For More Than a Century, Wylie’s Baths Remains Significant to Coogee and Sydney Locals

A few metres down Coogee Beach lies the famous Wylie’s Bath. Nestled on the cliff’s rocky terrain, this community pool is one of the most recognizable, significant, and historical ocean swimming baths in Sydney. It’s no wonder it has been listed as a heritage site.

Visitors to Wylie Baths come for a relaxing swim at the 50-metre pool or for a chat with other guests at the kiosks as they enjoy their coffee and snacks. Some go to Wylie Baths to join the regular swimming lessons and fitness or wellness classes organized by different groups every week.

Qualified and trained masseuse are also on site to indulge the visitors with soothing massages. If the guests don’t want to swim, however, they may look around at the nearby shops for some merchandise and other products.

People do all of these relaxing activities at the Wylie Baths, while experiencing the very best view of the Pacific Ocean from the coastline.

Who Owns Wylie Baths?

In 1907, champion underwater swimmer Henry Alexander Wylie built the baths where his daughter, Wilhelmina “Mina” Wylie, trained with Fanny Durack as Australia’s Olympic representatives. They were the first women n the history of the sports competition to win gold and silver for swimming.

Mina Wylie is the first woman to win a silver medal in swimming at the Olympics.
Photo Credit:
State Library NSW

Wylie was able to secure a special lease for the baths and added change rooms and a timber boardwalk by the cliff a few years later. In 1959, Desmond Selby took over the lease at a time when Wylie’s Bath showed signs of dilapidation. Mr Selby renamed the facility as Sunstrip Pool, extended the boardwalk, and built kiosks around the site.

The Wylie’s Bath in the 1950s
Photo Credit:
State Library NSW

Frequent storms in the ’70s caused severe damage to the baths, prompting Mr Selby to close the facilities. By 1978, the Randwick Council took ownership and reinstated the site to its original name.

With the help of architects Keith Cottier and Allen Jack, Wylie’s Bath underwent a major renovation in the early ’90s under the Council’s management. Today, it is managed by the Wylie’s Baths Trust.

Why is Wylie’s Baths Significant?

Aside from its close association to the women Olympic swimmers, Wylie’s Bath is important to Coogee and Sydney’s history because it is:

  • the first mixed-gender bath pool in Australia
  • the first recreation facility for the public in Coogee
  • the site of the first Australian Swimming Championships

Today, various swim clubs from Coogee, Marouba and Randwick use Wylie’s Baths.  

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons