports on our social media pages of a shark being washed into the pool - did you happen to see it in the water?" Gulp. Did she just say shark?
"It might be injured so it would be great if
you could look around for it," she continued. It was only when she saw the shocked expression on my face that she clarified that it was a Port Jackson shark. Phew! For anyone who does not know,
Port Jackson sharks are toothless and are often used in the petting zoos in aquariums. My last encounter with a Port Jackson shark was actually at the Southland shopping centre, where they had
one in a tank that you could pat. Needless to say, after a few more dashes into the turbid water, I did not find any sharks and my potential career as a wildlife rescuer was cut short before
Above: The rocky headland at the Bogey Hole in Newcastle
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For the thrillseekers, apparently people cling to the chains when they know that waves are going to overtop the pool. On my visit that would have
meant being totally submerged for maybe 10-15 seconds at a time, which was too dangerous for my liking. Designed as a bath, the pool is relatively narrow and shallow
(I could stand up everywhere I needed to), so not well suited to lap swimming if others are in the water. I think it would be fun to explore with a snorkel when the seas are calm and
for hanging out with friends.
There are no facilities and no space at the water's edge of the Bogey Hole, with any picnics needing to happen back in King Edward Park.
Here is a video of swimming at the Bogey Hole in rough seas, including waves hitting the back wall of the pool with quite a force.
Other Information Before You Go:
Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle, 1 km south of the Newcastle city centre and 170 km (approx. 2.5 hour drive) north of Sydney
In Newcastle, head south to King Edward Park. When I visited, Shortland Esplanade was closed to vehicles, so head along York Drive and park anywhere between
the playground and the lookout. To reach the Bogey Hole you can walk across the park and then down Shortland Esplanade or walk down the paved path that runs down the hill from
the lookout. Wherever you park, it is about a 200 metre walk from your car to the pool.
None at the Bogey Hole. King Edward Park has a playground, picnic tables, and lawns, with a public toilet at the playground.
Cool to Mild
Clear, but can the water can get stirred up to reduce visibility when waves overtop the pool
Maximum water depth:
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Given the risk of incoming waves, experienced swimmers only
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
None stated on site that I could see
No shade in the water. Very limited shade out of the water under sheltered picnic tables.
None. There are stairs down to the Bogey Hole. There is a priority car space for the disabled at the lookout.
See my accommodation suggestions
close to the Bogey Hole, including some
properties on the hill surrounding King Edward Park.
City of Newcastle
Nearby attractions: Merewether Ocean Baths
, 4 km to the south and the Canoe Pool
1km 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
high surf, submerged rocks, falling rocks, shallow water, slippery surface, slippery stairs, dangerous tides, unstable cliff, and marine stingers.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the Bogey Hole. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can sometimes occur when loading, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
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