Friday, 25 December 2009

Ring of rocks pool

The "ring of rocks" pool at Little Bay was constructed as a place for nurses at the 'Coast Hospital' to bathe safely.

The information below is from the NSW Ocean Baths website.
In the next couple of days we'll have a poke around under the water in the pool.

Early 1900s
Onsite recreation was important for the hospital's nurses, as the nearest public transport was the steam tram to the suburb of Botany, four miles away. Nurses paddled, swam and sunbaked at the beach at Little Bay, where a bathing shed was erected. The hospital had around 65 nurses and a total staff of around 80.

As sharks had been seen in Little Bay, Matron Jean McMaster forbade the nurses to swim in the Bay. Even so, nurses continued to swim there and often swam at night. There were no shark fatalities.

Matron McMaster requested better facilities for the nurses including a nurses' home, a nurses' sitting room and even hot water for the nurses' bathroom, along with recreational facilities such as a fully equipped tennis court and a rock-enclosed pool in Little Bay. It was years before the rock pool was completed.

By the time Alice Watson became Matron at the Coast Hospital, the rock pool in Little Bay had been constructed as a 'safe' swimming pool for nurses.

Photos show nurses and convalescent patients in army uniforms on Little Bay Beach in front of the rock pool.

Photos show nurses on Little Bay Beach in swimming costumes and picnicking in front of the rock pool. Children played on the beach in the care of nurses.

Nurses at the hospital still paddled and swam at the Little Bay Beach and in the rock pool. Prospective nurses were advised of the swimming from the hospital beach and other onsite recreational amenities provided free to the nursing staff, including competition-standard tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, a library and film programs.

Effluent from the Malabar sewage outfall to the north made the Little Bay beach and rock pool too polluted for swimming. Prince Henry Hospital nurses held dances, raffles and barbecues to raise money for an off-beach swimming pool built at no cost to the Hospital.

Construction of a deep-ocean outfall at Malabar ended pollution of the Little Bay Beach and rock pool. Local residents could walk to the pool across the Coast Hospital's golf course.

With the new development in the area it is much more accessible, and Little Bay may no longer be Sydney's best kept secret!

Here it is at high tide:


  1. such a lovely holiday post. i was in Australia and new Zealand last year for Christmas and had such a wonderful time. Happy Holidays!

  2. My comment will be different than my wife's, Julie, above.

    Hmmmmm. A spot for nurses to go swimming at the beach at night. It is a good thing that this location was so far from public transportation and hard to get to from town, otherwise, it might have become quite popular.

    Your underwater photos yesterday are great. Congratulations.

  3. The colours are really outstanding. I agree with Dave above: am ready and waiting for more underwater shots.

    For mine, I am happy to live ABOVE the waterline!!

  4. Fascinating history and the beauty of the place is superb.
    I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas, Sally. (Love your new photo - such a happy & warm smile.