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Your Guide to Illawarra Pools this Summer: New Rules & Where to Swim.

Somehow, in what has been both the longest and the shortest year of our lives, it is finally December, which means the harsh days of unrelenting Summer sunshine are upon us. You know, the ones where you have sweat inelegantly dripping down back, feeling more like an oversized marine mammal that has been squeezed into a bodysuit, complete with underwire? Perhaps that is why this marine mammal feels most at home, spending summer days in the water.

I love swimming for many reasons. One of which is that I can exercise without everything jiggling, partially concealed beneath the surface with just enough water disturbance to distract from the wobble in my thigh. Not to mention, my above-average sized chest floats buoyantly instead of its usual southward-salute to the ground.

Everything feels better in the water. Maybe it is my inner-child reaffirming that I can be a mermaid if I only start flapping my feet together like a tail, or it might just be that when it is hot as balls outside, I choose to let it all hang socially unacceptably out. Now, I could tell you this is part of some body-positive movement, but in truth, after 32 degrees, I just don’t care what this mess looks like, I’m going in.

In recent weeks, the mercury has been dangerously close to no-fucks-given territory, and as such, I found myself trotting off to my favourite local pool for a little frolic with the kids on more than one occasion. But what is one to do when you get to said pool only to find out they have reached their capacity limit? Have a tantrum, naturally, but then what?

Reached capacity? What is this? Isn’t it the Australian way to pack ourselves like sardines into any beach, pool, or puddle we can find until the water is the same temperature as our bodies and the crowd starts to dissipate? Well, it turns out that in a post-COVID world, our local pools are limited to a small number of people and once reached, are only able to let swimmers in as others leave. This combines my two most hated things, being hot and waiting in lines.

How is it that my sweet release from the grip of overheated, hormonal madness has now become a source of additional frustration? Straw, meet Camel; and my back was sweaty to start with, so good luck.

When reaching the front of the line, I was informed about the new booking system that our council has implemented so that you can reserve your swimming time in advance. At first, it sounded annoying. Who wants to book their swim and then show up at a specific time? Where is the joy and spontaneity in that? But, as anyone who has a few kids would know, getting them into cozzies, creaming them up with sunscreen, collecting their ten kilos of crap, and hauling arse down to the pool is a bastard of a job by itself, which makes booking much better than getting there and being disappointed.

Long story short, I gave it a whirl, and it was impressively straightforward. The Wollongong Council website has a whole section for our local pools with an easy to find booking button that will allow you to book a one-hour or two-hour block in specific timeslots. Payment is made on-site when you arrive, or for the free pools, you will be ticked off on arrival with no payment due.

We have a lot of options for pools in the Illawarra, allowing you to make your selection based on your area and preference for saltwater or chlorinated, along with both paid and free locations:

Beaton Park Heated Pool – Indoor Pool – Foleys Rd, Gwynneville
Opening hours: 5.45 am – 8.30 pm Monday to Thursday, 5.45 am – 6.30 pm Friday, 6.30 am – 5.30 pm weekends

Berkeley Pool – Winnima Way, Berkeley
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Corrimal Heated Pool – Fence-off area for Toddler Pool – Short St, Corrimal
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Dapto Heated Pool – Bangaroo Ave, Dapto
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Helensburgh Pool – Walker St, Helensburgh
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Western Suburbs Pool – Free Pool – Chapman St, Unanderra
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Continental Pool – Salt Water Pool – Cliff Rd, North Wollongong
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Port Kembla Pool – Free Salt Water Pool with gently-sloped kids area – Olympic Blvd, Port Kembla
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Thirroul Pool – Bath St, Thirroul
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily – Closed Christmas Day

Austinmer Rock Pool – Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Austinmer.

Bellambi Rock Pool – Morgan Pl, Bellambi.

Bulli Rock Pool – Farrell Rd, Bulli.

Coalcliff Rock Pool – Paterson Rd, Coalcliff.

Coledale Rock Pool – Northcote St, Coledale.

Gentlemen’s Pool – Cliff Rd, North Wollongong.

Towradgi Rock Pool – Towradgi Rd, Towradgi.

Wombarra Rock Pool – Reef Rd, Wombarra.

Woonona Rock Pool – Kurraba Rd, Woonona.

As the days get hotter and your tolerance for everything around you weakens, make sure to book pool visits in advance, remembering that you can always cancel them if unable to attend.

For more information about the process, visit:

For more FUN places to take the kids locally – click here!

For School Holiday Activities – click here 🙂

Happy Summer adventures 🙂

Feature Image: Photo by Carlos Felipe Vericat Sanz on Unsplash

Zoë Wood is an international travel writer from the local Illawarra area. Contact her here: Facebook – Instagram – Email

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