The opening of a new ‘beach’ in Sydney Harbour, just minutes from the city’s sprawling CBD offices, was met with excitement by tacky workers sweating in the summer humidity – and I was no exception.
The ocean pool opened to the public for the first time this week at Marrinawi Cove, on the north side of the Barangaroo Reserve.
I rushed to try the new out-of-the-way spot—conveniently located just a 12-minute walk from my own office—and soon realized I wasn’t alone.
When I arrived at the bay at 11:30am on Tuesday, the area was already buzzing with locals eager to take a dip while enjoying panoramic views of the Harbor Bridge.
But while the new spot offers incredible views, there are a few aspects of the city’s newest “beach” that could use some refinement.
Daily Mail Australia reporter Olivia Day (pictured) took a dip in Sydney’s newest saltwater swimming spot, just minutes from the CBD
The enclosed ocean pool (pictured) opened to the public for the first time this week at Marrinawi Cove, on the north side of the Bangaroo Reserve
On Wednesday, children tested the new pool on boogie boards and inflatables
The first are the slippery rocks. While moss is to be expected at a saltwater pool, it can be slow to enter the water over the rocky waterfront, with no steps or handrails.
It’s also tricky to gauge the depth of the pool as the water is murky, and after paddling around the perimeter I found I couldn’t touch the bottom – not even in the shallows.
Although diving is prohibited due to shallow rocks, swimmers soon discovered that a high platform at the ‘deep end’ provided a great place to jump into the water.
One child on a boogie board was particularly thrilled when the fence suddenly became a wave pool as a boat passed by – others, however, were less than impressed when their gear was soaked with the wax.
Another drawback is the lack of sand – swimmers can perch on the large boulders around the perimeter of the water or snag a spot on a limited grassy area.
Cyclists and runners gratefully jumped at the chance to cool off in the salt water while others read, chatted and soaked up the city sun
A shower and bathrooms for men and women are located just meters from the swimming spot for office workers who are short on time
Swimmers should be careful when entering the water on slippery rocks such as these
PROS AND CONS OF SYDNEY’S NEWEST ‘BEACH’
Located in the CBD
Facilities such as toilets and showers
Cafes and nice walks nearby
Grass to lie on
View of the Harbor Bridge
Wave pool effect
Limited space to lie comfortably
No ladders to get into the water safely
However, I will not pass up the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing lunch dip in one of Australia’s most iconic waterways.
During my visit, of course, the space was divided into two camps – one side for families and the other for those looking for a quiet place to enjoy the view.
When I returned with a friend at 4pm, it seemed word had spread quickly about the trendy new swimming hole.
There were at least 30 people sitting along the water’s edge – however low tide meant the water level had dropped and more slippery rocks were exposed.
This made it even more difficult to enter the water, but this problem could easily be solved by adding a few metal ladders.
The NSW government has promised to enlarge the space with decking and ladders if the site proves popular.
For now, signage around the space warns visitors about the slippery surfaces.
Workers short on time or moms on the go will enjoy the fully equipped bathrooms just feet from the water’s edge, as well as an outdoor shower.
The swimming spot also benefits from being just minutes from town, with cafes, restaurants, pubs and public transport all nearby.
The area is the first swimming spot to be opened to the public west of the Harbor Bridge in 50 years and has so far been a hit with residents
A sign next to the water hole warns bathers about the slippery and uneven surface
During my visit, of course, the space was divided into two camps – one side for families (pictured) and the other for those looking for a quiet place to sit and read their books
Good news for those eager to have a splash: the NSW government hopes the popular watering hole will be the first of many new public bathing spots.
Infrastructure Minister Rob Stokes, who jumped into the harbor pool on Monday, said it was the first to be built in more than half a century.
“Our city stopped building ocean and harbor pools more than half a century ago — it’s high time we provided more great, safe public swimming spots,” he said.
“Swimming at Marranawi Cove is only possible because we’ve invested in clearing our harbor from industrial wastelands to water playgrounds.”
The new swimming experience has led to a divided community response.
On Wednesday, a swimmer floats in the bay, despite the gray sky above him
Although diving is prohibited due to shallow rocks, avid swimmers soon discovered that a high platform at the ‘deep end’ provided a great place to jump into the water (pictured)
Those with a spot on the grass stretched out in the sun while curious office workers, still in their work clothes, came to dip their toes in the water
‘How amazing. I would have loved to have a midday swim when I worked in the city,” commented one Sydneysider.
Another added: ‘It seems like an extra place to swim, which is great, as long as it has shark nets. I wouldn’t call it a beach though, because there’s no sand.’
The NSW Government will review patronage levels at the end of the summer.
The government also plans to explore more ways to increase public swimming spots in Barangaroo spots, Blackwattle Bay and Bays West.